FDOT Study Examines Bicycle Crash Patterns

If you have never been injured in a bicycling accident, then it may seem like one of the most enjoyable and healthy forms of exercise one could enjoy. After all, what could go wrong as you innocently take in the fresh air and the natural landscape, working your heart and lungs, and burning calories like crazy? Unfortunately, plenty. And this is not usually the bicyclist’s fault. As usual—and as in the case of motorcyclist accidents and pedestrian injuries—motorists are your greatest threat. Florida is evidence of this danger too, listed as one of the top states for bicyclist fatalities.

The state has been working to solve the problem, with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) performing an analysis on bike crashes last year. As far back as 2014, Florida was leading in bicyclist fatalities, and the numbers continue to be concerning each year. In their report, researchers explore causes and patterns of such accidents, along with pinpointing ‘hot spots,’ and ways to prevent crashes. They also create crash modification factors for evaluating to ‘assess safety effects of common engineering treatments on bicycle safety.’

In their analysis, the researchers examined 26,036 crashes occurring between 2011 and 2014, finding that age and sex figured into fatalities, with elderly bicyclists and men more likely to be involved in fatal accidents. Fatalities also occurred more frequently for bicyclists riding at night, for bicyclists riding against the flow of traffic, and for those under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The analysis also includes many other detailed facts and statistics:

“The majority of bicycle crashes occurred on urban roadways; only 1.2% of all crashes that occurred on state roads occurred in rural areas,” states the report. “In terms of crash severity, 16.9% of all bicycle crashes that occurred on rural facilities resulted in fatalities while only 2.5% of those that occurred on urban facilities resulted in fatalities.”

“The average age of bicyclists killed in crashes with motor vehicles was 43 years, while the average age of bicyclists involved in traffic crashes was 33.8 years. Among the different age groups, bicyclists between 45 and 54 years of age experienced the highest fatality rate of 19.76 fatalities per year per million population, and those in 65- to 74-year age group experienced the highest injury rate of 875.43 injuries per year per million population.”

The researchers point out the four main crash types:

  • The driver of a car turns right as a bicyclist is crossing.
  • Cars turn left facing bicyclists.
  • Bicyclists ride out into intersections.
  • Motorists run stop signs.

They also identified other reasons for accidents, to include lack of illumination at night in towns and cities, disregard for traffic laws, U-turns, bicyclists hitting car doors, complex intersections, and more.

As for measures to be taken in preventing further crashes, the team suggests more specific areas for bikes. Along with bike lanes, they suggest bicycle tracks and bicycle boulevards (‘defined as traffic-calmed side streets signed and improved for bicyclists to provide a safer alternative to riding on arterials’). Wider curb lanes, speed humps, lane reductions, and raised medians are suggested, along with more crosswalks and roadway lights.

Citing that bicycle crashes make up 5.6 traffic fatalities but overall only make up 1.9 percent of total accidents, the researchers point out that many bicycling accidents are severe.

“Drivers were found to be at-fault in 45.7% (1,321 of 2,888 bicycle crashes) of the crashes while bicyclists were at-fault in 30.2% (871 of 2,888 bicycle crashes) of the crashes. Both bicyclists and drivers were found to be at-fault in very few crashes (0.8%, 22 of 2,888 bicycle crashes),” states the report.

Both drivers and bicyclists tended to be at fault when not yielding right-of-way, ignoring traffic rules, and driving carelessly.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a bicycling accident due to the negligence of others, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

 

Is It Really Okay for Bicyclists to Take Up a Whole Lane in Traffic?

Although you and your family may own a couple of cars and take your rightful place in traffic each day, you may be avid bicyclists too. Most of us have at least one of these smaller two-wheeled vehicles lodged in the garage, taking them out to enjoy a wide range of benefits: fresh air, a free mode of transportation, and the chance to burn tons of calories, get in some cardio, and build both muscle and bone strength. Best of all though, bike riding can be a huge stress reliever…in most cases.

