Florida is most dangerous state for bicyclists

The city of Coral Gables in Miami-Dade County is launching a pilot greenway program in an effort to protect cyclists in the city. The program will include installing plants as barriers to separate the bicycle lanes on certain of its roads from traffic lanes. In a recent report on the program by Coral Gables from the Miami Herald, the newspaper also reported that Coral Gables also recently implemented a bicycle sharing program to encourage residents and visitors to bike instead of drive. The bike sharing program, which uses a smartphone app to allow interested visitors or residents to reserve bikes that can then be dropped off anywhere in the city, is similar to programs that have been rolled out in larger cities across the United States like Austin, Texas and San Francisco, California. Although the moves are only temporary at this time, many bicycle safety advocates are hoping the city eventually makes them permanent.

Florida’s High Bicyclist Fatality Rate

This recent steps taken by Coral Gables is particularly important given the high fatality rate among bicyclists in Florida. The Sunshine State is one of the most dangerous states in the country for those who choose to travel by bicycle according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (“DOT”) Fatality Analysis Reporting System or FARS, a nationwide census conducted on an annual basis by the DOT regarding fatal injuries suffered in motor vehicle traffic crashes. In 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, Florida was the most dangerous state for bicyclists, with 120 bicyclist fatalities, which accounted for over 16% of the total of nationwide 817 bicyclist fatalities in that year. This was also a 13 percent increase in the number of nationwide bicyclist fatalities from 2014 and the highest number of bicyclist deaths nationwide since 1995.

Florida Law Providing Protection for Bicyclists

As can be seen from the official statistics, Florida is a dangerous place indeed for bicyclists. Therefore, Florida’s Legislature has taken pains to ensure that Florida law requires motorists to drive with caution when bicyclists are present on the road. Although many bicycle safety advocates believe the Legislature and local governments like the Coral Gables City Commission have not gone far enough in enacting laws and local ordinances to protect bicyclists on Florida’s roads, motorists have a heightened duty to drive carefully so as to avoid collisions with pedestrians. Under Section 316.130(15), Florida Statutes, all Florida motorists are required to “exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or any person propelling a human-powered vehicle and give warning when necessary.” Specific to bicycles, Florida law requires motorists “overtaking a bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle must pass the bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle at a safe distance of not less than 3 feet between the vehicle and the bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle.” If a driver fails to comply with these laws by passing too closely to a bicycle or otherwise not exercising due care, the motorist can be liable to the injured bicyclist for any injuries that person suffered as a result of the driver’s action. This includes any past or future medical expenses, any past and future loss of income suffered as a result of the bicyclist’s injuries, as well as pain and suffering as a result of those same injuries.

Contact Schwed Adams if You Are a Bicyclist Who Has Been Injured in an Accident With a Motor Vehicle in Florida

Bicyclists in Florida are injured by motor vehicles whose drivers are acting carelessly or negligently at a rate unlike anywhere else in the nation. If you are a bicyclist who has been injured in an accident with a motor vehicle in Florida, contact the experienced lawyers of Schwed Adams Sobel & McGinley, P.A. Our firm has extensive experience in representing personal injury victims, including bicyclists who were injured by a motorist who was not paying attention while driving or refused to comply with Florida law in passing a pedestrian on a bicycle without leaving sufficient room. Call us toll free at 877.694.6079 or email us today to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer regarding your situation.

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