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Are Florida’s roads really that deadly for pedestrians? | Letters
Here’s what readers are saying in Friday’s letters to the editor.
The Tampa Bay area ranked eighth deadliest in the country for pedestrians, a study released Wednesday found.
The Tampa Bay area ranked eighth deadliest in the country for pedestrians, a study released Wednesday found.
Published Mar. 15
Updated Mar. 15

Editor’s note: The Florida Department of Transportation pushed back against some of the conclusions in a recent report about pedestrian deaths. Below you will find FDOT’s statement followed by a statement from Smart Growth America, which published the report Dangerous By Design.

About those numbers

Tampa Bay is the eighth-deadliest metro area to walk in America. That must change. | Editorial, March 10

The Dangerous by Design report considers select data points, which ultimately results in an inaccurate portrayal of the safety conditions across Florida’s transportation system. In addition, the report compares states and metropolitan areas across the nation, but does not take into account important geographic and demographic nuances, resulting in a one size fits all methodology for the assessment. Safety is at the root of all we do, and I am proud that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently recognized Florida’s robust pedestrian and bicycle safety program as a national gold standard program. Achieving our target of zero fatalities is a collaborative duty and, in conjunction with our safety partners, FDOT will continue to design and build a transportation system that meets the unique needs of all Floridians.

Kevin J. Thibault, FDOT secretary

Not so fast FDOT

FDOT may not like our methodology, but by any available measure the state is going in the wrong direction. It’s hard to take seriously the claim that “safety is at the heart of all that we do” when the state continues to invest millions of dollars in the same wide, high-speed, multi-lane arterials that are designed for speed and create danger, particularly for those outside of a car. We indeed recognized Florida in 2017 for its Complete Streets plan, and we often hold up the state’s context sensitive roadway design guide as a model for what others should adopt.

Unfortunately, FDOT does not routinely use this same excellent guide for its own work. Their hard work in planning is not being implemented on their roadways, which is why the safety for people walking in Florida is getting worse, not better. Nearly 5,900 people were struck and killed on Florida streets in the last decade, and the state should be judged on the hard numbers rather than on institutional claims of prioritizing safety. We look forward to seeing real implementation of their impressive Complete Streets plan and are confident that, when that happens, we will begin to see change in the safety trends as well.

Beth Osborne, Transportation for America director

Love for Clay Bennett

Republican fire bucket cartoon | March 9

That Clay Bennett cartoon Tuesday of the fire bucket on its side, empty, with the elephant-shaped hole cut in the bottom is the best, truest political cartoon I’ve seen in a long time. A perfect, vividly simple message.

Steve Douglas, St. Petersburg