FDOT partners with UF for pedestrian safety

UF Police Department and members of the FDOT getting a picture with UF students.
UF Police Department and members of the FDOT getting a picture with UF students. (Photo by Taryn Ashby)
UF students returned for classes and increased foot traffic along University Avenue.
Photo by Taryn Ashby UF students returned for classes and increased foot traffic along University Avenue.

As UF students walk, bike and scooter to their classes on the first day of the semester, conversations about traffic safety seem necessary.  

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and UF join forces for the first week of school to address and educate the community on pedestrian and driver behavior.  

FDOT installed safety improvements to University Avenue last year, including constructing new traffic signals, speed tables, and crosswalks at intersections.  

The intention behind the traffic installments is to slow down traffic. Changes to signal timings make for safer pedestrian crossings.  

“I think the new traffic improvements are working really well, as long as we can make our students aware of what they need to do,” said FDOT District 2 Director of Operations Travis Humphries.  

UF President Kent Fuchs talks with UF media and content specialist Cynthia Roldán Hernández.
Photo by Taryn Ashby UF President Kent Fuchs talks with UF media and content specialist Cynthia Roldán Hernández.

Two more construction projects are underway on University Avenue. FDOT plans on installing traffic lights at the intersections at 16th Avenue and University, and 19th Avenue and University.  

“Right now, the speed tables are temporary. We are going to add some raised crosswalks in some areas,” said Humphries.  

UF President Kent Fuchs is excited about the partnership with FDOT and the help from the Gainesville Police Department and the University Police Department.  

“It is a wonderful partnership to enhance safety for pedestrians, those driving cars, bicycles, and scooters,” said Fuchs. 

He stressed the importance of former and ongoing construction on the main road. Even with the speed limits around campus being 25 miles per hour, it can still be dangerous.  

A UF Police Department officer registers a student's bike.
A UF Police Department officer registers a student’s bike.

In recent years, pedestrians have either lost their lives or been injured along the busy street.  
 
UF students Maggie Paxton and Sophia Lambert were struck by vehicles and died in December 2020 and January 2021, respectively.  

Another pedestrian was injured in July 2021 along with two other UF students getting hit late in 2021. And an RTS bus hit and killed a pedestrian in March.   

“The death of any member of our community, no matter who they are, is tragic,” said Fuchs. “I go every year to memorial services for students who have passed away for various reasons, and it’s heart wrenching.”  

Fuchs believes a vital part of administering traffic education is to help avoid as many accidents as possible and keep safety the number one priority.   

UF Police Department and FDOT members grab a group picture with a new police puppy in training.
Photo by Taryn Ashby UF Police Department and FDOT members grab a group picture with a new police puppy in training.
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