Leveraging What We Already Know to Solve a Problem That We Already Understand

In government, there can be a tendency to smother progress and momentum by unnecessarily commissioning studies and hiring consultants to tell us what decades of research and our own expertise have already told us. Whether we’re parents who know something about kids’ cognitive capacity and the dangers they face in the world or are transportation professionals who see, interpret, and mitigate hazards in the transportation realm every day, we not only know the problem with Florida’s Hazardous Walking Conditions statute, we know the solutions to them, or at least we know where to find them.

The good thing about resolving a problem like the one posed by the inadequacies of Florida’s Hazardous Walking Conditions statute is that there is an abundance of relevant expert material available for us to evaluate and consider. In fact, there is an extraordinary amount of information and research already at our fingertips.

The legislation that we’re proposing has made thorough use of those resources as well as our own knowledge and experience to arrive at a sound solution. There’s no need to play around with this. We all know what needs to be done.

Our proposal changes the current “reasonable walking distance” from 2 miles to 1.25 miles.

Our proposal changes the width of a suitable unpaved surface from 4 feet to 5 feet adjacent to and separate from the edge of the road and any paved road shoulder.

Our proposal specifically states that any portion of drainage ditches, sluiceways, swales, channels, or other stormwater runoff facilities or systems are not suitable walkways and that railroad crossings, bridges, and overpasses that lack paved walkways designed for pedestrians are also not suitable walkways.

Our proposal states that students “shall not be required to cross a roadway between intersections or outside of marked crosswalks in order to acquire a safe walkway parallel to the road.”

Our proposal replaces the current intersection criteria that requires a minimum of 360 vehicles per hour in each direction (a total of 1 vehicle every 5 seconds) at intersections that don’t have traffic signals and a minimum of 4,000 vehicles per hour (more than 1 vehicle every second) at intersections that do have traffic signals with a criteria that considers the complexity of the intersection. Our proposal states that when “students must cross more than two lanes of traffic, including turn lanes and free-flow right turn lanes, that have a posted speed limit of 35 mph or greater or the designated crossing site is situated in a location where it is likely that pedestrians crossing the roadway on “green” will encounter traffic turning from left turn lanes, lanes where a right turn on red is authorized, and free-flow right turn lanes.”

Currently, there is no requirement for there to be a suitable walkway alongside the road if the traffic volume is not at least 180 vehicles per hour in each direction (a total of 1 vehicle every 10 seconds). Our proposal changes that traffic volume to 3 vehicles per minute.

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