At a U.S. Conference of Mayors in 2015 in Washington, D.C., then-U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx (serving from 2013-2017) implored the gathering to make a commitment to improving the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians. The former mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina stated, “Overall, automobile crashes have declined in the last five years, but the number of bicyclists and pedestrians killed by automobiles has actually risen.” Is bicycling safe in Florida, in Saint Petersburg, or anywhere?
CDC STATISTICS FOR FLORIDA
In August 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a report that gave Florida the highest rate for bicycling deaths in the United States with “0.57 per 100,000 people, more than double the nationwide rate of 0.23 per 100,000.” Even worse than that dismal statistic is the fact that, while other states have made progress in reducing bicycle deaths in their state, Florida has hardly made a small dent in reducing their numbers. Largely because they have done nothing about the problem.
Statistics on bicycle-car crashes for the United States nationwide indicate that “… bicyclists die on U.S. roads at a rate double that of vehicle occupants …” DeWayne Carver of the Florida Department of Transportation, as the Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, is quoted as saying, “We’re not sure to what extent the roadways are dangerous, and how much of the problem is the number of people using the roadways.”
NHTSA STATISTICS FOR THE UNITED STATES
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported in March 2017 that “The number of pedalcyclists killed in 2015 is 12.2 percent higher than the 729 pedalcyclists killed in 2014, while there were 10 percent fewer pedalcyclists injured than the estimated 50,000 injured in 2014.” The NHTSA identified a “pedalcyclist” as “bicyclists and other cyclists including riders of two-wheel, nonmotorized vehicles, tricycles, and unicycles powered solely by pedals.” Key findings from the study are:
• Pedalcyclists’ deaths in 2015 accounted for 2.3 percent of all traffic fatalities, numbering 818.
• 70 percent of the pedalcyclists who died in 2015 from crashes with motor vehicles happened in urban areas.
• The average age of pedalcyclists killed in motor vehicle accidents raised in 2015, from 41 to 45.
• Males were six times more likely to die in a fatal pedalcyclist accident than females.
• Of all pedalcyclist crashes in 2015, alcohol was involved in 37 percent of the time.
• More than 27 percent of pedalcyclists whose accidents resulted in death in 2015 had a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.1 g/dL or more.
PASCO COUNTY HIT-AND-RUN
On May 16, 2017, Fox 13 news reported on an accident that sent a teenage boy flying from his bicycle. Thankfully, the teenager, Johnny Walsh, Jr., age 14, did not sustain any injuries from the event. Also, thankfully, security cameras on a nearby home caught the incident on film. According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Walsh was struck by a speeding SUV that sped through a stop sign and lost control of the vehicle on Moog Road. The driver drove into a yard, hit a mailbox, and struck a parked car before hitting Walsh on his bicycle. The driver did not stop and, after striking Walsh, went on to hit yet another mailbox and the debris from that mishap struck a 12-year old bicyclist. According to Jacki Lily, who shared the security camera video with news outlets, there were other children nearby that could potentially have been harmed by the actions of this SUV driver. The Florida Highway Patrol is still searching for the driver. The vehicle was described as a “… gold Ford Expedition with Florida tag GYCT99.” The description of the driver was given as “… a while male with light brown or blonde hair , 20 to 30 years of age.”
It’s not just about bicycling or being a pedalcyclist; it’s about other drivers on the road, too. Serious consequences can occur if each is not treated with concern and respect, and if laws are not followed. If you or a loved one have been on a bicycle and hit by a car, or pedalcycle and have been hit by a car, contact a personal injury attorney to see how to navigate your claims against the driver’s insurance.