A few days ago, Tampa news media carried the story of a couple killed when their tandem bicycle was struck by an SUV in Pinellas County. The Florida Highway Patrol later charged the driver with drunk driving.
We are reminded of that tragic bicycle accident as cyclists across the nation today honor those who have been killed in cycling and pedestrian crashes with rides of silence. Bicyclists are also riding to highlight the ongoing fight for safer pathways to bike, walk and run.
Dangerous by Design
Earlier this year, Smart Growth America, a nonprofit urban development advocacy organization, released its “Dangerous by Design” report, urging legislators to make streets safer for all users by reducing vehicle speeds.
The group reports that 53,435 pedestrians were killed when struck by vehicles between 2010 and 2019 – increasing 45 percent by the end of the decade. The organization says fatalities in pedestrian accidents reached 6,237 in 2019 – the equivalent of 17 people killed a day.
The dangerous Tampa metro
Unfortunately, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater is listed as the eighth most dangerous metropolitan areas for pedestrians during that decade.
In fact, the list of dangerous metro areas is littered with Florida urban areas. Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford tops the list, followed by at number 4 by Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, and Daytona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach at number 5, Northport-Sarasota-Bradenton at number 6 and Tampa at 8, and three more Florida metro areas at 9, 10 and 11.
Unsurprisingly, Florida is listed as the most dangerous state for pedestrians.
The disregard for pedestrians that is far too common in our state also makes bicycling dangerous.
Top 10 causes of bike crashes involving motor vehicles
- Distracted driving: a leading cause of all types of vehicle crashes, it’s a common factor as well in those involving bicyclists.
- Weaving through traffic: drivers intent on overtaking other vehicles are less likely to see cyclists sharing the road.
- Unsafe lane changes: these dangerous maneuvers often involve drivers abruptly merging into bicyclists’ lanes without checking for cyclists.
- No-look turns: often involving drivers with green lights turning without checking for pedestrians and cyclists.
- Running red lights and stop signs: a common cause of intersection collisions, including those involving cyclists.
- Failure to yield: often at intersections and in roundabouts, drivers fail to yield to cyclists with the right of way.
- Inadequate buffer: these collisions involve drivers who follow cyclists too closely.
- Speeding: going too fast increases a driver’s stopping time and decreases the time available in which to make good decisions.
- Fatigued driving: sleepy drivers have decreased concentration, judgement, eyesight and reflexes – all of which put cyclists in greater danger.
- Impaired driving: the fatal bicycle accident in Pinellas County was yet another illustration of the dangers of drinking and driving.
If you have been injured by a negligent driver in a Tampa bicycle accident, speak with a skilled attorney about your rights and legal options.