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Fort Lauderdale Envisions Accident-Free Zone

South Florida is well-established as one of the most dangerous places for bicyclists and pedestrians. It’s not a great place for motorists either. The Florida Pedestrian and Bicycle Strategic Safety Plan report indicated that while the Sunshine States represents 6 percent of the U.S. population, we account for 11 percent of all pedestrian deaths and 17.4 percent of all bicycle fatalities. bicyclists

Imagine if we could go an entire year with no one dying while driving a car, crossing the street or riding alongside traffic in a bicycle.

That’s the goal of city leader’s with the Fort Lauderdale Vision Zero plan. The plan is modeled after a project in Sweden that has caught on in New York City, Portland, San Francisco and other major cities dedicated to the promotion of road safety for all street users – not just those in cars. 

Fort Lauderdale is the first city in the Southeastern U.S. to launch the initiative. In the “Vision Zero Quick Guide,” city leaders outline their plan for driving down bicycle accidents, pedestrian deaths and motor vehicle crashes. It involves three basic principles:

  • There is no such thing as an acceptable level of fatality or injury on Fort Lauderdale streets.
  • Traffic deaths and injuries aren’t accidents. Rather, they are preventable crashes.
  • The public has a right to expect safe behavior on city streets, and they also share a responsibility to actively participate in efforts to make them safer.

One of the first things the city did in furtherance of this effort was see where the public had the most concerns. In a 2014 City of Fort Lauderdale Neighbor Survey, residents ranked No. 1 the “safety of biking.” Others in the top 10 traffic concerns included “safety of walking” and “availability of trails.”

In 2012, this city had a pedestrian fatality rate of 5.86 per 100,000 residents. That was the second-highest in the entire country. The total number of traffic deaths here was ranked 5th in the nation. In 2014, officials tallied 10,879 total traffic crashes and 24 deaths. Of those deaths, half were pedestrians and 3 were bicyclists. Additionally, there were 162 pedestrians and 95 bicyclists injured.

Those on foot and two wheels are more vulnerable as road users, and they have higher rates of death and injury than those in a motor vehicle. In this city, 1 in 18 pedestrians involved in a crash die. Same with 1 in 71 bicyclists. For motorists, the figure is 1 in 386.

Most crashes involving bicyclists and pedestrians happen September through April. Fridays from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. was the worst time. Most of these incidents happen in the daytime, during clear weather and on dry roads. That tells us a big part of the problem is the design of the roads and the culture of our drivers.

The 5 E’s of the Vision Zero plan will involve:

  • Education – Educating those of all ages and abilities on the best safe streets practices.
  • Engineering – Creating safe and convenient environments in which to drive, bike and walk.
  • Encouragement – Promoting and encouraging behavioral change and participation through new and existing resources, special events and other public outreach.
  • Enforcement – Enforcing laws that encourage motorists to observe traffic laws and slow down.
  • Evaluation – Collect data to help measure the successes and strategies being implemented.

The city launched the initiative last month. Soon, there is going to be the formation of a steering committee that will jump start these initiatives and create progress reports either every year or every other year (depending on resources).

If you have been injured in an accident, contact the Hollander Law Firm at (888) 751-7770 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.

Additional Resources:

Vision Zero, Safer Streets for Fort Lauderdale, Quick Guide

More Blog Entries:

Heard v. Tilden – Deliberate Indifference to Prisoners’ Rights, Jan. 9, 2016, Fort Lauderdale Bicycle Accident Lawyer Blog