The Florida Department of Transportation is responsible for the Florida Pedestrian and Bicycle Program, which has a dedicated staff, many resources, and educational materials to help prevent Florida pedestrian accidents. The Florida Pedestrian and Bicycle Program makes educational brochures available and also runs the Florida School Crossing Guard Program and the Florida Traffic Safety Education Program.
The Florida Pedestrian and Bicycle Program is designed to help pedestrians (which in Florida are defined as anyone “afoot, in a wheelchair, on skates, or on a skateboard” enjoy safe and pleasant walking. The program also aims to assist bicyclists enjoy safe and convenient tours and bike trips. The program aims to reduce pedestrian accidents and automobile accidents involving bicyclists.
One of the most interesting programs run by the Florida Pedestrian and Bicycle Program is the Safe Ways to School program. According to a study conducted by the Florida Department of Transportation, only one out of six Florida children take a bike or walk to school. Five out of six Florida children get to school by bus or by private motor vehicle. This can actually create unsafe walking conditions, as it creates traffic congestion around schools and increases overall traffic.
The Florida Department of Transportation in conjunction with the Florida Pedestrian and Bicycle Program have launched the Safe Ways to School program to encourage walking to school. As the organizations point out, walking to school encourages exercise, which is essential at a time when childhood cardiovascular disease and obesity are at all-time high. Safe Ways to School is modeled on the Melville, Australia program “Safe School Routes,” which won a number of awards. Safe School Routes created solutions to traffic congestion and launched school initiatives such as safe houses and bus solutions to encourage safe spaces where children could walk to school.
The Florida Department of Transportation Safe Ways to School similarly uses traffic congestion and other incentives to encourage walking and to make walking to school safer. The Safe Ways to School focuses on infrastructure and non-infrastructure solutions. For example, the program aims to improve sidewalks, add signs, and reduce traffic in school areas. The program also focuses on non-infrastructure solutions such as enforcement of pedestrian and automobile legislation. The program has a school kit available for educators who wish to know more about the program.
Many parents want their children to walk to school or to get the exercise needed to stay healthy. However, fears of pedestrian accidents and other dangers propel many parents to drive their children almost everywhere. This may not only encourage obesity, but may cause children to become overly dependent on cars. The Florida Department of Transportation hopes to change all this in the near future.