TAMPA, Fla. - Many cities throughout the Tampa Bay area have taken steps to improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians in recent years, but according to recently released data from Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there is still plenty of room for improvement.
Already named one of the most dangerous places to ride a bike or walk around in the country, bicycle and pedestrian crash statistics from 2019 don’t paint a prettier picture for the region.
The number of pedestrians killed in crashes increased by nearly 10 percent in the Bay Area in 2019: Hillsborough led the way with 59 pedestrian fatalities followed by Pinellas (36), Polk (25), Pasco (23), Manatee (10), Sarasota (9), Hernando (7), Highlands (5), Hardee (3) and Citrus (1).
The trend grows especially troubling when comparing data over the last decade. Hillsborough County saw its number of pedestrian fatalities nearly double in just six years, growing steadily year-over-year from 32 car vs. pedestrian deaths in 2013 to 59 in 2019.
Bay Area roads also remained dangerous for bicyclists. Of the 160 people who lost their lives while riding a bike in Florida in 2019, 45 were killed on Bay Area roads.
Hillsborough saw the most fatal bicycle crashes in 2019 with 11 deaths.
The statistics for bicyclists weren’t much more encouraging. While the overall number of bike fatalities in the Bay Area remained flat over 2018, the region remains one of the worst metro regions in terms of bicycle safety.
In fact, last spring, AAA named Florida the most dangerous place in the country for bicyclists and listed the Tampa Bay area as the deadliest among the top metro areas in Florida.
Some of the factors making things especially dangerous for bikers are: alcohol, distracted drivers and tourists who are unfamiliar with Florida roads.
But drivers aren’t always to blame. The report also cited the need for Florida’s bikers to do their part to improve safety: wear a helmet, wear bright clothing, use lights and reflectors at night and obey the traffic signs, signals and right of way.