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Florida leads the nation in the number of pedestrians killed while walking on the street.
The state (25.6% Latino) had the highest Pedestrian Danger Index numbers, according to the latest Dangerous by Design report from Smart Growth America.
In response, Grover Robinson, the mayor of Pensacola, announced that the city created a new staff position to increase the safety of city roads by advancing Complete Streets.
This is another step in the city’s plans to make pedestrian safety a priority, following the Florida Department of Transportation updating their 30-year old Complete Streets policy in 2014.
“The problem we have is that we’ve done such a good job at building streets, and building them for cars, and building them for cars to go fairly fast that they aren’t really compatible for people to be able to walk across,” Robinson told the Pensacola News Journal.
Complete Streets, a transportation policy and design approach, are developed to enable safe access for all users — including people walking, biking, taking transit, and drivers. However, many cities lack the consistency in city planning needed to implement bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, policy.
Still, Pensacola city officials plan to make Complete Streets a reality.
For more than three months, the 12-member mayoral transition team analyzed ideas, suggestions, and data to develop recommendations for the betterment of the community.
Since safe streets are an important issue to Robinson and the community, traffic and walkability were one of 11 pillars included in the final City of Pensacola Mayoral Transition Committee report, authored by Drew Buchanan.
“The Pensacola metro is among the most dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists not only in the State of Florida, but the entire country—with more pedestrian and bicyclists injuries per capita than New York City and Chicago, combined,” the report states.
Of the 55 individual recommendations across the 11 topic areas, one suggestion Robinson supported was the creation of a new safe streets staff position. This role is solely responsible for bicycle-pedestrian issues that include: Complete Streets objectives, multi-modal alternative transportation, and walkability.
On March 15, the job posting went live on the city’s website.
“The issue is not how we construct more roads; it is how we maintain and rebuild what we have now, and ultimately, create a 21st-century network of Complete Streets that are accessible for all users and citizens,” the report states.
Under the 2010 City Charter, the mayor can hire and fire city staff; however, he will likely create a committee to review applicants.