Florida consistently leads the country in the number of auto accidents, but we’ve also earned the top spot in another unfortunate area: bicycle accidents.
The CDC has published a report stating that Florida’s rate for bicycling deaths is the highest in the country: .57 per 100,000 people. To put that in perspective, the national rate is .23 per 100,000 people – less than half our rate!
Biking is becoming a more popular way to get around, which has led most states to make bicycle safety a top priority. These states have seen a steep decline in the rate of bicycle accidents. But not Florida. Our numbers have gone down by less than 10%.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t follow the rest of the country’s lead. We can get control of the bicycle deaths our state. We just have to learn how.
Show support for bike lanes and legislation. One of the most effective ways to reduce bicycle accidents is adding wide and appropriately placed bike lanes on major roads. As a constituent of Florida, call your local representative and ask what is being done to help Florida’s roads become more bike-friendly.
One word: yield. Bikers don’t always have the most respected reputation on the road. Since cars do greatly outnumber bicycles, drivers commonly don’t give too much thought to the potential for cyclists or motorists to be riding close by.
Unfortunately, this kind of attitude results in a lot of accidents. Motorists who fail to yield cause the highest number of bike crashes in the state of Florida. Pay careful attention at intersections too – urban areas and multiple-lane intersections see the highest amount of bike crashes and fatalities.
Share the road. Watch out for drivers when biking on a narrow road where passing is difficult. Frustrated drivers can act in aggressive and even unlawful ways. When passing a bicycle, drivers must maintain a distance of 36 inches (3 feet).
A note for pedestrians: Lanes on the roadway that are marked Bike Lane are to be used exclusively by cyclists. If you are running or walking in a bike lane and get injured by a cyclist, you may be found to be at fault.
Take responsibility as a cyclist. Motorists need to proceed with caution when driving around cyclist, but that does not mean bikers don’t have responsibilities as well. The following tips are for bikers who want to ride safely with drivers on the road:
- Wear your helmet.
- Attach lights to your bike and wear bright clothing.
- Use the proper turn signals to let cars behind you know that you are about to turn.
- Keep an ear open for traffic – it is not legal (or smart) to wear headphones while riding a bicycle.
The continued cooperation and awareness of drivers, bikers, and pedestrians is the most important factor in reducing bike accidents. Unfortunately, accidents may still happen on the road. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident and need to file a personal injury lawsuit to cover your costs, contact Neufeld, Kleinberg & Pinkiert, PA today: 800-379-TEAM (8326)