Law Enforcement Case Study: Port Orange, Florida
Safety Enforcement and Encouragement Program
The City of Port Orange has a population of approximately 50,000, is 25 square miles in area and contains 11 schools. In late 2007, school staff identified an increase in unsafe bicycle and pedestrian travel behavior among elementary school students walking and biking to school. Examples of unsafe behavior observed by school staff included: not wearing a bicycle helmet, bicycling on the wrong side of the road, not crossing in designated crosswalks and not looking before crossing the street.
The Port Orange Police Department's five-person Traffic Unit is responsible for ensuring safety in school zones and handling all traffic violations within these zones. Officers are in direct contact with each school's principal to coordinate action and communication on any traffic-related issue. The unit also has a strong link to the school district's Safe Routes to School Coordinator and works to actively support walking and biking to school.
To improve students' bicycle and pedestrian travel behavior, the Traffic Unit decided to target the elementary schools with a positive reward campaign. During a one-week period in December 2007, the Traffic Unit handed out "Free Kid-size Smoothie" coupons, donated by a local business, to children as a reward for good bicycle or pedestrian safety behavior, demonstrated during their walk or bike to/from school.
The positive reward campaign preceded the winter break and when students returned to school in January 2008 school staff continued to see a large number of safety infractions among students who were walking and bicycling to school. Moreover, two crashes were reported between bicyclists and motorists, with the students at fault for not following appropriate bicycle safety practices.
To address the ongoing problem a follow-up warning/enforcement campaign was undertaken.The Traffic Unit staged a two-week warning campaign focused on bicycle safety in late January and early February 2008. During these two weeks, officers issued verbal warnings to students for bicycle and helmet law violations and distributed copies of a flyer outlining Florida's bicycle helmet statute law for students to take home and share with their parents. The Traffic Unit was concerned that bicycle safety in particular, was not being reinforced by parents simply because they were not aware of Florida's bicycle helmet statute, which requires all children under the age of 16 to wear a bicycle helmet when riding. During the two-week warning campaign, free helmets were distributed to students who could not afford to purchase helmets.
During the one-week, positive reward campaign, the Traffic Unit handed out 250 smoothie coupons for good behavior. During the two-week bicycle safety warning campaign 100 verbal warnings were issued and ten bicycle helmets were given away to students on a need basis. As a result of this campaign, the police department is working to secure an additional 200 bicycle helmets from the Epilepsy Foundation for free distribution to students.
Sgt. Christopher Besuden
Traffic/ Marine Unit Supervisor
Port Orange Police Department
1395 Dunlawton Ave.
Port Orange, FL 32129