Driving in traffic can be challenging, no matter who is traveling. You may be a motorist trying to get to work on time, feeling extremely frustrated by the enthusiast bicyclist riding ahead of you in traffic. Although they are obviously pedaling at an impressive speed for a bicycle, it may still be just a bit slow enough to keep you from sliding into your parking place on time. Conversely, if you are a bicyclist taking a familiar route through traffic to get to your destination, you may have good reason to worry about that car behind you that seems to be following way too close for safety or with a driver who may even be exhibiting signs of road rage with verbal abuse and honking in an attempt to get you to leave the road.

As a bicyclist, you have every right to travel on the road as long as you are following traffic rules and proceeding in a safe manner. This may not be the most relaxing way to travel—and especially if you lack experience—but it is completely legal. As a motorist, you may not be happy about having to travel a bit more slowly behind a smaller vehicle, but as the saying goes, “Share the road.” It is your responsibility to do so safely and respectfully. Keep in mind too that there are numerous ways motorists can improve travel on the roads with bicyclists (along with motorcyclists and pedestrians), along with helping them avoid collisions:

  • Understand that although there may be fewer of them, bicyclists have the same rights to the road as you do.
  • Avoid distractions while driving.
  • Keep a safe distance.
  • Use proper signals to avoid accidents at intersections.
  • Take extra time and caution when making left- or right-hand turns.
  • Be especially careful around crosswalks.
  • Make sure the road is clear when parking and opening your door near traffic.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a bicycling accident due to the negligence of others, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.

Floridians: Five Ways to Avoid Bicycle Accidents

People travel from all over the world—all times of the year—to bask in the Florida sunshine and enjoy a wide range of fun outdoor activities. Bicycling offers healthy recreation for the whole family, often including even the youngest family members—from tots riding in attached mini-trailers or mounted seats to school-age children who may have shed the training wheels a while ago. And whether you are on vacation or enjoying an area you have lived in for years (gasp, you might even be one of those rare natives!), it is obvious that many Florida roads can be busy, and even slightly treacherous for crossing.

The scene may look innocuous enough as you head out on a quite Sunday morning, but even with its quiet beauty and distinction for idyllic vacationing and living, Florida has reached an all-time high for bicycle crashes and deaths. Experts theorize that more cars on the roads today are the reason for so many accidents and deaths, to include that of pedestrians also. The bottom line is that you and your loved ones are vulnerable in traffic, riding lightweight bikes amidst countless vehicles that on average weigh over 4,000 pounds.

Here are five ways to avoid injury in a cycling accident:

  1. Wear a helmet! While this is especially important for young children who are prone to even worse repercussions from a concussion or traumatic brain injury, cyclists of all ages should protect themselves from the potential of catastrophic head injuries. Before purchasing a helmet, make sure it is US Department of Transportation approved.
  2. Maintain your equipment properly. Having a blowout with a tire bicycle or chain can be dangerous if you are traveling in traffic. Also, make sure you have working tools including a light, bell, or horn.
  3. No matter what time of day you are riding your bike, always wear brightly colored clothing. And although you may be concerned about what type of fashion statement you are making, safety comes first, and neon vests can be extremely effective if you are sharing the road with cars, trucks, and motorcycles. Motorists are used to looking out for cars and trucks—but may have trouble focusing on motorcycles, bikes, and pedestrians. Do everything possible to be visible.
  4. Be aware of your surroundings all the time. This is especially important if you are traveling near or in traffic and approaching areas like intersections. Making eye contact before turning or crossing is helpful. Also, be alert to anything or anyone in your path, whether you are on the road or traveling in a designated side area.
  5. Know the traffic rules and follow them—especially when crossing traffic, making turns, and more. Essentially, you should use the same traffic rules that you do when driving—along with employing the proper hand signals.

If you or your child has been injured in a bicycling accident due to the negligence of others, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.