Florida has been named the most dangerous place to cycle with around 110 deaths due to bicycle accidents each year.
With so many cyclists losing their lives on the road, it’s become evident that cycling in Florida is not a safe way to get around. However, many citizens are left without a choice. Minors and members of the community without the ability to drive use cycling and walking as their primary form of transportation.
So why does Florida have such poor luck with cyclists on the roads and how can you ensure you’re safe on your bike? Follow along to learn seven reasons why cycling in Florida is such a risky activity and what to do to decrease your chance of an accident.
1. Multi-Lane Roads
All of the cities that reported a shockingly high rate of cycling accidents had a few things in common. The first of which is their rapid rate of growth over recent years.
With cities like Westin, Pembroke Pines, Key Biscayne, and Boca Raton seeing so much traffic being introduced to their existing roadways, there was no choice but to undergo construction and increase the number of locals these roads could accommodate.
Evidently, this led to a large number of multi-lane roads and high-speed areas to improve accessibility. While this was a welcomed change for drivers, the conditions of these roads became unfriendly for non-motorized transportation.
Cyclists were now forced to cross multiple lanes of traffic moving at speeds much faster than they could travel. This has resulted in several unsafe roadways and unrealistic speed limits for cyclists. However, the lack of alternative routes sees many cyclists forced to enter the risky roads at their own discretion.
2. Dangerous Intersections
Because most of the routes are made up of multi-lane roads, the intersections become a lot more confusing and dangerous. In fact, intersections, where drivers were performing a turn, were the most common places for bicycle accidents.
This is largely due to drivers being unaware of cyclists in their lane, or blind spots created with the chaos of the cross-traffic exchange.
Unfortunately, the speed at which mid-intersection accidents take place is often deadly to individuals who are on bicycles during the collision.
3. Wide Corners and Lack of Speed Bumps
While wide corners provide drivers with the opportunity to take a corner without significantly reducing their speed. While this may be appreciated for those commuters who are in a rush, the high-speed turns are detrimental to cyclists.
With automobiles rounding the corner quite quickly they don’t have a chance to react when a cyclist is spotted. This results in urgent honking that causes cyclists to panic and swerve or unannounced collisions.
The lack of speed bumps in these areas encourages unreasonable speed and results in more frequent incidents.
4. Drivers Running Stop Signs
Florida sees a shocking amount of drivers running stop signs on a regular basis. This law-breaking action could be due to poor visibility, or even overconfident locals who feel the stop is unnecessary.
Whatever the reason, drivers running stop signs has resulted in bicycle accident statistics for Florida.
If you are involved in a bicycle crash due to a driver running a stop sign the driver is accountable for negligent driving and assumes liability for the accident.
5. Florida Bicycle Helmet Law
The laws around helmets in Florida state that riders over the age of 16 are not required to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle.
This opens up the opportunity for adults to legally skip the protective gear that could save their life in the event of a bicycle accident. With around 36 percent of individuals riding without a helmet, the importance of the equipment has been overlooked.
Although wearing a helmet does not play a role in the prevention of accidents, there is evidence that suggests if cyclist’s heads had been better protected, they may not have experienced such serious injuries.
6. Lack of Sidewalks
The simple solution to avoiding multi-lane traffic and dangerous intersections could be riding on the sidewalk. Unfortunately, many busy roadways in Florida’s highest accident-prone cities don’t have this option available to cyclists.
In areas including Deerfield Beach and Hillsborough Beach individuals have no choice but to join the automobiles on the streets or use the limited bike lanes available.
Florida bicycle laws do encourage riders to stay off the roads by outlining that riders are free to use sidewalks as long as they provide pedestrians with the right of way. However, the main areas of concern seem to be where sidewalks are unavailable.
7. Riding Against Traffic
Many cyclists in Florida stated that they feel more comfortable riding against traffic for improved visibility. While this ensures that they can better observe the drivers that are closest to them, the practice is actually incredibly dangerous.
Drivers don’t anticipate a natural turn being interrupted by a rider working against traffic and tend to overlook them in their safety checks. When the operator of the vehicle doesn’t see anything in their mirror, they assume the path is clear. Because they aren’t crossing traffic for the natural turns, they don’t have the need to check for oncoming vehicles in the same lane.
How to Practice Safer Cycling in Florida
If you rely on a cycle for your transportation, there are a number of precautions you can practice to reduce the chance of a bicycle crash.
- Always wear a helmet
- Stay alert at intersections
- Ride on sidewalks where possible
- Ride single-file when with other cyclists
- Travel on the right side of the road
- Do not weave between vehicles
- Be aware of low-visibility areas
- Indicate all turns with hand signals
While safe riding will improve your chances of a problem-free trip, many times the driver is the party responsible for the bicycle crash. In the event of a crash, it’s important to seek legal help and ensure you aren’t held liable for a driver-influenced accident.
Now that you know the primary reasons why cycling in Florida is so dangerous, you can better determine if riding your bicycle to work is the best option for you. Whether you’re an avid rider for exercise or you have no alternative transportation, you can use these tips to improve your riding safety.
Have you already been involved in a bicycle accident and need some guidance on the next steps to take? Get in touch with us today to discover your options and take action with your legal rights.