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Why Is Cycling so Dangerous in Florida?

And How You Can Keep Yourself Safe //

According to Bicycling.com, “Florida has the highest per-capita rate of cycling deaths in the country, three times the national average.” In 2017, a total of 783 bicyclists lost their lives nationwide, and 125 of those deaths occurred in Florida.

While bicyclists face a higher risk of crash-related injuries and death, both cyclists and drivers have a responsibility to keep one another safe. Additionally, bike-friendly culture and infrastructure (i.e. bike lanes) can make all the difference.

As policy change and engineering gradually make Florida’s roads safer for cyclists, education remains a priority.

Below are some of the state’s recommendations to keep bicyclists safe – no matter how you travel.

For Motorists

In 2006, Florida enacted a 3-foot passing law. This means drivers must give bicyclists a minimum of 3 feet of clearance when driving alongside or passing them.

Other bicycle safety tips for motorists include:

  • Yielding to bicyclists in turn lanes and making turns behind cyclists
  • Avoiding using high beam headlights around bicyclists
  • Checking for bicyclists before opening car doors

Paying extra attention and being extra careful on the roads can save lives. Florida is a popular state for bicyclists and motorcyclists alike, so drivers who double-check their blind spots before turns and lane changes are less likely to cause an accident.

For Bicyclists

Bicyclists suffer the consequences of bicycle accidents, regardless of who is at fault. This is why its so important to remember bicycle safety tips. Parents should also share these safety tips with their children.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles recommends:

  • Making sure that your bicycle is in good working order (checking brakes, gears, tires, etc. before heading out)
  • Wearing a properly fitted helmet with a securely fashioned strap (all bicycle riders and passengers under age 16 are required to wear a helmet by Florida Law)
  • Wearing neon, fluorescent, or bright colors when riding, along with reflective shoes or tape.
  • Wearing appropriate shoes (i.e. sneakers, not flip flops or riding barefoot)
  • Using bike lanes whenever possible
  • Riding in the same direction as traffic and staying as far to the right as possible.
  • Avoiding distractions (like cell phones and headphones)
  • Obeying all traffic laws, signs, signals, and lane markings
  • Following pedestrian crossing guidelines when crossing roadways (esp. at or near crosswalks)
  • Crossing at intersections (never pull out into the roadway from behind parked cars)

Florida Law also requires bicyclists riding at night to use a headlight lamp (with a white light visible for 600 feet) and taillight lamp and reflector (visible for 600 feet). Bicyclists should never attach themselves or their bikes to any other vehicle on the roadway, nor should they text and ride.

Resources like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Safety Council (NSC) also have valuable advice about planning your route and driving defensively.

You may be unable to avoid every accident on the road but being cautious can help reduce your risks of a collision.

If you are injured in a bicycle accident that is not your fault, you may be entitled to compensation.

Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC can help you understand your rights and legal options after any bicycle crash. Simply call Lauri at (866) 675-4427 or contact our firm online. We are available 24/7 to discuss your case during a free, confidential consultation.

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