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 the most recent report found that Florida’s walkways are by far the most dangerous in the country and are 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. The statute itself is hazardous to our students.
Take a look at the criteria from the hazardous walking conditions statute and ask yourself if you would find these conditions to be safe for your children and grandchildren. Would they be safe for you?
- 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. Therefore, it’s considered safe for a child on his way to school to cross an intersection that has a stop light or stop sign unless more than 67 vehicles pass through the intersection per minute, a rate of 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. Therefore, it’s considered safe for a child on her way to school to cross an intersection that has no stop light or stop sign unless more than 12 vehicles pass through the intersection 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. Therefore, a child does not need to have a sidewalk or any other kind of suitable area to walk off of the roadway unless vehicles pass them at a rate of at least 1 every 10 seconds. (para. (2)(a))
Additionally, 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 warning in the Florida DOT Greenbook (page 8-6, para. C.3) about the inherent hazards they pose for everyday pedestrians, but these hazards haven’t yet been accounted for in the hazardous walking conditions statute that applies to our children.
We hope to change that.