A $5 million plan to add mid-block crosswalks and other improvements to pedestrian and bicycle safety in the major roads serving the University of Central Florida was unanimously approved Tuesday by the Orange County Board of Commissioners.

The plan aims at making sidewalks, bike paths and crosswalks more appealing and safer for the 50,000 UCF students and thousands of employees who may cross back and forth from the campus to the neighborhoods, apartment complexes and business areas surrounding the entrances.

UCF and Orange County have a long and increasingly difficult problem with the university foot traffic near the campus mixing with the heavy, fast-moving traffic on two major roads, Alafaya Trail, which runs north-south along the campus’s western edge, and University Boulevard, which runs east-west and becomes the primary entrance to campus when it crosses Alafaya.

Accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians and bicycles are common, a couple a month. Fatal accidents are not unusual, occurring almost once a year on average.

With this plan,  in the works for nearly two years, UCF and Orange County hope to reduce the pressures as much as practical, though little in the plans address attempts to reduce the speeds or volume of the vehicle traffic, except through some tweaks. Intersections will have tightened turning radii, so that drivers can’t just barrel through without looking. Some traffic calming techniques like median landscaping, which tend to make drivers feel more crowded and therefore drive more cautiously, will be pursued.

The university and county came together in a task force that produced the plans, and a development agreement in which they will partner in putting in the improvements. The commission adopted both the plan and at the agreement.

“I think the study really went to the heart of the matter and suggested some common-sense solutions,” UCF President John Hitt said afterwards.

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