Bridging the gap of pedestrian safety
With each new snowbird and tourist arriving in Southwest Florida, the solutions to our transportation woes seem increasingly distant. But an increased emphasis on walkability and innovative engineering could bring us a lot closer to where we want to be, literally and
Civil + Structural Engineer magazine recently featured three revolutionary pedestrian bridge projects renowned for their aesthetics, functionality and engineering marvel. The Denver International Airport Passenger Bridge links two buildings that were never intended to be connected with a 365-foot span large enough and high enough for two planes to pass side-by-side underneath. The Idaho Avenue Pedestrian Overcrossing in Santa Monica, California, spirals down the cliffs of Palisades Park to the Pacific Ocean, offering magnificent views. The Grand Avenue Park Pedestrian Bridge, still under construction, will satisfy a decades-long desire for a walkway between the park and a developing waterfront district that features the largest public marina on the West Coast.
Walkability is a key component within the multi-modal transportation plans that are a hallmark of sustainable communities. We prioritized walkability in our Lehigh Acres Planning and Design Study and the Gardner’s Park Redevelopment Plan for an area near downtown Fort Myers. Unfortunately, the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area is perhaps the most dangerous place in the U.S. for pedestrians. All it takes to understand why is a trip along Estero Boulevard at the foot of the Matanzas Pass Bridge in Fort Myers Beach, where pedestrians, cars and bicycles consistently intermingle haphazardly. Beyond the obvious safety concerns, there is gridlock that takes place
as cars stop to wait for slower pedestrian traffic to cross.
It’s a problem that has vexed Southwest Florida for decades, but one pedestrian bridge in the works and another in the proposal stage may finally bring relief. Projects taking place across the country, and the world, prove it’s possible to overcome daunting challenges to create secure, efficient multi-modal transportation that is as pedestrian-friendly as it is car-friendly.