As March comes to a close, so does Florida Bicycle Month, but as long as the weather is warm and road and trail conditions are good, there will be plenty of bicyclists riding through our state. Bicycling’s popularity cannot be denied in Florida, where three of our cities – Gainesville, Tallahassee and Tampa – ranked among “The Best Bike Cities of 2016” by Bicycling magazine in its biennial survey.
Although Florida has long supported bicycle safety, our state remains the country’s deadliest for bicyclists. In the five-year period that ended in 2015, Florida annually averaged more than 6,500 bicyclist crashes. These accidents led to more than 6,100 injuries and 132 fatalities each year.
Safety awareness campaigns are critical
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that Florida had 150 bicyclist fatalities in 2015, the most recent year these statistics were available. That ranked the most of any state. In addition, Florida also had the highest per-capita rate with 7.4 cyclist deaths per million residents.
This is why safety awareness campaigns are so important. They can save lives, and Florida should be applauded for its ongoing campaign known as “Alert Today Alive Tomorrow” that promotes pedestrian and bicyclist safety.
Promoting safety with these rules
If you want to continue to be safe while riding in bicycle-friendly communities such as the capital city of Tallahassee, you must be prepared. Here are some important bicycling safety tips to follow:
- Wear a helmet: You don’t want to risk having a head injury in case you crash.
- Stay visible: Wear light- and bright-colored clothing such as a vest, jacket and pants. When driving at night or low-light conditions, wear reflective clothing and use lights.
- Use hand signals: Let drivers know which direction you are going. Be certain to make eye contact with drivers, too, and don’t assume they see you.
- Be alert, looking out for road distractions.
- Ride in the direction of traffic.
- Don’t weave in and out of traffic.
- Avoid distractions such as talking or texting on a smartphone or listening to music.
- Obey the traffic laws and traffic signals. Stop at stop signs and don’t blow through a red traffic light.
- Make sure your bike is in good working condition and ready. Check your brakes for a quick safety test.
- Don’t ride your bicycle while drunk.
Bicycling can be fun way to get to know a city, a great way to exercise and be with friends and also an alternative way to commute. Stay safe on the road and you will continue to enjoy riding through the streets of your town.