Florida – and South Florida in particular – has an abysmal record with regard to bicycle and pedestrian safety. The Florida Department of Transportation reports this state is No. 1 in the nation for bicycle deaths and No. 2 for pedestrian deaths. Pedestrian fatality rates are double the national average while bicycle fatality rates are triple the national average.
Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties have the highest rates of bicycle and pedestrian deaths in the state. This has got to change, and increasingly, a number of city leaders are willing to take steps to make it happen.
For example, the Sun Sentinel reports the mayors in Boynton Beach, Delray Beach and Boca Raton have announced they will be dedicating substantial resources to developing a broader, more extensive network of bicycle lanes, walking paths and trails. This will be in addition to redesigning streets to better align with the “Complete Streets” concept, which advocates more consideration for all road users – not just drivers of motor vehicles. That involves reducing speed limits, adding bike lanes, creating more sheltered stops and adding more crosswalks and sidewalks. Finally, these leaders have pledged to launch awareness campaigns targeted at teaching drivers how best to share the road to keep everyone safe.
Other cities on board with the challenge include Lake Worth, Tequesta and West Palm Beach.
In the end, the goal is not just to create communities that are more walkable and livable – but more survivable. It is believed that more people would ride bikes or take walks if they knew they didn’t risk their lives every time they tried.
One way officials in Boca Raton plan to do that is to create significant buffers between pedestrians and cyclists and motor vehicle traffic.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2012 (the most recent year for which final figures were available), there were 726 bicyclists killed and nearly 50,000 injured in crashes with motor vehicles. That’s a six percent increase from the previous year.
Florida had the highest number of bicycle deaths that year – 122 – which accounted for five percent of the total in the nation.
Meanwhile in 2013, there were 4,735 pedestrian deaths nationwide, accounting for nearly 15 percent of all traffic deaths. Florida reported 501 pedestrian fatalities that year, which second only to California (701). Even so, Florida’s rate of pedestrian deaths per 100,000 population was far higher than California – 2.56 versus 1.83.
Our experienced injury attorneys commend those government agencies and safety advocates pushing for change. Often, injuries stemming from bicyclists or pedestrians being struck by cars are severe. Because there is often nothing between one’s body and the pavement, we see broken bones, spinal cord damage, internal hemorrhaging, neck injuries and possible brain damage.
Victims do have recourse for compensation of medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering. We can help.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Palm Beach County cities take on challenge of bike, pedestrian safety, April 1, 2015, By Angel Streeter, Sun Sentinel
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