Florida Cyclist, Pedestrian Problem Reflected Throughout the South

It’s been well-established that Florida is the most dangerous state in the country for bicyclists. Where Floridians account for six percent of the nation’s population, about 1 in 5 bicyclist deaths occur here. bicyclist2.jpg

What a recent report in The Atlantic reveals is that similar trends are reflected throughout the Southern U.S., a combination of a growing number of cyclists, poor infrastructure design and a lack of dollars dedicated to addressing the issue.

Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident attorneys know that pending the initiation of “Complete Streets” projects (which may soon become mandatory for federally-funded projects if Congress passes S. 2004), bicyclists are endangered nearly every time they venture out for a ride in Florida. Absent those risks, Florida would otherwise be an ideal place for it. We have relatively flat roads, scenic landscapes and year-round warm weather.

The same is true throughout the South.

Yet as The Atlantic report noted, if you bicycle in South Carolina you are 10 times likelier to be struck and killed by a car than if you bike in Oregon (considered a relatively safe haven for cyclists). If you bike in North Carolina, you are eight times more likely to be struck. Louisiana? Seven. And in Mississippi, you are nearly 13 times more likely to be struck and killed by car than in Oregon.

Minimal funding is believed to be central to the problem. Let’s take Massachusetts for example. It’s ranked the 11th safest state in the country for biking, with Boston ranking the eighth-safest city. Legislators there have dedicated 5 percent of the total transportation budget to biking and pedestrian safety initiatives. Now compare that to states like Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and South Carolina. Each of these states ranks among the worst in terms of bicycle safety, and each spent less than one half of one percent on such safety initiatives.

According to cycling advocates, the reason for this has to do with the fact that state planners tend to view bicycling as a form of recreation, rather than a legitimate mode of travel. When planning road designs, the focus is on interstate travel. That means roads that have wide lanes for vehicles, high speed limits, few areas to cross, no biking lanes, fewer intersections, less road lighting. In other words – creation of hazardous situations for bicyclists and pedestrians. Planners, cyclists say, tend to be very averse to providing funding for construction, reconstruction or movement of lane markings.

Those who feel passionately about the issue are confident the safety ratings will improve once more cyclists take to the road. There tends to be power in numbers, and officials will take note the more voices rise to advocate for safe cycling. But that means in the meantime, those cyclists who are heading out are doing so at their own peril.

How many people will be willing to continue riding so long as the conditions remain unsafe?

Reckless driving is a top cause of bicycle deaths, and there have been countless cases where cyclists have fallen victim to hit-and-run drivers. Many of those drivers are later caught. We are dedicated to helping injured cyclists and surviving loved ones obtain the compensation they deserve for these careless acts of roadway violence.

Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

Additional Resources:
Bicycling and Walking in the United States, 2012 Benchmarking Report, Alliance for Biking and Walking
More Blog Entries:
Fort Lauderdale Hit-and-Run Bicycle Accident Victims Left with Insurance Fight, March 14, 2014, Fort Lauderdale Bicycle Accident Lawyer Blog