Florida leads the nation in fatal bicycle accidents, according to the most recent statistics by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Our Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers frequently report about the dangers that cyclists face when traveling on roadways in South Florida. A solution needs to be found in order to keep bicycle accidents in West Palm Beach and elsewhere from occurring so frequently.
One possible solution, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, is to create separate bike-only lanes. A recent study showed that cyclists utilizing separate bike-only paths, away from the flow of traffic, have fewer accidents than bikers riding right next to motor vehicles on roadways.
In fact, the injury rate was 28% lower when comparing the two scenarios. It is not suggested that there is no risk of injury since one key element is making sure the bike tracks have well-designed intersections with green and red signals that determine which traffic has the right to proceed.
In 2009, the NHTSA reported a total of 630 cyclist fatalities in the United States. This equated to about 2% of all traffic fatalities for the year. There were another 51,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes for that year. In 2009, 70% of bicyclist fatalities happened in urban areas, 67% occurred at non-intersections, and 72% of fatal bicycle accidents occurred from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. It was reported that 87% of cyclist fatalities were male in 2009.
Florida averaged approximately 2 cyclist deaths per week in 2009, reporting a total of 107 fatalities for the year. This equated to approximately 4.2% of all traffic fatalities in the state. The fatality rate per million population in Florida was 5.77 which was second in the nation only to Delaware whose population is 2.5 times less than Florida.
Based on the statistics, American cyclists have reason to fear riding alongside traffic on roadways. Cyclist fatalities are often adult males because women, children, and senior citizens are too afraid. Other countries have established separate bike lanes removed from traffic lanes, unlike the U.S. where a painted stripe on pavement indicates where a biker is supposed to ride next to motor vehicles.
For instance, the Netherlands has about 18,000 miles of separate bike tracks established compared to the U.S. which only has about 20 miles of similar bike-only paths in the entire nation.
Many cyclists use their bike as a mode of transportation to get to and from work. In a time when gas prices are skyrocketing, I think more Americans would choose to bicycle rather than drive their motor vehicle if they felt it was safe to do so. The recent study indicated, when given the choice, bikers were 2.5 times more likely to use a separate bike only path than to ride alongside motor vehicles in traffic.
We are still a long way away from implementing separate bike-only paths for cyclists to use. Motorists must respect a rider’s rights to the road.
Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez are experienced attorneys who fight aggressively for victims in personal injury cases. If you have suffered injury in a cycling accident in Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Margate, Miami or Port St. Lucie, call 1-800-529-2368 for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights.