Study: Orlando's pedestrian safety has improved, but it's still dangerous

By Julie Gargotta, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 11, 2017, 10:25 PM EST

The numbers are out: Orlando is showing improvement in making roadways safer for pedestrians.

  • Orlando is third-most dangerous metro area for pedestrians in US, study says
  • Orlando was ranked No. 1 in the previous two Dangerous by Design studies
  • Central Florida will pour $600M into safety improvements over next 5 years

The last two Dangerous by Design studies ranked Orlando No. 1 as the most dangerous metro area in the United States in terms of pedestrian danger. This year, the region came in at No. 3.

The national study ranks 104 metro areas in the country on pedestrian safety. Experts, like Mighk Wilson at MetroPlan Orlando, said that the added street lights, crosswalks and wider medians are helping.

"Our score has improved; it's dropped," Wilson said. "So, we are making progress. It actually validates what we've been doing."

Wilson said that he's spent his entire life tackling sustainable transportation and safety issues, such as pedestrian fatalities.

It's a problem that plagues Central Florida: there have been 575 pedestrian deaths between 2005 and 2014, according to the Smart Growth study.

Three fatal pedestrian crashes happened within the past week along John Young Parkway in Orlando.  The most recent was on Monday, when a 59-year-old man was killed while crossing the roadway near Consulate Drive.

Wilson said the high number of accidents in Florida are due to several factors, including lakes, which pose a problem for creating a grid system of roads. Instead, roadways curve around bodies of water and are condensed into fewer, wider streets which move quickly.

"All of Florida has developed more recently. Our roads are designed for, and drivers are used to, driving faster," he said. "When there is a crash, it's more likely to be serious or fatal."

Over the next five years, Central Florida will pour about $600 million into safety improvements via local, state and federal funding.

Road improvements, like wider pedestrian landings called bulb-outs or curb extensions, could help to slow traffic making turns.

However, eight of the top 10 dangerous areas in the country are in the sunshine state.

Orlando dropped slightly, but areas like Titusville were added to the list — coming in at No. 2.

"We're just working every angle of it," Wilson said. "It's problems that have built up over decades that we're trying to turn around. So, it's that big ocean liner you've got to slow down and go the other direction."