What are the Most Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents in Florida?

Speeding car passing beside cyclist on the road

Tampa Bay is a natural place for bicycling, with year-round sunshine, more than 100 miles of bike lanes, and flat-to-gently sloping terrain. Biking is not only popular in the Tampa Bay area, but it is also dangerous. With almost six thousand bike crashes reported in 2021, Florida has become one of the most dangerous states for bike riding.

Speeding car passing beside cyclist on the road

Pinellas County, in particular, has the highest cyclist death rate in the Tampa Bay metro area, with 7 deaths per 100,000 residents, the highest rate in the country.

What Makes Tampa Such a Dangerous Place to Bike?

In most counties, motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians all share the same space. Busy thoroughfares serve two functions: they transport cars to interstates and they serve as local streets, connecting homes and businesses. These roads are dangerous for cyclists in particular because there are so many potential places for their path to intersect with vehicles—behind, in front, and on the side. There are also factors, such as Florida’s large senior population and a year-round influx of tourists who are frequently unfamiliar with local traffic patterns and risks.

The climate and topography of the area both contribute to the overall cause of such unenviable statistics. Walking and cycling are encouraged in Pinellas County due to the pleasant weather and flat terrain. Furthermore, urban streets are widely constructed, encouraging speeding despite 45 mph limits, particularly during the pandemic slowdown of vehicle traffic.

Another issue that the county recognizes is poor lighting, particularly in low-income and minority neighborhoods where people rely heavily on walking and biking to get around. Because of their walkability and slow speeds, places like downtown St. Pete have fewer fatalities and serious injuries than other parts of the county. In those areas, drivers are generally more cautious.

What are Some of the Most Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents?

Bicycle accidents on public roads can be caused by a variety of factors, many of which are related to the driver. The most common causes are unsafe lane changes, turning without looking for cyclists, driving too close to bike lanes and shoulders, and texting while driving.

Whether you ride your bike for exercise, for your daily commute, or if you are a serious cyclist, you face risks every time you hit the road. Despite the fact that cyclists have the same rights and privileges as drivers, it is no secret that many drivers treat cyclists as second-class citizens. Drivers routinely put cyclists in dangerous situations, from riding on cyclists’ back wheels to passing with almost no room to spare, and drivers who aren’t paying attention can cause accidents before they even realize cyclists are on the road.

Some of the most common causes of bicycle accidents include:

  • Speeding
  • Weaving through traffic & unsafe lane changes
  • Turning without looking
  • Running a red light or stop sign
  • Distracted driving
  • Impaired driving
  • Failure to yield

Injuries a Bicyclist May Experience After an Accident with a Vehicle

People who are hit while cycling in Florida are likely to suffer from minor injuries to permanent disabilities, and many bicyclists who are hit by cars are likely to suffer from:

  • Head Injuries: Head injuries can range from minor scrapes to skull fractures, either of which can result in a brain injury. As a result, Florida law requires all bicycle riders and passengers under the age of 16 to wear a properly-fitted, federally-approved bicycle helmet.
  • Bodily Trauma: After a crash, nearly all bikers will sustain musculoskeletal trauma or soft-tissue injuries. A rider hit on the back wheel may suffer whiplash, whereas a rider hit on the side may suffer a broken leg or a torn ligament in the knee joint. Riders who attempt to “brace” for a fall following a collision risk dislocating their shoulder or breaking their hands and wrists as they hit the pavement. Broken ribs or internal bleeding can result from severe trauma.
  • Back Injuries: Bikers who are hit with extreme force may land on their backs or roll after a crash, causing spinal column damage. Severe neck and back trauma can result in herniated discs or spinal cord damage, which can lead to paralysis.

When a person is injured in this type of crash, the incident must be investigated as soon as possible. Many different parties may be held liable for the victim’s medical bills, lost wages, emotional trauma, and any other long-term damage caused by the crash. Because biking injuries frequently necessitate extensive treatment and rehabilitation, victims must carefully consider all of their options.

What are the Most Popular Places to Bike in Tampa Bay?

Ranging from waterfront scenery to relaxing views of native greenery to easy detours to some of Florida’s best beaches, here are some local biking hotspots:

  • Pinellas Trail: The Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail stretches from Tarpon Springs in the north to St. Petersburg in the south, passing through Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Belleair, Clearwater, Largo, Seminole, South Pasadena, and Gulfport.
  • Fort de Soto Bike Path: Fort de Soto Park is southwest of St. Petersburg and runs through five islands: Madelaine Key, St. Jean Key, St. Christopher Key, Bonne Fortune Key, and the main island, Mullet Key. The five keys are connected by either a bridge or a causeway.
  • John S. Taylor Park Trail: John S. Taylor Park is located in Largo, FL, and offers tons of added features aside from its bike trails, such as a disc golf course, several picnic shelters, boat ramps, and more.
  • Suncoast Trail: The Suncoast Trail is a 42-mile paved trail that runs through Hillsborough County, Pasco County, and Hernando County. Trailheads with grass parking and paved handicap parking can be found on SR 54 and Suncoast Parkway. There are benches and sheltered tables along the entire trail. On the Pasco section of the trail, there are two wildlife viewing areas.
  • Walsingham Park: Walsingham Park is located one-quarter mile west of the Pinellas Trail on 354 acres divided by 100-acre Walsingham Lake. One entrance is on Walsingham Road, and the other is on 102nd Avenue North.

What is Being Done to Reduce Bicycle Crashes in Tampa Bay?

The Pinellas County Board of Commissioners is attempting to address these issues by instituting Vision Zero, a program aimed at expanding public education, engineering, and enforcement programs throughout the county, as well as building roundabouts to reduce speed and increase safe traffic flow.

This includes putting in a roundabout on US Highway 19 in Palm Harbor, which is notorious for speeding. There are also plans to remove a lane on Drew Street in Clearwater to make more room for bicyclists and pedestrians. Projects like these will eventually make a difference, but they will take time and money to execute.

Clearwater Bicycle Accident Attorney James Magazine

The bicycle accident lawyer of Magazine & Light Law Group understands how to approach bicycle accident cases in order to obtain maximum compensation for victims. We handle the legal investigation, ensuring that insurance companies pay for all of your injuries and losses. We keep you constantly updated as your case progresses, allowing you to rest and recover. Best of all, we waive all fees and only collect payment for representation when you receive a verdict or settlement. Contact us today! 

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James (Jim) Magazine is a Florida Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer who has spent his career helping injured victims. Jim is licensed to practice law in the State of Florida since 1990 and is also admitted to practice at the Appellate level and admitted to the United States Supreme Court.