Sunday, August 30, 2015

As Usual, Florida Is Deadliest State For Bicyclists

We keep calling it "bicycle safety."

But it's really a "motorists killing bicyclists" issue. And once we understand that, and teach motorists to change their behavior, we can start lowering the bicyclist fatality rates in the U.S..

For as long as I could remember, the state of Florida was the number one state in the nation for bicyclist fatality rate.

Florida is the top bicyclist fatality rate again, according to this Tampa Tribune story.

I'm nearly three years removed from living in Florida.

But I will never forget the hostility by motorists toward bicyclists plus elected officials' reluctance to step up for bicyclists and devote public resources to bicycling (except for former Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe and former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker.)

When I lived in Tampa, the former mayor at the time, Pam Iorio, was no leader on the topic.

And when I lived in Tampa, the local Florida Department of Transportation office in Tampa blamed bicyclists for our deaths -- an obvious blaming the victim approach.

As I said in this story by the Tribune, an overhaul of motorist education to teach motorists from the start that bicyclists are part of everyday traffic is necessary. It means motorists will have to change the way they driver (stop driving so fast, careless, on their cell phones and inattentive).

When teens and young people want to drive cars, our state DMVs and DOTs can teach them to not engage in distracted and risky driving habits that imperil the lives of bicyclists and to understand that bicyclists are simply co-users of the public roadways.

This from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "While only 1% of all trips taken in the U.S. are by bicycle,1 bicyclists face a higher risk of crash-related injury and deaths than occupants of motor vehicles do.2 In 2013 in the U.S., over 900 bicyclists were killed and there were an estimated 494,000 emergency department visits due to bicycle-related injuries.3 Data from 2010 show fatal and non-fatal crash-related injuries to bicyclists resulted in lifetime medical costs and productivity losses of $10 billion.3"

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