Smart Growth America and the National Complete Streets Coalition publishes an annual report that ranks states and cities around the country using its “Pedestrian Danger Index” which reflects how deadly it is for people to walk in our cities and states. The annual report is titled “Dangerous By Design.”
As this year’s report found that Florida’s walkways are by far the most dangerous in the country and apparently becoming more so, it may be said that Florida’s hazardous walking conditions statute which describes criteria for determining whether a walking condition is hazardous for students has literally not kept pace with the flow of traffic in Florida. It poses a hazard to our students in its own right.
Consider this from the hazardous walking conditions statute:
- An intersection that has stop lights or stop signs and a traffic volume of less than 4,000 vehicles per hour is not considered hazardous in the statute. That’s 67 vehicles per minute, more than 1 vehicle every second. (para. (2)(b)2)
- An intersection that has no stop lights or stop signs and a traffic volume of less than 360 vehicles per hour in each direction is not considered hazardous in the statute. That’s a total of 12 vehicles per minute, a total of 1 vehicle every 5 seconds. (para. (2)(b)1)
- A road that has little or no area adjacent to the road for a student to walk on and has a traffic volume of less than 180 vehicles per hour in each direction is not considered hazardous in the statute. That’s a total of 6 vehicles per minute, a total of 1 vehicle every 10 seconds. (para. (2)(a))
Would you let your kids walk across or along (or on) such streets? How comfortable would you be walking there yourself?
Under the statute, there is no consideration given to the complexity of intersections and the improvements to roads that have been designed to expedite vehicle traffic. These improvements – wider roadways, right turn on red, left turn lanes, free flow right turn lanes – have earned a cautionary note in the Florida DOT Greenbook (page 8-6, para. C.3) about the inherent hazards they pose for pedestrians, but they have not yet been accounted for in the hazardous walking conditions statute.
We hope to change that.