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New study ranks Florida at #1 for pedestrian fatalities

Published: Mar. 10, 2021 at 6:08 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Miami, Tampa, Orlando, and Jacksonville are some of the cities on a list of 20 in the country that are the deadliest for pedestrians according to a study by Smart Growth America.

“And we’re just not seeing the progress we need to see,” said Beth Osborne, the VP of transportation for the organization.

Smart Growth America list
Smart Growth America list(WCJB)

The Dangerous by Design report ranks Florida with the highest pedestrian danger index in the country— nine Florida cities made the list. From 2010 to 2019, pedestrian fatalities increased by 45% across the country.

“When you’re in a heavily developed area there are points of conflict whether streets where other cars are gonna cross or driveways where other cars are going to come in or people that might be crossing either it is on foot, or in a wheelchair or in bike or in a scooter these days,” mentioned Osborne.

“The way you keep a conflict-filled zone safe if you slow down the traffic.”

While Gainesville wasn’t included, Gainesville police reported nearly 100 traffic stops on a pedestrian-heavy stretch of University Avenue in the first week of March.

RELATED STORY: UF students, lawyers fight for safety on University Avenue after student deaths

“Accident is an artful term that gets everyone out of responsibility and makes it possible to pretend like there’s nothing that can be done,” added Osborne. “It was just a whoops but a person’s life is not a whoops. It is a crash and we know the factors that are more likely to lead to a crash and are more likely to make that crash deadly and we are choosing not to do anything about it.”

A solution Smart Growth America suggested to reduce pedestrian fatalities on roads just like University Avenue is to completely re-design the road. A University of Florida student agrees and is working with her peers to make sure not one more life is taken on the road.

“But it should not have taken one life after Maggie, after Sophia, for changes to be made and roads to be reconsidered in the state of Florida,” said UF student Kailey Kiss. She’s now an advocate and has more than 100 students in her new organization, named Florida Not One More. She’s partnering with Smart Growth America to remind people of the dangers of failing to create a long-term safe environment for future students.

RELATED STORY: Gainesville pedestrian advocacy groups create “Not one More” plan to limit pedestrian safety risks

“University Avenue’s road design makes it so easy to speed,” mentioned Kiss. “We have a 30 miles per hour speed limit and like I said that is a state road. They designed that road not to be a safe road for college students, that wasn’t even considered all they considered is how do people on this road get from point a to point b.”

Kiss is now working to get the Florida Department of Transportation on board for a redesign.

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