A research study published in the American Journal of Public Health this past spring showed a Florida state law passed years ago has been effective in making Florida safer, saying “Florida’s pedestrian fatality rates decreased significantly — by at least 0.500% more each quarter — after Statute 335.065 was adopted, resulting in more than 3500 lives saved across 29 years. Interviewees described supports and challenges associated with implementing the law.” Pedestrians, of course, are non-motorists, and Florida is kind of a driver’s haven which also has an enormous influx of tourists. In a single year, recently there were well over 100 million tourists who visited the Sunshine state.
Naturally, many of them are Americans who come to get a break from winter weather, party on Spring Break, or just to visit at any time of year. These folks grew up driving in America, but there are also many foreign tourists who visit and drive around in rental vehicles, perhaps without being fully aware of local laws.
Of the US states, Florida is one of the top ones for pedestrian fatalities. It also has one of the highest counts for hit-and-run accidents. Florida’s Highway 1 has been called the most dangerous road in America.
Given these driving conditions and issues, trying to add more pedestrian and bike transportation infrastructure would seem like a huge challenge, but that is exactly what Statute 335.065 was intended to accomplish.
“Bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be given full consideration in the planning and development of transportation facilities, including the incorporation of such ways into state, regional, and local transportation plans and programs. Bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be established in conjunction with the construction, reconstruction, or other change of any state transportation facility, and special emphasis shall be given to projects in or within 1 mile of an urban area.”
Bicyclists and pedestrians have the right to use roadways too, but they sometimes need forms of accommodation to encourage this form of transportation. Walking and biking obviously have health benefits for individuals, but they can also add economic value to local economies because they increase traffic in retail areas.
Improving biking and walking infrastructure can also increase public transportation ridership because it is easier to move between train and bus stations.
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