Although May 31 marks the end of National Bike Safety Month, data compiled about bicycle accidents in the U.S. suggests that bike safety should remain at the forefront for residents of Florida.
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that Florida leads the nation in bicycle deaths. According to the NHTSA, 16% of the 783 bicyclists killed in the U.S. in 2017 were in Florida. Okeechobee had two high-profile bicycle accidents last year, a each having a different cause. An 18-year old bicyclist was fatally struck when crossing State Road 70 back in January 2018, while Okeechobee’s “man on the bridge” suffered fractures after falling from his bike in October 2018 after the weld holding the front wheel failed.
According to the NHTSA, the most commonly reported factors leading to bicycle fatalities were failure to yield the right of way, not being visible (dark clothing, no lighting, etc.), failure to obey traffic signs, signals, or an officer and making an improper turn.
In a recent survey of Florida cyclists conducted by The American Automobile Association (AAA), 36% say they do not wear a helmet while riding a bicycle, 56% ride with traffic while 21% ride against traffic, and 74% of those who ride against traffic do so because they prefer to see approaching vehicles.
“Motorists and cyclists play an equal part in sharing the road,” said AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins. “While motorists need to eliminate distractions and watch for people on bikes, cyclists can do their part by wearing a helmet and brightly colored clothing. Bicyclists who do not go with the flow of traffic are putting their lives in danger. Although it may be more comforting for a cyclist to see approaching motorists, this creates scenarios where drivers may not see them. That’s because drivers do not always check for wrong-way traffic before entering an intersection.”
AAA recommends cyclists keep the following tips in mind to remain safe:
• Ride on the roadway or shared pathways, rather than on sidewalks.
• Follow the same rules of the road as other roadway users, including riding in the same direction as traffic and following all the same traffic signs and signals.