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Tallahassee Responds to ‘Dangerous by Design’

Shortly after the Dangerous by Design report came out, I filled out a letter at the Rails to Trails website to be sent to the Florida Legislature on the subject. I just got a form-letter reply from Speaker Larry Cretul that I’d like to share.

Thank you for your e-mail regarding the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists.  I welcome the opportunity to learn of your concerns and I appreciate your suggestions for improving transportation safety.

Please know the Florida Legislature is concerned about the number of pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and fatalities, and has worked to make our state safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.  State law requires walkers and riders to be fully considered in the development of transportation facilities.  In addition, the Legislature passed legislation in 2005 that requires motorists to completely stop for sight impaired pedestrians with a properly identified guide dog or service animal, and 2006 legislation requires motorists to allow three feet clearance when passing a bicyclist.  These efforts have resulted in increased pedestrian safety, as this past year saw pedestrian deaths decrease five percent over the previous year.

The Florida Department of Transportation’s Safety Office bicycle/pedestrian coordinator works with many offices within the department to provide input and suggestions throughout the various stages of planning and design.  This position also serves as a member of the Strategic Intermodal System technical advisory committee to ensure a focus on safety with alternate modes of transportation.   In addition, the Florida Department of Transportation has a bicycle and pedestrian interest group that meets regularly to discuss safety issues.

I would encourage you to work with your local government and metropolitan planning organization on pedestrian and bicyclist safety needs in your area.  State law requires the plans and programs for each metropolitan area provide for the development and integrated management and operation of transportation systems and facilities, including pedestrian walkways and bicycle transportation facilities that will function as an intermodal transportation system.  I assure you that I will keep your concerns and suggestions in mind throughout the legislative process

Thank you again for writing to me.  If I can be of assistance to you in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Larry Cretul
Speaker

It doesn’t say much that I didn’t expect; the Legislature pats itself on the back for the few advancements that have made and then it passes the ball to the local government and to us as citizens. The really bothersome part of that is, if I were to go ask people in the various micro-City Halls of Miami, they would all point me back to Tallahassee as the one I need to talk about improving the traffic situation unveiled by the Dangerous by Design report.

When your arguably four major cities are all listed as Russian roulettes for pedestrians and bicyclists (compounded by the hit-n-run epidemic), this isn’t a matter only for the local government, this is a state-government matter, and a very serious one. Take responsibility and take action.

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6 Comments

  1. Felipe Azenha says:

    This is a statewide problem, not a local issue. The problem begins with FDOT. This reponse is not satisfactory. It’s not gonna be easy to change an autocentric culture.

  2. Steven says:

    An even better solution to this is that instead of FDOT pointing the finger at the local municipalities (who are just as much to blame as the state is), then they should set a better example and create better rules and oversight to make the municipalities follow. If they are going to play the high ground in this, then we should make them play the high ground and push them to change the way that MPO’s are operating in regards to pedestrian and bicycle policies.

  3. I think that’s what bothered me the most, their “we did our part” attitude of the form letter. Wake up, FDOT! Wake up, Tallahassee! Own your screw up and work to fix it.

  4. Ellen says:

    The FDOT owns a lion’s share of the pedestrian/bicyclists ongoing death fiasco simply because 40% of the metroploitan areas named are in the state of Florida! FDOT continues to lag behind other states regarding bike/ped issues. What a pathetic response.

  5. Collin says:

    I hope this encourages some of you to show up at the next MPO Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee on Wednesday Dec. 16th at 5:30pm on the 18th Floor (room 18-3) of the Government Center to express your concerns.
    This is the first meeting since the Dangerous by Design report was posted.
    A representative from FDOT is there every month, and he will relay your concerns if you are there at the local level to put them on record.

    Unfortunately the populace is not loud enough in their outrage, and being at these public meetings and bringing friends to speak up makes a difference.
    If FDOT puts it on the local MPO’s and municipalities, then take them up on this and demand safer local roads, and demand FDOT build safer roads.

  6. I got another form letter, this time from Debbie Hunt, Debbie Hunt
    Assistant Secretary Intermodal Systems Development. It reads as follows:

    Dear Mr. Perez,

    Thank you for your e-mail regarding the need for safety improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists in the state. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and its safety partners continue to work on effective solutions to provide a safe transportation system for all of its users.

    In 2008, pedestrian deaths continued their decline from a high of 576 in 2005 to 502, a reduction of close to 15 percent. It is clear that the strategies the FDOT are working on with its safety partners are making a difference, but there is still more that we can do to further reduce this number. Our focus on the state level within our Strategic Highway Safety Plan continues to be on those ‘vulnerable road users’ who share the road with motor vehicles.
    The state is also involved in a multitude of other pedestrian/bicyclist safety measures. The outcome of a 2005 statewide bicycle facilities study required the department to document whether or not bikeways are included in roadway project designs. The Florida Legislature passed a bill that same year to require a full stop by motorists for sight impaired pedestrians with a properly identified guide dog or service animal. In 2006, the “three foot law” was passed requiring motorists to allow that much room when passing a bicyclist.

    The department currently employs focus groups under the vulnerable road users emphasis area of the Strategic Highway Safety Plan mentioned above, and there is also the department’s bicycle/pedestrian interest group that meets regularly to discuss safety issues. Dennis Scott, the department’s Safety Office bicycle/pedestrian coordinator, is involved with many offices within FDOT to provide input and suggestions at various stages of planning and design.

    Finally, as strategies are developed and lessons are learned from all over the country, there is recognition on what works and is measured in Minnesota or Illinois may not work here especially considering the wonderful weather available to Florida’s citizens throughout the year. This unique circumstance can also offer the department opportunity to develop innovative solutions that can be used elsewhere.

    The Florida Department of Transportation appreciates your interest in pedestrian and bicyclist safety. As you correctly note, we are all pedestrians at many times throughout our busy days and the department and its safety partners work continuously to make those travels safer for all.

    Sincerely,

    Debbie Hunt
    Assistant Secretary,
    Intermodal Systems Development

    It’s another form letter full of pats on their backs for what has been achieved with a pass-the-ball attitude on the issue. I would much rather get a “we effed up, we’re working on it” letter that accepts responsibility than this drivel.

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