As you may or may not know, March is Florida Bike Month. AND, as you may or may not know, the number of incidents of injuries and deaths of bicyclists and pedestrians throughout our two-county area has become alarming. Almost weekly there are incidents of both cyclists and pedestrians being injured or killed.
This trend can be greatly reduced by not only designing better and safer facilities, i.e. more bike lanes, separated bike and pedestrian lanes, striped or painted lanes, more multi-use facilities, etc., but we also need much more and better education and enforcement. How often do you see bicyclists blowing through stop lights or stop signs, riding against traffic instead of with, crossing streets mid-block, weaving in and out of traffic, and pedestrians doing mostly the same thing? Drivers also need to do their part by being aware that bicycles have the legal right to ride with traffic in the road—and they should maintain a safe distance from bicyclists who are exercising this right. Drivers should also take care when exiting driveways and turning right on a red light in order to avoid collisions with cyclists and pedestrians.
Designing roads for increased bicycle and pedestrian safety is an important step that the transportation planners and engineers are already taking. One example of this is FDOT's recent implementation of a “Complete Streets” policy and narrowing vehicle lane widths. Read more about that here. To learn more about different designs for improving safety of bicycle lanes, click here.
Education beginning at a young age should be provided. Easy and free and wide-spread seminars, training, and educational opportunities for improved bicycle and pedestrian safety should be explored more.
Enforcement is also important. Law-enforcement agencies have a multitude of pressing needs, however law-enforcement does have a role in helping to reduce bicycle and pedestrian injuries and fatalities by warning and citing those who are not following the rules of the road.
By all working together, from planners and engineers designing safer roads, bicyclists learning and abiding by the laws of the road, drivers being aware of bicyclists and their rights on the road, pedestrians and cyclists using lights and wearing appropriate clothing at night, and law enforcement enforcing the rules of the road, we can reduce the alarming increase in bicycle and pedestrian incidents.
March is Florida Bike Month. Let us all help in making it a safe bike month.