“Welcome to bicycle life (and death) in Florida – the state where you can slam your car into an unexpecting, innocent bicyclist and get away with it without a ticket,…”
If you don't think cyclists belong on the road, then change the law. But there are significant issues that need to be addressed, both in legislation and, just as importantly, through updating our public infrastructure. My biggest takeaways (in my opinion), see Florida Phoenix online: Florida’s biking problem, by Mitch Perry -January 3, 2019
A great read, whether you agree or not. This article discusses the general state of the law through the experience of Alan Snel, a man whose frustration over the way Florida drivers endanger bicyclists led him to flee the state.
As he rode along Old Dixie Highway near Fort Pierce in 2017, a motorist hit Snel from behind, knocking him unconscious. He was later diagnosed with two broken vertebrae, a concussion (even though he was wearing a helmet) and a badly battered right leg.
His physical condition was exacerbated by the emotional pain he felt when he learned that the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Department didn’t even issue a traffic ticket to the motorist who hit him, he recalls in his recently published memoir, Long Road Back to Las Vegas.
“Welcome to bicycle life (and death) in Florida – the state where you can slam your car into an unexpecting, innocent bicyclist and get away with it without a ticket,” Snel writes.
This article discusses the following:
- Florida has by far the highest per-capita bicyclist death rate in the country, and according to federal statistics cited by the Wall Street Journal, the state’s recent 10-year cyclist fatality rate of 6.2 deaths per 100,000 residents is 59% higher than the rate in Louisiana, the state with the second-highest level.
- The worst region of the state for bicyclist deaths has been Tampa Bay. In fact, the Tampa-St. Petersburg region led the nation in 2016-2017, and three other Florida major metropolitan areas were right behind – with Jacksonville, Orlando and Miami taking the 2-4 slots, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- …state officials and advocates cite several factors at play: Florida is a warm weather state where people ride bicycles all year long; bicycles are the only form of transportation in many low-income areas; too many streets and intersections are poorly lit; and there are too many uneducated motorists and cyclists on the roadways.
- The five essential elements of bike safety: education, engineering, enforcement, evaluation and encouragement. – defined by the League of American Bicyclists
- More cities and counties in Florida are adopting protected bikeways – on-street lanes that are separated from motorized traffic by poles, curbs or other barriers. More common are “buffered” bike lanes, strategically marked to alert drivers to watch for cyclists. New state regulations now call for standard bike lanes to be wider – from four feet to seven feet.
- Since 2014, many major regions of Florida have embraced so-called “Complete Streets” policies. Complete Streets in mixed-use urban areas have narrower lanes, more street trees, bike lanes, sidewalks, crosswalks and other “traffic calming” measures.
- In a 2015 address, then-Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jim Boxold said the state’s transportation policies should be designed to ensure safety for all users.
- In 2011, the state developed a website called AlertTodayFlorida.com that provides information about safety measures.
- Snel lived and worked in Colorado as a reporter for The Denver Post in the mid-90s, where he saw a much different culture.:
“Out west, bicycling is seen as just another legitimate form of transportation, and it’s all part of the mix,” he says. “But in Florida, the majority of elected political leaders don’t understand that bicycling is just a slow-moving vehicle on the right of way. That’s all it is, and as a result we have motorists who – I think more than any other state that I’ve ever lived in – are engaging in just dangerous driving behavior.”