Jacksonville, FL – often described as beautiful and filled with vast opportunities - has unfortunately another title. Recently, the city was named the fourth highest on the “Pedestrian Danger Index” released by Dangerous by Design.
This is a scary and horrible truth for those that bike, walk or run! Too often the news is filled with stories of those injured or killed in a pedestrian related accident! Additionally, those most affected are those in older and less affluent communities or those that are forced to walk to school if they live within two miles.
Jacksonville has not taken this news lying down! The American Heart Association (AHA) has been working on a local campaign called Complete Streets – and all hands are on deck to demand change! AHA is working to change the plans for Jacksonville and approach the mobility plan to be more equitable.
AHA plans to accomplish this with the support of the community and its community partners. AHA worked with community members and schools to get the message out - we all need to be walking, biking and running – but in a safe way!
Jax streets need to be ‘complete!’ With collaborations with THE PLAYERS Center for Child Health, Wolfsons Children’s Hospital, Safe Kids of NorthEast Florida, Duval County Public Schools, Safe Routes to School, Jacksonville Jaguars, Department of Health Duval, Duval County PTA Council, University of North Florida, Jacksonville Sherriff’s Office, Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department and many others, I have managed to create a buzz and get the message heard. I have worked with these groups to work on events such as Bike to School Day and Safe Kids Day. These events alone have reached more than 1,500 children and families in Duval County in just under five months!
Additionally, the Jacksonville Complete Streets campaign has attended numerous health fair events, tabled at several events, given many presentations, provided media exposure and engaged a large social media campaign. The campaign has developed an electronic petition, action landing page and call to action emails to the community!
Volunteers across the county are eager to assist, as well as are parents, principals, teachers and community partners who are highly engaged. Jax is on its way to more Complete Streets!
April Seliga is the American Heart Association's Jacksonville Complete Streets Coordinator. If you'd like to engage in the Jacksonville Complete Streets campaign, reach out to April at [email protected].