Biking for Florida adult residents continues to increase as a major outside activity. It is becoming the primary mode of transportation for many Floridians. As a Florida resident, it is easy to hit the road on a bike. Florida has vast amounts of biking trails and year-round biking weather. Even public transportation buses are usually equipped with bike racks, and many businesses have installed racks for both customers and employees. These conveniences, along with the health benefit biking provides, tempt riders to hop on a bike no matter where they are going.
Unfortunately, with our already crowded roadways and more cyclists engaging in daily travel with a bike, it increases the likelihood of accidents and deaths. A recent study ranked Florida the top spot for dangerous places to bike. From data collected in 2015, Florida led the nation in bicyclist fatalities with 150. California was the next highest at 129. For Florida, this was an increase of 21 deaths from the previous year. Bicycle deaths are increasing nationally too. There were 818 bicycling deaths counted in the study, which was a 12 percent increase from the previous year.
The study also showed that nationally:
- 85% of bicyclist fatalities were male with an average age of 45
- 53% of the crashes between bicyclists and cars happened during the hours of 6pm to 6am
- 72% occurred in locations other than intersections
- 37% of the time alcohol was a factor from either the driver or bicyclist
- Many of the incidents happened when the motorist didn’t see the bicyclist—usually the bicyclist assumes the driver can see them and expects them to react
The most common reasons cited for motorists crashing into bicyclists range from they were driving distracted to they just didn’t see the bicyclist. Drivers should know bicyclists on the road have just as much right to be there as a car does. People on a bike, just like drivers in a car, should obey all traffic laws.
There is a misconception that snowbirds who overtake Florida roads in the winter months are the ones getting in accidents with bikers. However, it was drivers between the ages of 20 to 24 who accounted for the highest percentage of crashes.
The report isn’t all bad news for Florida bicyclists. It cites that many communities throughout the state are recognizing these statistics and are working to bring the numbers down. Many cities have begun initiatives to accommodate bikers such as redesigning roads, providing bicycle safety tips and educating drivers on sharing the road with bikers.