The Palm Beach Metropolitan Planning Organization is pushing for more complete streets, ones that give equal footing to pedestrians, makes it easier to cross roads and walk to shops, bike to work and catch public transportation.
The implementation of complete street principles is listed as one of the organizations top goals along with the redevelopment of downtown areas.
Complete streets would help increase the number of people who choose to walk, bike or use public transportation to get around. This change could help decrease traffic congestion and motor vehicle accidents.
The organization is looking to increase buffered bike lines, which give cyclists more room between bike and vehicles lanes, to more than 100 miles by 2040. Currently, there are only eight miles of buffered lanes in Palm Beach County. It also wants to increase the number of extra-wide pathways that can be shared by cyclists and pedestrians from 25 miles to 125 miles by 2040.
Several cities in the county have already adopted the complete streets principles. In Delray Beach, Federal Highway was reduced from four lanes to three, the speed limit was lowered and sidewalks were widened. West Palm Beach adopted the principles in 2004, but its first project was not completed until 2011 when the number of vehicle lanes on Parker Avenue was decreased in order to make the road safer for pedestrians.
Other suggestions for making the streets safer include having traffic signals change more frequently for pedestrians, creating mid-block crossing and installing pedestrian safety zones.
Florida is considered one of the deadliest states for pedestrians. In July 2014, the city of Ft. Lauderdale actually implemented crosswalk flags on Las Olas Boulevard in an effort to decrease the number of accidents being reported.
The complete streets principles could be just what the county needs to keep pedestrians and bicyclists safe.
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