Unlike many cities in Europe, such as London or Amsterdam, metro areas in the United States are not built with cyclists in mind. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2011, bicycle accidents in Florida claimed 125 lives, accounting for 1 in 6 cycling fatalities nationwide.
In Part I of this blog we looked at solutions that the city of Miami is implementing to combat these numbers. However, bicycle safety is a multi-layered problem that can only be solved once each issue is addressed.
Below are the top three contributors to bicycle accidents in the city of Miami:
- The number of bicycle sharing companies have increased, putting many bicycles on the road. Most of the companies allow customers to pick up a bicycle at a self-service station and return it to any other services station in the metro area.
- The combination of tourists, elderly drivers, and relatively packed streets creates a cluster of people who do not know the area and who are not able to drive well.
- Many crashes involve either drunk drivers, drunk cyclist, or both. In 2015, approximately 22 percent of cyclist who were fatally injured and 12 percent of the drivers involved in the crashes had blood-alcohol levels of at least 0.008 percent or higher, which is the legal BAC in Florida.
Although some of these issues are out of a bicyclists hands, there are a few safety precautions to consider while riding that can easily be implemented:
- Dawn and Dusk: Dawn and dusk are the most dangerous times to ride. The rising and falling sun interferes with a motorist vision and minimizes the effectiveness of cyclist safety measures to be detectable. Avoid riding during these hours if possible.
- Be Noticable: Headlights, reflectors, and light colored clothing are a must to make riders as obvious as possible.
- Ride Defensively: All bicycles should have rear view mirrors and loud audible horns to enable operators to ride defensively.
- Safety in Numbers: Ride in groups. The larger the crowd the better as it contributes to motorist awareness of riders.
- Follow the Rules of the Road: Always yield to vehicles even if the road rules give the bicyclist the right of way.
- Stay Protected: Helmets and protective clothing alleviate injury severity.
In the event of a serious injury, preserve the bicycle and other physical evidence, which can be useful for accident reconstruction to establish motorist liability for negligence. Bicycle accident victims are entitled to recover insurance benefits for personal injuries under their own insurance policy. A personal injury lawyer can help you determine your legal options, and the next steps to receive compensation.