PORT MANATEE -- A top state transportation agency official Tuesday advocated "road diets" and other fixes to cut down the number of bicycle and pedestrian injuries and deaths in Florida.
Billy Hattaway, District One secretary for the Florida Department of Transportation, noted the Sunshine State is among five states with the worst records for pedestrian and bike safety.
Hattaway outlined statewide initiatives, such as an overhaul of all bike/pedestrian programs and improvements in planning for road building, to make Florida safer and friendlier to those on foot or bikes.
He discussed how "road
diets" can make congested, urban areas safer, and a culture change among millennials and empty-nesters, who want to live in neighborhoods where they can do errands on foot rather than using a car.
By trimming the number of lanes in such areas and adding pedestrian friendly amenities, road designers can provide more attractive and safer places for everyone, he said.
Fixes he suggested included providing onstreet parking along roads without them, "pedestrian islands" where people can pause as they cross in mid-block, better bike lanes and modern roundabouts that reduce accident injuries and move traffic more efficiently than a traffic signal.
"And it's pretty," interjected Florida Transportation Commission Chairman Jay Trumbull as Hattaway showed slides of conventional urban streets converted to better accommodate walkers and bike riders.
Sarasota County joined the Top 15 "high priority counties" in the state where the transportation agency intends to focus its efforts, according to Hattaway's presentation Tuesday at a meeting of the commission at Port Manatee.
"There are a lot of things we'll have to do differently," Hattaway told the commission, a citizen's oversight board for the transportation agency.
The panel will to continue its work in Manatee County when it meets at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Lakewood Ranch Town Hall, 8175 Lakewood Ranch Blvd. The meeting is free and is open to the public.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.