Cycling in Florida: A hazardous proposition

You love riding a bicycle, but you know that Florida is one of the most dangerous places to do so. Even though you have strong riding skills and take time to prepare before a ride, your safety doesn't just come down to what you do. It's up to drivers to pay attention, too.

In 2014, there were 120 people killed in bicycle accidents in Florida. Why is Florida so dangerous? It could be because of under-equipped cyclists with little experience, or it could be that there are many fast roadways with wide lanes that encourage speeding. A lack of safety education and a lack of bike lanes also has an impact on riders.

Shouldn't rider safety be a priority to the state? Yes, and it is as of a March 2015 news article. The Florida Department of Transportation has made the safety of vulnerable road users a critical priority. As of that report, Florida ranked in the top 10 for bicyclist fatalities and crashes, a claim no state wants to be able to make.

How can you stay safer when you're riding your bicycle in Florida?

Start by recognizing the danger. Automobile drivers who are 20 to 24 years old pose the highest risk to bicyclists. After that, the 45- to 49-year-old group is the next highest threat. Look for young drivers and make sure they're aware of your presence.

Most crashes happen during the season, tapering off by June. The time with the least crashes is in August, suggesting that it's tourists who make the biggest impact on crash rates. Motorists are twice as likely as cyclists to cause an accident, so staying alert is the key to surviving the ride.

Traditional bike safety tips still apply. Wearing brighter colors helps you stand out, and keeping up with traffic while riding with traffic helps prevent accidents. Use lights at night, and make sure you signal if you plan to make a turn. Not all drivers are familiar with cyclists on the roads, so if you're passing parked cars, stay out of the way of drivers' side doors.

If you are struck, an attorney can help you pursue a claim. You have a right to be on the roads and drivers must be careful to keep you safe.

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