Florida is a beautiful place, regarded for its fair weather all year long. From walking the beach to going for a swim, the limit to outdoor activities is endless. Since its invention in 1817, bicycle riding has been a part of American life. It has gotten more competitive over time thanks to adventure-takers and races. Still, millions of people take time out of their day to go for a ride on the bike. In Florida, this is particularly true. Florida’s C2C (Coast-to-Coast) trail is a cyclist’s dream. A wide trail that connects the east coast to the west coast, it spans nearly 220 miles and is open at all times. Along with the trail, the slight chill in the morning air gets bikers out of their homes in crowds. The gradual sunshine warms you as you wander through the shade of the palm trees. There’s a lot to love about riding bicycles in the Sunshine State, but there’s also quite a bit to be frightened of.
With the beauty, weather, and tranquility of Florida comes more bikers than any other state. The state’s population is massive, which adds to the issue of biking accidents, but cycling in Florida is something millions of people partake in. Crashes involving pedestrians are common; even more common though, are bicycle crashes. With more than 23 million people in the state, there are more drivers and cyclists sharing the road than most other states. Negligent drivers often ignore cyclists, no matter what the laws demand. Florida statutes say that bicycles are a legal vehicle that may be operated on the street. As a passenger vehicle driver, it’s your job to look out for cyclists. Bicycling is a way of life in Florida, there is no excuse to ignore the laws.
Bicycling accidents happen far too often in Florida. If you’ve been on the receiving end of a crash, you could be compensated for all ensuing damages. If a motorist has run into you, injuries usually occur. Don’t fight the battle alone; hire an experienced personal injury attorney from a Miami law firm. Make sure to select a Miami Law Firm who has an aggressive team of lawyers who can help you get your life back.
The most common forms of bicycle accidents are falls and crashes involving vehicles. You can imagine which has been the deadliest. In 2018, there were 857 bicyclists killed in traffic crashes. 125 of those fatal crashes occurred within the state of Florida. That is the most among any state in the nation. Here are some more statistics from the NHTSA:
The average age of bicyclists killed was 47 years old
Between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. is when most bicycle deaths occur
75% of cyclist fatalities occur in urban areas
Alcohol was involved in 37% (reported) of all fatalities
The statistics and concerns are apparent; in Florida, you cannot be safe enough. Bicyclists account for more than 2% of all fatalities in the United States. If you’re out on a sunny Florida evening, watch out for and be prepared to drive safely around bicyclists.
More often than not, bicycle accidents occur because of motor vehicle drivers’ inattention. In some cases, drivers purposefully ignore laws. There are dozens of causes of cycling accidents, some of which do not involve passenger vehicles whatsoever. Unfortunately, most accidents are due to the negligence and carelessness of drivers. Florida is an accessible place for bikers of all ages. The flat roads and long paths make children and elders able to ride as well. Always be aware when you’re on the road. Here are the three most common causes of cycling accidents in Florida.
Dooring is the easiest cause of accidents people can avoid. On thousands of roads throughout the state, there is parallel parking on either side. These spots are usually seen in downtown areas or small main streets where festivals happen. They usually don’t create issues, until there are bicyclists sharing the road. Remember, cyclists are allowed to use the road just like cars are. When drivers open their doors to get out of these parallel spots, they often don’t check for bikers. This results in bicyclists slamming into the doors of cars and causing themselves serious injuries.
Cyclists usually have great reaction times since they are traveling at slower speeds, but without notice, they could run into doors going 20 mph or more.
Driving around cyclists is an easy thing to do, but sometimes vehicles get too close. This is referred to as “buzzing”. When you’re on a small two-lane road with no sidewalk, buzzing can be tough to avoid. However, many drivers crowd bicyclists because they feel as though they do not “belong'' on the road. Getting too close to a bicycle can create one of two scenarios. One, you can get close and make a cyclist veer off the road and contact something else. That will result in a fall that could cause severe injury. Second, you can get too close and rub a cyclist. This will create injuries far worse than any other type of accident. Bikers have little to no protection; purposely buzzing them with a 2-ton vehicle will cause terrible damage.
- The Right Hook
The “right hook” is far too common when it comes to bicycle fatalities. The way cyclists get hit in these situations creates extensive injuries. A right hook occurs when a biker is in front of a cross-street and the driver does not see it. They make a right-turn and clip the bicycle because they were too careless to look. It can also occur when a cyclist is riding next to a car going the same direction. The biker wants to go straight through an intersection, but the car is going right. Without looking for pedestrians, the vehicle takes its right turn and hits the biker. Both are all too familiar scenes for bikers.
Share the Road
Florida is a stomping ground for outdoor activities. Though we often get rain, our constant steady temperatures allow people to be outside year-round. Bicyclists, along with pedestrians, are among the most likely to be involved in fatalities. They are just as vulnerable as walkers but travel at much higher speeds. It’s a dangerous combination that people need to be aware of, specifically in Florida.
As a driver, you should always remember that you share the road with cyclists. They may slow you down at times, but it is safer for everyone. Always drive defensively and have bikers in mind. If you can notice something that may happen before it does, you could contribute to the decrease in bicyclist deaths.
Having graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine Engineering from Massachusetts Maritime Academy, acquired three U.S. Coast Guard licenses and worked on offshore oil drilling platforms for more than seven years, Keith S. Brais brings an uncommon degree of real world experience to clients’ personal injury and wrongful death claims. His unique maritime education and experience, combined with his professional legal expertise and trial skills provide invaluable benefit to clients when describing the dangers associated with maritime employment to a judge or jury. Keith S. Brais is one of a very specialized group of lawyers in the State of Florida that is Board Certified in Maritime and Admiralty Law by the Florida Bar. Additionally, Keith S. Brais holds an “AV” rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, the highest rating attainable.
Keith S. Brais, https://www.braislaw.com