The statistics regarding bicycle fatalities and accidents across the USA have made the State of Florida perhaps the scariest place in the nation for bicycle riders and biking enthusiasts. With weather that allows bicycle riders to exercise and enjoy their sport almost daily, a report from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2015 paints a very negative picture for Florida’s bicycling community.
Bicycle Accident Fatality Statistics in Florida
The CDC report revealed that Florida has the highest rate of bicycling fatalities of any state in the US, with 0.57 deaths annually per 100,000 residents. This is more than double the national rate of 0.23 deaths per 100,000 residents in the other 49 states across the nation. Perhaps even more frightening is a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In their 2011 Traffic Safety Facts Report, the NHTSA painted a dismal picture of both the bicycling and overall pedestrian safety in Florida. The report showed that Florida not only had the highest per capita bicycle fatality rate nationally (with a o.63 deaths per 100,000 residents), but also had by far the highest pedestrian fatality rate (with a staggering 2.60 pedestrian deaths per 100,000 residents). While Florida accounts for an estimated 6% of the population in the country, unbelievably the state accounted for nearly 11% of all pedestrian deaths and 17.4% of all bicycle deaths across the entire nation. Additionally, Florida had the top four metropolitan areas considered to be the most dangerous metro areas in the USA to walk or bicycle in:
– Central Florida (Orlando and Kissimmee)
– Tampa (including Clearwater and St. Petersburg)
– Miami (including Pompano Beach and Ft. Lauderdale)
Here are the actual number of bicycle crashes that involved an automobile by county across the State of Florida in 2014 (Please note that the top 20 Florida Counties are ranked by the number of bike crash fatalities):
– Miami-Dade: 985 (15 fatalities)
– Broward: 852 (9 fatalities)
– Hillsborough 532 (8 fatalities)
– Lee 215 (8 fatalities)
– Orange 487 (8 fatalities)
– Manatee 142 (6 fatalities)
– Palm Beach 550 (6 fatalities)
– Pinellas 574 (6 fatalities)
– Escambia 95 (5 fatalities)
– Brevard 217 (4 fatalities)
– Polk 150 (4 fatalities)
– St. Lucie 110 (4 fatalities)
– Volusia 195 (4 fatalities)
– Hernando 36 (3 fatalities)
– Osceola 76 (3 fatalities)
– Clay 55 (2 fatalities)
– Collier 137 (2 fatalities)
– Lake 42 (2 fatalities)
– Levy 4 (2 fatalities)
– Santa Rosa 14 (2 fatalities)
Obviously the more populated counties with a denser population of both bike riders and car drivers land at the top of the list. More car drivers plus more bike riders equates to more accidents and fatalities. Perhaps a much better statistic to look at are the number of bicycle crash fatalities per 100,000 residents in a county. This surprisingly produces a very different picture regarding how safe a bike rider may actually be while enjoying a ride in a particular county in the Sunshine State:
– Levy: 4.96%
– Manatee: 1.82%
– Hernando: 1.73%
– Escambia: 1.66%
– St. Lucie: 1.42%
– Santa Rosa: 1.29%
– Lee: 1.26%
– Osceola: 1.07%
– Clay: 1.04%
– Volusia: 0.81%
– Brevard: 0.73%
– Orange: 0.68%
– Polk: 0.66%
– Lake: 0.66%
– Pinellas: 0.65%
– Hillsborough: 0.64%
– Collier: 0.61%
– Miami-Dade: 0.59%
– Broward: 0.50%
– Palm Beach: 0.45%
Unbelievably, the statistics reveal that over one person out of every 100,000 residents dies each year from a bike being hit by a car in nine (9) different Florida counties. To perhaps put the situation in a better perspective, only a total of 4 bike fatalities occurred in the entire State of Iowa during the exact time time period. With a population of roughly 3.2 million people, this means that only one person per 800,000 residents were killed. Admittedly, Iowa is not a state that enjoys year round bike riding weather, but the comparison and conclusions are still very scary.
For even more statistics regarding bike crashes in Florida, please visit our page Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents.
The Real Problem In Florida
In a crash between an automobile driver and a bicyclist it is pretty obvious who the loser will most often be. Even though bicycle travel accounts for less than one percent of all modes of transportation in Florida, the statistics show that a disproportionate number of bike riders die each year from accidents involving automobiles.
Perhaps the Florida Department of Transportation report on bicycle safety in Florida that was released in 2013 best sums up the problem. Prepared by the Center for Urban Transportation Research located at the University of South Florida, the report clearly states the “roads and speed limits in Florida were not created to accommodate cyclists and their safe travel”. From an engineering perspective, the report clearly identifies the lack of bike lanes throughout Florida as a major problem. The report also states that the existing bike lanes are simply not wide enough. Complicating this situation, the Florida Highway Patrol has stated that the lack of lighting on many of Florida’s roads is also a major problem in the car versus bicycle safety equation.
Finally, adding the growing number of drivers distracted by their smartphones, texting and in-dash entertainment systems, it’s easy to see why the number of bicycle accidents and fatalities continues to grow annually.
The Florida Department of Transportation did establish a new standard for wider bike lanes on state roads after the report was released, expanding the minimum width from 4 to 7 feet to give cyclists more room when traveling adjacent to speeding motor vehicles. However, existing bike lanes were NOT mandated to be modified to conform to the wider lanes. The report also stated that expanding the existing bike paths could be done at little cost on existing roads by repaving them and reducing car lanes in some cases from 12 feet wide to 11 feet. Yet, sadly so far to date, very little action has been seen statewide to do this and minimal action has been taken to make biking in Florida a safer mode of transportation.
Major Myths About “Bicycle Versus Automobile” Accidents
A recent analysis of data covering the past five years of bike accidents that occurred in Southwest Florida sheds some light on two of the myths that are commonly pointed out when trying to explain the state’s abnormally high crash statistics:
1. Bike riders running red lights cause most of the crashes.
The data analysis showed this to be false. Although the vast majority of accidents were found to occur at intersections, bicyclists running red lights did not even make the top five list of causes. By far the leading cause of the accidents was the motorist or driver of the car failing to yield. In descending order this was followed by careless driving, “other motorist actions” and running through a stop sign by the motorist.
2. Snow Birds and elderly tourists are hitting cyclists.
Once again, the data analysis showed this to be false. The majority of incidents involved drivers between twenty to forty years of age. The 20- 24 year old drivers were by far the leaders of all age groups involved in bike-auto crashes. Next were the 45- 49 year old age group. Interestingly enough was the fact that the 55+ age group had the least number of accident involvement.
Florida Bicycle Accident Attorney
If you sustain a personal injury caused by a car while you are riding a bicycle, you may be entitled to have your medical bills and lost wages paid by your automobile insurance or by the insurance of the person that was driving the car. At the Law Office of Mark A. Risi, our Orlando personal injury attorneys will go to work for you to obtain the compensation you deserve. Our bicycle rider injury attorneys have handled numerous such cases throughout Florida that involved automobiles and bicycles. We would be honored to help you with your case. For a free case evaluation , or if you have any questions about Bicycle and Pedestrian Accidents, please feel free to call us today at (407) 423-1313 or contact us online and we will answer any questions that you may have.