A busy crossroads between a bicycle trail and a busy street in Winter Park has City Commissioners considering additional safety measures – and could prompt another look at pedestrian safety as a whole throughout the city.
The intersection of Cady Way and the Cady Way Trail became a topic of discussion during last Monday’s Winter Park City Commission meeting after one commissioner said they recently had a close call.
“I almost hit someone on a bicycle who went right in front of me, and it scared me to death,” City Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel said. “I’m always so cautious when I come there because people go across, but I’m very concerned about that intersection.”
“It is just a matter of time before someone gets hit.”
Mayor Steve Leary said he also noticed how dangerous the intersection was firsthand.
“That’s happened to me too,” he said. “I travel at 10 miles per hour as I’m going through it and someone just came cruising through there.”
Leary asked city staff whether there could be some type of traffic calming done to the trail itself to slow down bicyclists or perhaps bumps in the road early enough to slow down drivers.
But Monday’s discussion was just a glimpse into a broader issue of public safety throughout the region. Orange County continues to lead the state with the highest number of pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities and injuries, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. During 2014 in Orange County, there were 52 total pedestrians and bicyclists killed in traffic collisions.
Residents took a moment on Monday earlier in the meeting to express their concerns about pedestrian safety along Park Avenue, a busy road where drivers often pull up very close to pedestrians crossing the street – or don’t wait for them to cross at all.
“The pedestrian safety issue in Central Florida is embarrassing, humiliating,” Pamela Peters said. “Last week a friend of our family was killed while walking with her daughter, who was injured. These tragedies should not be occurring.”
“I think there’s an awful lot more we can do as a community. Part of it is the whole lack of respect you see. Part of it is distraction for sure, but I think respect for pedestrians in particular isn’t the culture we have in Winter Park.”
But it’s not just drivers – Park Avenue and other streets in the downtown core are infamous for jaywalkers who put themselves at risk, said resident Linda Erikson, adding that everyone needs a refresher on a safety.
“I’m guilty of jaywalking a lot,” she said. “We have to train people to use the walkways.”
The Winter Park Police Department kicked off a $19,000 grant program in April to help fight this exact issue.
Lt. Pam Marcum of the Winter Park Police Department told the Observer that, between calls for assistance, officers frequently look for jaywalking pedestrians or drivers running red lights, but don’t have the chance to keep on the lookout for an entire patrol.
The grant allowed officers to do just that, incentivizing them to take part in a three-pronged process over the span of a few months where they first handed out educational materials on public safety, followed by warnings and then finally citations.
Marcum said the grant program is no longer going, but that it’s possible the police department could do something similar in the future.
The City Commission will wait to hear back from city staff about what can be done about the Cady Way Trail intersection.