Cycling is great for the environment and can contribute to a healthier lifestyle. However, data shows that riding a bike puts you at an increased risk of getting into a crash, often with severe consequences.
These numbers shouldn't deter you from cycling. Being aware of the risks that exist on the road and understanding your rights and responsibilities as a cyclist will help keep you safe.
Overview of Cycling Accidents in Florida
In 2022, Florida was the deadliest state for cyclists.1 Even though there were fewer fatalities in 2023, the Sunshine State remains high on the list of dangerous places for cycling, with over 8,200 bicycle crashes, 208 fatalities, and more than 7,790 injuries recorded.2
Data also shows that accidents involving cyclists are more likely to result in injuries or death. While accidents involving cyclists accounted for slightly over 2% of crashes reported in 2023, these crashes caused 6% of deaths.
Bicycle accidents are more likely to be fatal due to cyclists being more exposed to direct contact with a vehicle in the event of a crash. Plus, the average car is now 1,000 pounds heavier than in 1980, a trend that makes collisions deadlier for cyclists and pedestrians.4
The state of Florida is also facing some unique challenges. The strong tourist industry combined with Florida being one of the fastest-growing states in terms of population means there are more cars on the roads.3 Problematic behaviors such as speeding, distracted driving, or drunk driving are also contributing to the high number of crashes recorded.
Cyclists' Rights on the Road
Under Florida law, cyclists have the same rights as drivers. Roadway position is the main exception, with rules stating that bicyclists must ride on special lanes, bike paths, or sidewalks.5
If these options aren't available, cyclists must stay as close to the edge of the roadway as possible, a dangerous situation when auto drivers are speeding or have poor visibility.
When crossing at intersections, cyclists should follow the same rules that apply to cars, including following posted signage, yielding, and signaling their turns. Drivers should watch out for cyclists and exercise extra caution, especially when approaching intersections.
Advocating for a safer infrastructure is important. Local governments, non-profits, drivers, and cyclists all have a part to play in developing safer designs and raising awareness of the need to protect cyclists.
Responsibilities of Cyclists
Cyclists have their own set of responsibilities when it comes to keeping others safe and ensuring that others can see them.
Because Florida law considers bicyclists as vehicles, you should follow all the rules of the road when riding your bike:
- You should respect traffic lights, stop signs, and other signage.
- Make sure to signal when you turn. Yield according to the rules of the road.
- If you're under 16, you must wear a helmet when riding.6
- You should use a white front lamp when riding at night as well as a red reflector in the back.
- Avoid distractions. For instance, Florida law prohibits the use of headphones when riding a bike.
It's also your responsibility to carry insurance. Florida is a no-fault state, which means you'll have to file a PIP claim with your own insurer if you sustain an injury. Most auto insurance policies cover bicycle accidents, but it's a good idea to check your coverage.
Safety Gear and Precautions
There are additional steps you can take to prevent bicycle accidents and protect yourself from injuries:
- Wear reflective clothing. Reflective bands on your arms can make you more noticeable when signaling turns.
- Always wear a helmet. Consider investing in a cycling helmet with a built-in airbag.
- Gloves can protect your hands in a crash.
- Invest in protective eyewear to maintain visibility and protect your eyes.
- Reduce blind spots with a handlebar mirror.
- A horn is another useful accessory for signaling your presence.
Legal Considerations After an Accident
If you ever find yourself involved in a bicycle crash, following these steps will ensure the best outcome possible:
- Check yourself and others for injuries. You have a responsibility to call 911 if someone needs medical assistance.
- Report the crash to law enforcement if anyone is injured or property damage exceeds $500.
- If you don't contact law enforcement, you should still self-report it online.
- Share your contact information with the other people and witnesses involved.
- Document everything. Take pictures and write down details since things can feel fuzzy after an accident.
- If the accident caused an injury or property damage, you have 14 days to file a PIP claim with your insurer.
- You can qualify for additional compensation under tort law if your injuries exceed a certain threshold or if another party involved was criminally negligent.
- Contact a Florida bike accident lawyer to discuss your options and get help with filing your claim or seeking additional compensation.
Safety and Respect Can Save Lives
Due to the high number of crashes involving cyclists in Florida, everyone has an important role to play to make the roads safer. Fostering a culture of safety and respect can prevent deadly crashes and make cycling a more pleasant experience.
If you ever find yourself involved in a bicycle crash, Accident.com can help. Take a few minutes to fill out our online form, and we'll match you with a Florida bike accident lawyer for a free consultation.