Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thoughts in response to FDOT Secretary Prasad's statement on bike/ped facilities

Yesterday's Sun Sentinel (Orlando) paper carried a story about Florida's ranking as the most dangerous place for pedestrians, as a follow-on to the NYT story on Monday, based on the May 2011 Dangerous by Design report by Transportation for America.

At the end of this article there's an intriguing statement by FDOT Secretary Prasad. As you may recall, Secretary Prasad alarmed bike/ped advocates back in March when he testified before Congress that it might not make sense to build sidewalks and bike trails if money is tight. Click here to see BikeWalkLee's written testimony to Congress in response to Secretary Prasad's statement. According to the Sun Sentinel article, Prasad told Sun Sentinel in June that "DOT should not have pre-established goals when it comes to pedestrian improvements. "We need to make sure it's needs driven rather than a fixed amount of money or a percentage of the program spent on landscaping or sidewalks where they might not make sense," Prasad said.

My reaction on reading this...was YES, let's make funding needs-based! With 22% of all traffic fatalities in Florida being pedestrians and bicyclists, on a needs basis, that means that 22% of Florida's funding for roadway safety should be directed to making the roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists! National, state, and local advocates, including BikeWalkLee, have long advocated for a "fair share" of safety funds. Currently, Florida probably spends between 1-5% (depending on how you measure it)of its safety funds on bike/ped safety improvements. So, if FDOT is serious about a needs-based approach, maybe we'll see increases in bike/ped funding. I for one will be watching FDOT very closely! What are your thoughts?

Darla Letourneau

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