ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Orange County has big plans for pedestrian improvements, but they will take years to implement. You could actually see a pained look on Mayor Teresa Jacobs' face when FOX 35 pointed out that she had been in office for five years, yet parts of Central Florida have finished dead last in pedestrian safety for the last three consecutive years.
"Yeah, we are still dead last, and we've been dead last for quite a while. We intend to change that," she said.
Change will be difficult. We went to the intersection of Pine Street and Orange Avenue in downtown Orlando and watched over and over as pedestrians crossed when and where they wanted with no regard for crosswalks and walk signals. It's a problem Commissioner Ted Edwards knows all too well.
"As a driver it is incredible how stupid pedestrians can be!" Edwards said.
Mayor Jacobs knows even the pedestrians and bikers that do the right thing face dangers on the roads. She wants the information campaign ramped up.
"We are seeing a lot of accidents related to just behavior modification that needs to take place, and that's why a big part of this effort that has to take place is going to be a campaign."
There is a new logo, but how many lives will that save? The county is pinning its hopes on a $15 million plan to improve major intersections, add crosswalks and even some mid-block crossings. Mayor Jacobs said they have the data to do it right.
"Looking at those really critical corridors where we've had too many accidents to write it off as individual decisions. Is there something we can do? Are there designs we can build into our roadways?
The biggest problem is timing. The county is setting a million dollars aside in 2016 to redesign three of the most problematic pedestrian and biking areas: Alafaya and University by UCF, Pine Hills Road, and Oak Ridge Road. Only the design of the improvements will take place in 2016. Construction of the new improvements will take three years total.