On February 6th, a local Florida bicyclist was brought to the emergency room after being involved in a crash in Clearwater.
Due to this, questions have been raised surrounding whether it is safe to ride a bike in Pinellas County. Are bicycle accidents occurring more often, and what can be done to prevent them?
In the United States, there are roughly 130,000 bicyclists injured in crashes every year. Specifically, in 2020, there were 518 bicyclist crashes in Pinellas County, 494 of which resulted in bodily injury to the cyclist and 8 of which resulted in a fatality. On average, this breaks down to 1.4 bicycle accidents a day in Pinellas County.
Additionally, a three-year trend from 2018 to 2020 showed a decline in the number of accidents reported that year, from 622 to 518 crashes in Pinellas County. However, in 2021, Florida reported 6,399 bicycle crashes and Hillsborough County and Pinellas County made up 15% of those crashes alone. It is also important to note that the amount of bicycle crashes were projected to remain the same. As the Florida community moves to an increase in cycling, one can project the level of accidents occurring will either stay the same or continue to increase.
What Causes a Bicycle Accident?
There are many reasons bicycle accidents can occur, and currently, Florida leads the nation in bicycle fatalities. Bias against cyclists and not sharing the road are two of the biggest causes of bicycle accidents. First, bias against cyclists is real. Bias against cyclists can come across as seeing the cyclist as a nuisance or an obstacle on the road, leading to frustration and negative attitudes toward them. This can be dangerous for both vehicle drivers and cyclists as these biases can lead to conflicts and harmful situations on the road.
Second, not sharing the road is a big factor in bicycle accidents. According to Florida bicycle traffic law, bicyclists have the same rights to the roadways as other vehicles. Additionally, bicycles are legally defined as a vehicle and that the bicyclist is a driver. This means that vehicles must share the road with bicyclists the same that they would with another vehicle and they must not impede the safety operations of the bicyclists. Thus, vehicles need to share the road with bicyclists and try not to share a lane with them.
How to Prevent an Accident
As a bicyclist, one should take special precautions to heighten their level of safety while riding. While simply wearing a helmet can prevent fatal head injuries, there are additional precautions that can protect a bicyclist and possibly even prevent an accident.
Again, helmets are the number one safety precaution that a cyclist can make. By having a helmet that fits properly is essential to ensure all cyclists are wearing helmets that provide the highest level of head protection.
2. Protective and Reflective Clothing
Reflective and protective clothing such as jackets, pants, and gloves are common pieces of bike safety gear. Protective clothing can be beneficial in protecting a person’s skin from the harsh elements that they were exposed to during the crash. This can include paved roads or broken glass from a vehicle. Additionally, failing to see a cyclist is one of the most common reasons for a crash. By wearing reflective clothing, a cyclist can increase the visibility of their presence around vehicles.
As most bicycle accidents involve other vehicles, having mirrors that show the cyclist the approaching traffic can prove beneficial. Mirrors help to prevent cyclists from straying in front of traffic. For example, by using a mirror, cyclists can make sure that the coast is clear before moving to and from the roads.
4. Reflectors and Lights
Furthermore, simply wearing reflective clothing is not sufficient. Cyclists should also have reflectors and lights that increase their visibility, especially in dark conditions. When light is flashed onto a reflector, that light is reflected back in the direction it came from. This reflection is important in all conditions as it ensures that cyclists are properly seen by vehicles.
Why Should You Choose Jones Law Group?
As Florida residents, the attorneys at Jones Law Group understand the importance of safe bicycling in our neighborhoods. If you or someone you know has been injured in a bicyclist accident in Florida, we can help. Our years of experience will be invaluable to your case. We will fight for your rights and to get you the money you deserve. Contact us online, or at 727-571-1333 anytime you or someone you know has been in a bicycle crash.