Sunday, December 13, 2009

Response from FDOT Assistant Secretary Debbie Hunt to Florida Rails to Trails Conservancy Letter: "Please protect Florida's pedestrians"

From: Del Moral, Cecile [] On Behalf Of Hunt, Debbie
Sent: Friday, December 11, 2009 2:07 PM
To: Darla Letourneau
Subject: RE: Please protect Florida's pedestrians

Dear Ms. Letourneau,

Thank you for your e-mail regarding the need for safety improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists in the state. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and its safety partners continue to work on effective solutions to provide a safe transportation system for all of its users.

In 2008, pedestrian deaths continued their decline from a high of 576 in 2005 to 502, a reduction of close to 15 percent. It is clear that the strategies the FDOT are working on with its safety partners are making a difference, but there is still more that we can do to further reduce this number. Our focus on the state level within our Strategic Highway Safety Plan continues to be on those 'vulnerable road users' who share the road with motor vehicles.
The state is also involved in a multitude of other pedestrian/bicyclist safety measures. The outcome of a 2005 statewide bicycle facilities study required the department to document whether or not bikeways are included in roadway project designs. The Florida Legislature passed a bill that same year to require a full stop by motorists for sight impaired pedestrians with a properly identified guide dog or service animal. In 2006, the "three foot law" was passed requiring motorists to allow that much room when passing a bicyclist.

The department currently employs focus groups under the vulnerable road users emphasis area of the Strategic Highway Safety Plan mentioned above, and there is also the department's bicycle/pedestrian interest group that meets regularly to discuss safety issues. Dennis Scott, the department's Safety Office bicycle/pedestrian coordinator, is involved with many offices within FDOT to provide input and suggestions at various stages of planning and design.

Finally, as strategies are developed and lessons are learned from all over the country, there is recognition on what works and is measured in Minnesota or Illinois may not work here especially considering the wonderful weather available to Florida's citizens throughout the year. This unique circumstance can also offer the department opportunity to develop innovative solutions that can be used elsewhere.

The Florida Department of Transportation appreciates your interest in pedestrian and bicyclist safety. As you correctly note, we are all pedestrians at many times throughout our busy days and the department and its safety partners work continuously to make those travels safer for all.


Debbie Hunt
Assistant Secretary,
Intermodal Systems Development

605 Suwannee Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399

Telephone: 850-414-4100

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