JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s that time of year when kids are walking or riding their bikes to school.
Jacksonville City Council member LeAnna Cumber, who represents the Southbank and San Marco areas (District 5), is urging students, parents, and drivers to be aware.
“It is a busy world,” Cumber said. “People spend a lot of time on their phones and so forth. Kids are also walking with phones and biking. I think it’s really critical to talk about it more.”
Jacksonville is now the sixth deadliest city in the United States for pedestrians, according to Smart Growth America, which is a nonprofit aiming to make city streets safer.
The River City moved four spots on that list within the last year.
Greg Driskell, who works to improve traffic safety, said everyone should be prepared for the unexpected. Driskell recommends drivers slow down and for everyone to remain attentive.
“Slowing down will not only give them more time to react because of the unexpected, but also dramatically increases the chance of survival if a student is hit,” Driskell said, who is also the past chairman of the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) and current CEO of PPP Transportation Safety Innovations. “Impacts of over 45 mph are most likely going to end in a fatality.”
According to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, in Duval County this year, 27 pedestrians and two bicyclists have been killed.
Another 169 bicyclists were hurt on the road and more than 250 pedestrians have been injured in crashes.
Cumber says her mission is to bring those numbers down.
“[I want to] remind people to slow down when you’re in the neighborhoods,” she said. “Watch for kids because a lot of this I think is just talking to your neighbors and really all of us watching out for everyone.”
Both Cumber and Driskell believe it is a good idea to add more visibility to crosswalks and bike lanes to make them stand out, especially for drivers.
That may include painting them green — or similar color — and adding flashing lights to catch people’s attention.
Driskell encourages pedestrians to have reflective materials to enhance visibility. That may comprise of materials on bikes, backpacks and even clothing.
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