21 May

National Bike Safety Awareness Month (And Safety Tips)

General, Personal Injury

tampa bicycle accident attorney

May is National Bike Safety Awareness Month. At The Florida Law Group, we know how tragic bicycle accidents can be.

We also know that because of COVID-19, more people are out riding bikes than ever before, which increases the risk of injured cyclists. The New York Times released an article on May 18 titled “Thinking of Buying a Bike? Get Ready to Wait” which explained that there is currently a global bike shortage (not quite as bad as the toilet paper shortage was, but almost) because people are looking for alternatives to public transportation in large cities and also because people are looking for new ways to exercise while socially distancing. Florida is no exception to this – a quick Google search for bike suppliers and sports chains in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Miami, Jacksonville, etc. will reveal that they are all out of bikes.

However, this could create the perfect storm – as Florida slowly reopens, and people return to work and activities after being in quarantine since March, more motorists who are out of practice will also be on the road with bikers.

To help everyone stay safe, we wanted to take this blog and remind everyone – whether driver or cyclist – to remember some simple safety tips that can help avoid serious bicycle accidents and potentially deadly injuries.

If you have been involved in a bicycle accident in the Tampa Bay area, our expert personal injury lawyers can help you understand your legal options and fight for justice. You may be entitled to more compensation for your injuries than your insurance company is leading you to believe! Call our office today for a free case evaluation.

Bike accidents are more common in Florida and more dangerous than you might think.

Did you know that bicyclists are more likely to be killed in Florida than any other state? Not only that, but Florida’s individual cities are also among the most dangerous for cyclists, according to data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. From 2007-2016, Florida had 6.2 bicyclist deaths per every 100,000 people. The number two state isn’t even close – Lousiana only had 3.9 deaths, an almost 60% difference. The Tampa/St. Petersburg area had 7.0 per capita deaths, making it the most dangerous city in the U.S. for cyclists. It is followed by Jacksonville, Orlando, and Miami, then Sacramento, California. 4 out of the top 5 most deadly cities for bicyclists are in Florida! The Wall Street Journal published an article in 2018 about how Pinellas County has the highest bicyclist death rate in the Tampa Bay area, and the Tampa Bay Area has the highest bicyclist death rate of any metro area in the U.S. And these are just statistics concerning fatalities. Serious bicycle accidents that result in injuries happen more often; just because a bicycle accident doesn’t cause death doesn’t mean that it can’t change your life forever.

Why Florida?

Florida has a high elderly population (higher than most states). We also have more motorists who are tourists and who are unfamiliar with the roads. Florida’s metro areas (particularly the Tampa Bay area) are densely populated. And up until January, texting and driving was not a primary offense, meaning police could not pull over drivers only for texting and driving (that has changed in 2020). All of these factors together create a higher risk for cyclists in Florida.

Interesting facts to know

Did you know that regardless of the time of year, most deaths resulting from bicycle accidents occurred between 6pm and 9pm? They also occurred most often in urban areas (no surprise there). However, it may surprise you to know that it was 8 times more likely for a male than a female to be killed in a bicycle accident, and that alcohol was involved in 37% of all fatal bicyclist crashes in 2017 (according to NHTSA data).

Tips for cyclists

  1. Always ride with a helmet. Make sure it fits properly.
  2. Always check your equipment before riding. Inspect your bike, the gears, the brakes, the tires, the seat, the handlebars, etc.
  3. Never ride a bike that’s too big or too small for you. It makes it harder to control.
  4. Be predictable and ride in the same direction as traffic, in a straight line.
  5. Use hand signals before turning or changing lanes, and never do this suddenly – give drivers enough time to realize what you are doing.
  6. Look twice before turning or before crossing the street, even if you have the right of way.
  7. Obey traffic signals, signs, and lane markings.
  8. Wear bright colors, and use reflective materials and lights on your bike in the evenings and at night to ensure that drivers can see you.
  9. Don’t carry items in your hand (like a phone or water bottle). It should be in a backpack or strapped to the bike.
  10. Double knot your shoelaces and tuck in loose pant legs.
  11. Plan your route carefully – know where you’re going and consider choosing a route with less traffic.

What to do if you were in an accident

If you were involved in a bicycle accident, take pictures of the scene and contact law enforcement. They can officially document the accident. Then, get medical treatment immediately, even if you do not feel hurt. Some injuries will not present themselves right away due to adrenaline. Not having a complete medical evaluation can lead to a larger medical emergency and also decrease your chances of recovering maximum compensation. Do not discuss fault or say you’re sorry – even if you aren’t at fault, these types of apologies can be used against you later. It’s not up to you to determine fault. You do not have to speak with insurance companies when they call you. They may sound compassionate over the phone, but insurance companies are always looking out for their own bottom line, and they want to avoid paying you the full amount you might deserve. That’s why it’s a good idea to discuss your case with an experienced, local personal injury attorney who can help you understand your legal options and advocate for you in what can be a confusing and frustrating claims process.

The Florida Law Group has helped numerous bicycle accident injury victims recover damages. We proudly offer all of our services on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you do not pay us anything unless we win! We are recognized as belonging to the top 1% of law firms in Florida according to the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Call us today to find out if you have a case!