It’s a bright, sunny morning in Florida. You lace up your tennis shoes, pack your bag and make sure your bicycle’s tires are inflated. You put your bag on your back, jump on your bike and start the commute to work. Maybe you even give a friendly wave to the people you pass.
Your heart is pumping and your muscles are burning, but the quiet hum of the tires spinning is still relaxing. You stop at the newsstand near work to grab the morning paper and maybe a cup of coffee. You walk your bike the rest of the way to the office, park it and walk through the front doors. You freshen up, sit down at your desk and start your day.
You got to work safely. You believe that you will get home just as safely. You’ve done this dozens of times without incident.
The above scenario sounds great, doesn’t it? If you live in major cities around the United States, it may be more than just a scenario; it may be your every day life. But why can’t it be the same way in Florida? Most Floridians don’t commute to work on two wheels or even ride their bicycles for pleasure. The number one reason given is fear.
People who refuse to pedal to work or for recreation cite a number of reasons for their refusal to do so, but being afraid for their safety is one of the reasons given most frequently.
Florida is one of the most dangerous states in the nation when it comes to cyclist safety. It’s a surprising fact to discover, especially when it’s typically the big cities and their efforts to raise the rate of safe, two-wheel commuting within their borders. Despite these efforts, major cities in the state remain deadly for cyclists.
According to statistics, Miami and Jacksonville have the fewest miles of paved bike paths available to the public, high levels of obesity, very few if any protected bike lanes and, worst, the highest number of commuting fatalities. Of the two cities, Jacksonville ranks the highest in deaths.
Why Is Bicycling so Dangerous?
In many large cities, like those found in Florida, highways are the rule. People need to get from here to there and large geographical areas quite simply demand freeways. These roadways and others that allow for high speeds don’t make contribute to safety.
Even outlying neighborhoods can be dangerous. Because these are so far away from where the majority of people live, they are too difficult to reach for commuters. A lack of bike lanes is another reason cycling is so dangerous. When bicycle lanes are in place, basic safety laws are not typically enforced by law enforcement. It’s a fact that most large commuter cities have seen very few motorists cited for encroaching upon a cyclist’s safety.
Making Bicycling Safer
In some cities, making commuting by bicycle or riding for recreation as safe as possible has been a major concern. These cities have made a very real effort in helping to ensure that anyone who chooses to ride a bicycle can do so safely. Here are some of the best examples from the cities in America considered to be doing it right.
1. Salt Lake City
The city conducted research and located the most dangerous intersections for vehicle versus bicycle collisions. Those intersections were changed. Added were curb extensions, forward stop bars, a buffer zone between cars and bikes, and special lights to let riders know when to cross.
Portland has been a cyclist-safe city for what seems like ever, making what they have done with their transit system fall by the wayside in the public eye. The city should be applauded for making commuting more convenient. Buses are equipped with racks and trains have hooks…all with the intention of making commuting a viable option, even if it’s too dangerous to ride for miles and miles.
The city hosts “Open Streets” in which bicyclists and commuters alike can take to the roads without worry. Major thoroughways are closed to vehicles and kept open for pedestrians and bike riders.
4. San Frandisco
The city worked with businesses to raise money and support for green lanes. Virtually any location in the city can be accessed by bike thanks to 100 miles of trails and lanes.
As cities become more congested, it only makes sense to make cycling a safer alternative. Some cities are doing this in spades. Other cities are doing little to nothing. If you live in Florida, speak up for your right to bike safely through your city.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a bicycle accident in Fort Lauderdale, you may be entitled to compensation under current law. Reach out to our office today and schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation. Let us help you determine your best course of action. Call now for assistance.