Safe Streets Academy kicks off with our first workshop in Orlando

This November, participants from Lexington, KY; South Bend, IN; and Orlando, FL convened in Orlando for the inaugural workshop of the Safe Streets Academy, a brand new technical assistance program funded by a Safe System Innovation Grant from the Road to Zero Coalition. We spent two days laying the foundation for the Academy and conducting case studies and exercises on innovative strategies to improve safety through engineering countermeasures.

When we first selected these three jurisdictions back in August, we wanted to choose places who stood to learn a lot from one another. In some ways, these three cities face similar obstacles, and in other ways, each of them faces challenges complimented by the others’ strengths and successes. At our first workshop, we saw this process of sharing strategies and experiences begin to unfold. Whether it was discussing how to win the support of decision-makers for experimental pilot projects, how to apply new technologies to community engagement, or how to balance the needs of parking and deliveries with a streetscape friendly to walking, the teams from Orlando, Lexington, and South Bend were eager to share their lessons learned to the benefit of all.


In one of our first exercises, each of the teams mapped out their city’s project development process. Across our three jurisdictions, these processes ranged from stringent sequences of approvals and reviews to informal, case-by-case decisions. Contrasting the different approaches in each city highlighted opportunities to do things differently and build Complete Streets and safety into decision-making moving forward.




“The Safe Streets Academy has become an effective vehicle for change with my organization. The participation of various agencies & disciplines working together to effectuate change is the most helpful – it aligns each of our organizations.”

-Participant feedback



As part of the Safe Streets Academy, each of the three teams will carry out a demonstration project where they will work with community members, business owners, elected officials, and other local partners to test out creative new ways to improve safety on one of their most dangerous corridors. We spent much of the first day discussing the tools they’ll need to achieve this, including creative placemaking and proven safety countermeasures.




On day two of the workshop, we dove into a case study on the corridor where the Orlando team will carry out their demonstration project. After an introductory presentation on the corridor’s history, context, and greatest challenges, we hit the ground running with a site visit to observe the corridor for ourselves and get a sense of the safety issues it faces.






We pushed the workshop participants to think critically about how to use their new tools and strategies to transform this corridor and make it a safer place for people walking. What changes need to happen on the ground to slow driving speeds and create a more comfortable environment for all people who use the road? What processes and policies could Orlando change to make that transformation possible? How can the city engage the local community and business owners in reinventing and improving the safety of this corridor? Participants worked with their counterparts from the other two cities to answer these questions and discuss how to apply these concepts to their own demonstration projects back home.




“I have been trying to implement our ‘demonstration project’ for years, and it’s going to happen because of the many advocates now sitting at the table today”

-Participant feedback




We’re excited to see these three demonstration projects unfold over the course of the Safe Streets Academy. Over the next few months, as they lay the groundwork for implementing their projects, we’ll also continue working with these cities to further develop new skills through a series of distance learning modules. We can’t wait to see you all again at our next workshop in February in Lexington. Until next time!



Want to work toward creating safer streets in your own community?

Join the Road to Zero Coalition


Road to Zero is a coalition of almost 500 members committed to reducing traffic fatalities in the United States to zero over the next three decades. The coalition holds quarterly meetings to discuss innovative research and strategies and offers tools, resources, and grants to support safer streets nationwide.

Complete Streets