TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - Florida is considered to be the most dangerous state for cyclists, according to a new study.
Every year, about two percent of deaths in motor vehicle crashes are bicyclists, reports AAA. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 783 cyclists were killed in the U.S. in 2017. Among those, 125 of the deaths occurred in Florida.
The Tampa Bay area is the biggest contributor to the problem. In a 2018 report, the first four spots on the list of deadliest metro areas are claimed by the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, Jacksonville, Orlando and Miami before the list ventures outside of Florida.
Some of the factors making things especially dangerous for bicyclists in the state include: an aging and densely packed population, tourists who are unfamiliar with the roads and alcohol or distracted drivers.
According to the recent AAA survey of cyclists in Florida, many bicyclists aren’t doing enough to protect themselves:
- 36 percent don’t wear a helmet while riding a bicycle
- 56 percent ride with traffic while 21 percent ride against traffic
- 74 percent of those who ride against traffic do so because they prefer to see approaching vehicles.
Florida law requires bicyclists to operate on the right side of the road – or in a bike lane, if there is one -- as well as:
- Motorists are required to give at least three feet of space when passing a bicyclist
- Bicyclists 16 years old or younger must wear a helmet
- Bicyclists should operate on the right side of the road; in a bicycle lane if applicable
- Bicycles operating in the dark should have a light on the front and back
- Bicycles may operate on sidewalks, but pedestrians have the right of way
AAA offered the following tips for bicyclists:
- Ride on the roadway or shared pathways, rather than on sidewalks.
- Follow the same rules of the road as other roadway users, including riding in the same direction as traffic and following all the same traffic signs and signals
- Signal all turns
- Wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet every time and on every ride
- Be visible by wearing bright colors during the day, reflective gear in low light conditions and use head and tail lights at night
- Respect is a two-way street. Show motorists the same courtesy you expect from them.
AAA offered the following tips for motorists:
- Stay alert - avoid all distractions while driving
- Yield to bicyclists while turning
- In bad weather, give bicyclists extra passing room, just as you would other motorists
- Look for bicyclists by checking mirrors and blind spots before entering or leaving a lane of traffic
- Slow down and give at least three feet of clearance when passing
- Reduce your speed when passing bicyclists, especially when the road is narrow
- NEVER honk your horn at a bicyclist - it could cause them to swerve into traffic or off the roadway and crash
- Children on bicycles are often unpredictable - expect the unexpected and look out for them