ORLANDO, Fla. — Some call it a traffic nightmare. Others say it’s making things safer for cyclists and pedestrians.
- Project cut stretch of Curry Ford Road to 2 lanes
- City of Orlando added bike lanes
- Response has been very negative
Orlando launched an experimental, 4-week-long-project, taking a small stretch of Curry Ford Road -- between Bumby and Crystal Lake -- from four lanes down to two.
“First it was the initial shock," said Sede Saunders. “Around the 4 o’clock, 5 o’clock hour, it gets kind of backed up.”
But, once Saunders, an arts program director at Dramatic Education, Inc., saw what the traffic squeeze along Curry Ford in front of her work was doing, she was all about it.
“We allow students to come here and explore the arts, so that would be a great opportunity for them to safely get here," she said.
But, not everyone shares the same positive view of the project.
“I don’t like it, the reason for it’s more traffic," said Rick Nguyen. “Neighbors have talked about it and I’d say over 90 percent really don’t like it.”
“Cutting it down to one lane each side doesn’t make any sense, really," said David Stewart. “It’s harder to turn out of these businesses. I’ve noticed a couple of cars driving through the bike lane.”
Others took their frustrations online, tweeting the project was "dumb" and resulted in an extra hour-long ride home.
To that, Mayor Buddy Dyer replied that he appreciates the feedback on the project.
“Phone calls are mostly negative. The emails, I would say about 40 percent positive," said Christopher Cairns, Orlando's Division Manager for Transportation and Engineering. “There are people saying the delays are unreasonable and people are driving crazy.”
But Cairns stressed patience as the city gathers data on traffic speeds and adjusts traffic signal timing. The bike lanes will be cycled out by early May, as the city compiles data.
“Know that the whole intent of it is to improve safety, that’s our goal," he said.
Last summer, Orlando applied for a grant to launch the $75,000 project, one of three cities in the country to be awarded.
Crews put the finishing touches on bike lanes along Curry Ford on Thursday, painting and smoothing the green and white signage.
“We were trying to bring down speeds and one of the ways to do that is to reduce the number of travel lanes," he explained.
It's a tool, Cairns said, that has been successfully employed elsewhere, like in College Park, where crews took Edgewater Drive's five lanes down to three, reducing crashes by 40 percent and boosting business.
“I think it’s a safe and convenient way for people who live in the neighborhood to get to our site, get to the yoga studio," said Saunders, noting that with a new K-8 school opening down the street, some students will likely be walking or biking to their nearby program. “We all need to take a moment to slow down, gives you an opportunity to look around.”
Orlando will hold a bicycle and pedestrian safety fair Saturday in the Winn Dixie parking lot, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.