The passing of the Alert Today Florida Safety Baton is emblematic of everyone across the state coming together with the common goal of improving the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists. The baton is a “communication tool” that functions to showcase the many agencies, partners, and stakeholders that have committed to improve safety and public health by protecting pedestrians and bicyclists on Florida roads.
The passing of the baton started on February 19, 2017 when NASCAR driver Scott Lagasse Jr. led the 3rd Annual Champions Ride for Bicycle Safety in Daytona. In a follow up interview, Lagasse said “I had the pleasure of riding with some “hotshots” on bikes again this year. NASCAR drivers, professional athletes and other pretty important people came out. They invested their time because they want to make a difference.”
With the ultimate goal of saving lives, the baton was then passed along to Ashley Strauss. Strauss took the baton to Orlando where she ran a half marathon on February 26, 2017 and wore the number 632—the number of pedestrians who died in traffic crashes in 2015—with the message “she runs for those who can’t.”
On March 1, the baton was handed off to Becky Afonso, Executive Director of the Florida Bicycle Association to promote Florida Bicycle Month. Afonso, a cyclist and safety advocate herself, truly gave the baton a work out. With baton in hand, she met with various agencies and stakeholder groups participating in more than eighteen events across the state. She also took the baton to Washington, D.C. where she attended the League of American Bicyclist’s National Bike Summit. “Carrying the baton as a symbol of safety is catching on,” Afonso says. “People working to promote bicycle and pedestrian safety are thrilled to have their photo taken with it. My time with the baton, and all that it represents, has been both educational and fun.”
Afonso will pass the baton to Ernie Bradley with the Florida Department of Health and the safety message will continue its route around the state. With Active Transportation Week kicking off on April 9, 2017, Bradley will carry the baton to Tallahassee where it will have the opportunity to “Take a Trip on Transit” and be part of a local walkability assessment.