The Veterans Expressway in Tampa (State Route 589) will soon be the latest highway in the country to get a dynamically priced express lane in each direction. However, unlike most other managed lanes around the nation, which are typically implemented on an untolled roadway, the Veterans Expressway already has a toll for its general-purpose lanes.
Until recently, Florida had the dubious distinction of being rated the most dangerous state for pedestrians. However, a new study shows that things could have been even worse in Florida. Researchers estimate that Florida’s Complete Streets law, passed in 1984, saved 3500 lives between when the law was passed and 2013. Florida’s pedestrian fatality rates decreased nearly 60 percent after Statute 335.065 was adopted, but transportation agency experts interviewed for the study said the state still has a long way to go.
Research sponsored by Florida DOT details new methods for studying bicycling safety by mounting cameras and sensors on bikes ridden in naturalistic settings. The research gives us insight into the behavior of both bicyclists and drivers, the types of conflicts that occur, and route selection by bicyclists. This methodology holds the potential to improve safety and allow transportation professionals to target engineering, education, and enforcement activities.
A new report by ProPublica and the Florida Times-Union details how efforts to ostensibly improve pedestrian safety in a Florida city consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous places to walk in the U.S. have actually resulted in inequitable ticketing of the city’s black population. The report points out that this is especially unfortunate because the same black and low-income neighborhoods where a majority of tickets were issued also lack safe pedestrian facilities: transit access is poor and many bus stops do not sidewalk connections.
The Orlando area has received a grant of close to $12 million to utilize innovative transportation system technologies to improve the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists and to ease congestion. The grant was awarded by an FHA that seeks ideal deployment sites for large-scale installation and operation of advanced transportation technologies. The program’s goals are to improve safety, efficiency, system performance, and infrastructure return on investment.
As part of its Complete Streets Implementation, the Florida Department of Transportation recently adopted eight context classifications to guide road design decisions. Under this new system, planners and engineers will consider existing and future characteristics such as land uses, building configuration, and street connectivity to ensure that roads are designed for the right vehicle speeds, road users, and trip types.
The Florida Department of Transportation plans to lower design speeds in some urban areas to 25-30 mph to improve roadway safety. This makes FDOT one of the first states to tackle head-on the safety impacts of vehicle speeds. Speed is one of the most significant factors in roadway crashes and fatalities in the U.S., and an especially serious problem for pedestrians and bicyclists.
The Florida Department of Transportation has achieved a major milestone in its efforts to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety. In late April, FDOT issued a draft of the new FDOT Design Manual, which integrates a context-sensitive Complete Streets approach and will replace the agency’s current Plans Preparation Manual. FDOT has also released a draft of its new Complete Streets Handbook to accompany the Design Manual. SSTI spoke with Billy Hattaway, P.E., former Secretary of FDOT District 1, about the Complete Streets implementation efforts.
In a presentation to the SSTI’s Community of Practice meeting earlier this month, Billy Hattaway, Florida DOT’s District One Secretary, described his agency’s ongoing efforts to improve statewide safety through road design and attention to land use. He emphasized that he prefers to see safety improvements made through engineering solutions, before relying on education and enforcement. The state’s complete streets initiative is a focal point of its recent efforts.
This spring, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a policy statement on automated vehicles, which offers guidance for states that are considering authorizing tests of driverless vehicles. Three states—California, Florida, and Nevada—now explicitly authorize self-driving cars to operate on public roads for testing purposes. Michigan is expected to become the fourth state by the end of the year. Although not explicitly authorized, driverless cars are not specifically prohibited anywhere in the nation and are assumed to be legal throughout the U.S.