‘Walkability’ expert tells how to make Central Florida cities more pedestrian-friendly

Mark Fenton hopped up on a Denning Drive guardrail in Winter Park on Thursday and fired off a list of criticisms about the city’s “walkability.”

He didn’t like the noise of cars whooshing by in both directions – it intimidates pedestrians, he told the two dozen or so people assembled on the narrow sidewalk. There was plenty of space for drivers, but there was a sidewalk on only one side of the road. And then there was a problem with the fence separating pedestrians from motorists: There was no fence.

Fenton, an engineer, consultant and former host of the PBS television series “America’s Walking,” was doing a “walkability audit,” an inspection he has done in cities across the country to help local leaders identify potentially unsafe intersections or crosswalks. His guiding principle is that increasing walkability can make a community more active and healthy.

His visit Thursday kicked off the Healthy Central Florida initiative, a joint project of Florida Hospital and the Winter Park Health Foundation targeting Eatonville, Winter Park and Maitland.

The three neighboring Central Florida cities are part of a region that for two years has ranked as the nation’s most dangerous area for pedestrians, according to Transportation for America, which promotes alternative transit. Last year, 59 pedestrians were killed in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties.

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