March Was Bike Safety Month In Florida
Though bicyclists and pedestrians represent just 2 percent of commuters in Palm Beach County, they made up a whopping 30 percent of all transportation-related fatalities on county roadways from 2018-2020, according to the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency. Here’s what you need to know to help raise awareness of bicycle safety in the Sunshine State:
- Deaths among Florida bicyclists age 20 and older have tripled since 1975, according to the National Highway Traffic Administration.
- In all, the latest figures show 783 cyclists were involved in fatal accidents in the U.S. in 2017 – 125 of whom, or 16 percent, were based in the Sunshine State. This makes Florida the highest for bicycle deaths in the US.
- In Palm Beach County, 11 bicyclists died in 2020, more than double the number of bicycle fatalities recorded in 2019, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles [flhsmv.gov]. Pedestrian fatalities also rose last year, with 41 deaths compared to 40 in 2019.
- Weinroth is endorsing two legislative measures that would offer more protection for bicyclists and pedestrians: A bill sponsored by Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation) and a companion bill sponsored by State Rep. Christine Hunschofsky (D-Parkland) would require motorists sharing the same travel lane as bicyclists and pedestrians to exercise care when passing. If there’s no room to pass, motorists would be required to remain behind bicyclists and pedestrians until it’s safe to do so.
- If the bills become law in July, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will be required to provide a public awareness campaign informing motorists about the required safety precautions. The department also would be required to include the precautions in driver’s license educational materials and to ensure that 20 percent of the questions for the Class E drivers’ test are related to bicycle and pedestrian safety.
- The increases in fatalities in 2020 is probably part of a national trend related to the COVID-19 pandemic, even though vehicular traffic was down earlier in the year as people stayed home, TPA staff said.
- The reduction in congestion on roadways may have prompted motorists to drive faster, exacerbating risky driving behaviors, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics suggest.
Safety tips for riders:
- Wear protective gear like a properly fitting helmet, fitted clothing, and shoes with a good grip
- Check your bicycle for any malfunctions before riding
- Make sure you are always visible with bright colors during the day and lights at night
- Always ride your bike safely
- Be aware of dangerous road conditions
- Obey all traffic laws
- Ride with the flow, on the right hand side, of traffic
- Yield to traffic when appropriate
- Signal your intent and be predictable
- Do not ride distract, stay alert and focused
- Look twice before turning or crossing an intersection
- Be careful around parked cars
Safety tips for drivers:
- Stay aware and actively look for cyclists
- Know that cyclists have the same rights on the roads as you do
- Be patient around cyclists even if they are moving slower than traffic
- Be predictable and communicate your intentions with cyclists
- Do not pass a cyclist until you are sure that your passing lane is clear
- Look out for cyclists when turning and at intersections
- Give cyclists plenty of space, never tailgate a bicycle rider
- After parking near a bicycle lane, watch for cyclists before you open your door
- Always yield the right of way to a cyclist