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Bicycle, pedestrian fatals called ‘disturbing trend’

Florida has the highest number of bicycle fatalities in the U.S.

In Palm Beach County alone, 11 bicyclists died in 2020, more than double the number of bicycle fatalities recorded in 2019, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Pedestrian fatalities also rose last year, with 41 deaths compared to 40 in 2019.

County Vice Mayor Robert Weinroth, in his role as vice chairman of the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Board, called the upticks “a disturbing trend.”

So Bicycle Safety Month in March has taken on a more serious issue this year. The PBTPA, city of Boca Raton and Florida Transportation Department [FDOT] all have projects in the works to encourage walking and biking to replace cars on the road.

Here’s quotes from the recent Bicycle Safety webinar moderated by Melissa Perlman.

Boca Raton Triathletes president Kristy Breslaw: “We do our best to educate new cyclists and remind our members the rules of the road. Too many people are occupying the same space and not paying attention when driving. Roads are not built for cyclists. A lot of roads don’t even have a bike lane. The predominant place to cycle is A1A [where there’s] not a bike lane at most of A1A and over bridges dealing with a lot of traffic. Holes on shoulders [of roads] cause significant accidents. This weekend I saw where they put reflectors [on the shoulders]. There’s a lot of anger between cyclists and cars.”

Alyssa Frank, lead planner, and PED-Bike coordinator, Palm Beach County Transportation Planning Agency: “Depending on the municipalities, cyclists can be allowed to be on the sidewalk or a shared path. We’ve seen a huge increase of pedestrians and cyclists on the roads. They’re not designed for these users and they don’t have dedicated space. Our main focus is on engineering, building a network with dedicated spaces. We want to help educate…all users of the system..”  https://www.palmbeachtpa.org/safety

Delray Beach Police Department Sgt. Hannes Schoeferle: “We’re seeing bicyclists contributing circumstances; no helmets, no lights at night, improper clothing, using walkways. Crossing that T-intersection, a vehicle coming out expects a pedestrian walking 3 mph. Now a bicycle is going 13 or 14 mph and it’s too late and a crash happens. Educating bicyclists how to be look more in advance.”

Maria Price, bicycle crash survivor: “Maybe if there were cameras, we could have caught the person. Three cars swerved around me on the 14th Street Causeway and did not stop. You have to be your own advocate when something like this happens. I did go back out on road but found it dangerous. At this point, I don’t know if I would ever go out.”

Michael Pike, personal injury attorney, law firm of Pike & Lustig: “You see the after-affects on the legal side. People are out riding and not careful, not paying attention. We figure someone is on their phone or texting. When you get back in car, be aware of all bicycles and pedestrians on the road today. We need a heightened sense of awareness on the streets.”

Weinroth supports two bicycle safety and mandated bicycle education bills up for passage in the state legislature. “It will take federal and state dollars to build out our road system and make them compatible,” he said. The PBTPA’s Vision Zero “will make sure our roads are so safe, nobody dies on them.”

By Marci Shatzman

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