If you are a cyclist in the Tampa Bay Area, you have probably been involved in at least one accident. According to recent studies, Tampa Bay is one of the most dangerous metropolitan areas for cyclists. Some alarming statistics show just how dangerous cycling can be.
At The Fran Haasch Law Group, our bicycle accident lawyers have represented many cyclists injured in accidents. We know that cyclists are often seen as being at fault in an accident, even when they are not. Contact us today for a free case review if you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident.
Florida Is Dangerous For Pedestrians and Cyclists
AAA names Florida as the most dangerous state for bicyclists. According to 2020 data from the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA), 783 bicyclists were killed in the United States, with Florida taking the lead with 169 deaths. Unfortunately, the trend continues. The Florida Crash Dashboard reports almost 6,000 bicycle accidents occurred in 2020 and 6,403 in 2021, and for the first nine months of 2022, 4,600 crashes have already been reported, with 130 fatalities.
Why Are There So Many Bicycle Crashes in Florida?
There are many reasons for the high number of bike accidents and fatalities. The warm weather brings more people outdoors, including cyclists. The state’s large population means more vehicles on the road, which can lead to more accidents. And unfortunately, many drivers do not know how to share the road with cyclists.
Inattention and distracted driving are major factors in many accidents involving cyclists. Drivers often fail to yield to cyclists, make unsafe lane changes, or pass too closely. They may also be distracted by their cell phones or other electronic devices.
How Many Bicycle Accidents Occur in Tampa?
While Florida is the most dangerous state for cyclists, the Tampa Bay area is the deadliest top metro area in Florida for riding a bicycle. Based on per capita numbers, Hillsborough County has the highest traffic fatality rate among large counties in the United States. Approximately 275 people died in traffic accidents in Hillsborough County in 2021, with Pinellas County following closely with 160 traffic fatalities.
- 472 bicycle crashes
- 14 fatal bicycle accidents
- 446 injuries
- 467 bicycle crashes
- 435 injuries
- 20 fatalities
- 518 bicycle crashes
- 8 fatalities
- 494 bicycle crashes
- 546 bicycle crashes
- 16 fatalities
- 504 injuries
2022 Data from the Crash Dashboard
Although data from 2022 is not complete. As of September 10, 2022:
- Hillsborough County has a reported 305 crashes, 14 bicyclist deaths, and 271 injuries
- Pinellas County has a reported 388 bicycle crashes, 9 fatalities, and 374 injuries
Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents
Common causes of bicycle accidents include:
Most cyclists know to travel with traffic flow, but sometimes they ride against traffic to reach their destination more quickly. This is especially common when cyclists are riding on one-way streets.
MetroPlan Orlando completed a study of ten streets with bike lanes compared to ten similar streets without bicycle lanes to better understand how these lanes impact safety. According to their data, bicycling facing the direction of traffic is about five times riskier than bicycling with the flow. By traveling with the flow, drivers are more likely to see cyclists, and they are less likely to make sudden turns in front of them.
Bicyclists who ride carelessly or recklessly are more likely to be involved in an accident. This includes weaving in and out of traffic, riding on the wrong side of the road, or running red lights. Bicyclists who ride under the influence of drugs or alcohol are also more likely to be involved in an accident.
Of course, driver behavior is also a significant factor in bicycle accidents. Most bicycle accidents occur due to driver negligence. The most common causes of accidents involving drivers include distracted driving, speeding, and making sudden turns without signaling. Drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol are also more likely to be involved in an accident.
Common Bicycle Injuries
The most common bicycle injuries include:
- Head injuries
- Facial injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Shoulder injuries
- Elbow, wrist, and hand injuries
- Hip and pelvis fractures
- Knee, ankle, and foot fractures.
Some of these injuries can be minor, but others can be life-threatening. Head injuries, in particular, can often lead to long-term or permanent damage.
According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, bicycle helmets can help reduce the severity of head injuries, but they will not prevent all accidents or injuries. The best way to stay safe while riding is always to be aware of your surroundings and follow the road rules.
The City of Tampa is Working to Make Cycling Safer
The City of Tampa and Hillsborough County have invested time, money, and resources to improve bicycle infrastructure throughout the area. They have a Sidewalks Program that aims to construct and restore sidewalks to improve safety.
They also have a Complete Streets Program. Complete streets are designed so all modes of transportation can share the road safely, including automobiles, pedestrians, bicycles, and transit. Some of their Complete Street projects include:
- Palm Avenue (North Boulevard to Nebraska Avenue)
- Cypress Corridor (Frontage Road to Westshore Boulevard)
- Bougainvillea Avenue (30th Street to 46th Street)
- Hyde Park Avenue and Plant Avenue Safety Improvements Project
Hillsborough County developed a Bicycle Safety Action Plan, including the City of Tampa, Plant City, and Temple Terrace. The plan identifies projects and programs tailored to address the specific problems facing cyclists in Hillsborough County.
As the number of people riding bicycles for transportation and recreation continues to grow, drivers, bike riders, and pedestrians must do their part to make our roads safer.
What Can Be Done to Prevent Bicycle Accidents?
There are many things that both cyclists and drivers can do to prevent accidents.
- Ride with traffic, not against it
- Be predictable- use hand signals to indicate turns
- Wear bright clothes or reflective gear to increase visibility
- Do not ride under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Yield to cyclists when turning
- Give cyclists plenty of space when passing- at least three feet is ideal
- Be aware of cyclists- look for them before making turns
- Do not drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Cyclists and drivers can help make Tampa Bay a safer place to ride by following these simple tips.
What Are the Consequences of Bicycle Accidents in Tampa?
Bicycle accidents can have serious consequences, including injuries, property damage, and even death. If you are involved in a bicycle accident, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even if you do not think you are injured, some injuries may not immediately appear.
Once a doctor or other medical professional has seen you, you should contact an experienced Tampa bicycle accident attorney to discuss your case. An attorney can help you recover damages for your injuries, property damage, and other losses.
Injured in a Bicycle Accident? Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer at The Fran Haasch Law Group
The Tampa personal injury attorneys at The Fran Haasch Law Group can help if you have been injured in a bicycle accident. We have experience helping bicycle accident victims secure the compensation they deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free case review.