Yes, we have our Secretary of the Florida DOT, Ananth Prasad. He’s over the whole agency. He’s the one that saw the problem as something that was not acceptable to him in a leadership role, and he brought me onboard specifically to champion this initiative. He’s the one that is behind all of this, and that has provided me just enormous backing to drive things fast and hard to get this change to occur in the state of Florida.
We have seven geographic districts, and I’m responsible for one of the seven. And, by the way, when we started this, we had four regions in the top five worst in the Dangerous by Design report. When he made his announcement that he had asked me to lead this to the assistant secretaries and district secretaries, he said, “We’re not going to stop with our top four. We’re going to work on our top ten worst regions with this focused initiative.” So we have a lot of ground to cover.
It’s not just four cities the way the Dangerous by Design article leads you to believe, like it lists Orlando. It’s really the entire Orange and Osceola County region, where the problems are, so it’s metropolitan Orlando, metropolitan Miami, metropolitan Tampa and metropolitan Jacksonville. It’s very large areas.
Getting back to the high-visibility enforcement, when we go into these corridors where we have problems, once we’ve identified the engineering solutions and are able to get those in place, depending on how much funding is involved, we’re also using the high-visibility enforcement to both educate and enforce against bad behavior with pedestrians and with the motorists.
One of our biggest problems is that we don’t get yielding behavior from the motorists at intersections, especially because we have right turn on red. Not everybody stops, and so drivers will encroach on pedestrians as pedestrians are crossing legally, and then we have pedestrians that – because our signals are so far apart in many places on the higher-speed roads, they are crossing where it makes sense for them to cross. In cases that can be a problem, depending on whether there are cars coming when they cross or not. So that’s an existing problem issue that we’re working on.
At the same time that we’re working on that, we’re also working on changing our approach to design and policies. I’m hoping that in August we will pass our first state Complete Streets policy, and we’ll be developing an implementation plan to carry that forward. We have a huge amount of work, and this is something that the Secretary and I, are determined to see the fatalities go down.