For the past several years, Tampa has ranked consistently among the top 3 most dangerous cities for cyclists within the state of Florida, typically trailing behind Orlando and/or Miami.
Since 2007, nearly 4,200 bicycle accidents involving injuries have been reported annually. At least 100 of those accidents involve a bicyclist death. At the current average rate, at least 12 people are injured and 2 people die in bicycle accidents every week in Florida.
Traffic experts and bicycle safety advocates strongly urge all bicyclists to wear a properly fitted helmet every time you ride a bike. The following tips can help reduce the likelihood of riders being involved in catastrophic or fatal bicycle accident:
- Watch for Opening Car Doors: Always scan the street several cars ahead. Ride at least 3 feet away from parked cars, taking the lane if necessary. Be prepared to stop suddenly whenever riding alongside parked cars on a street. Keep your weight over your rear wheel and apply strong force to the front brake lever, with moderate force to the back.
- Make Yourself Visible: Wear bright, vibrant clothes when riding. Consider wearing a reflective safety belt or vest for maximum visibility. If riding during twilight hours or after dark, install flashing bicycle lights in addition to the bike’s reflectors. Being seen by drivers is a cyclist’s first and best defense against being hit by an automobile.
- Never Pass Cars on the Right: Don’t overtake slow-moving vehicles on the right-hand side. Doing so makes a bicycle rider invisible to left-turning motorists at intersections. Passing on the right also means that the vehicle you’re passing might not see you and may make a right turn into you.
- Avoid Parking Lot Exits: If possible, avoid riding on a road with numerous parking-lot exits. The dangers posed to cyclists are too many so it’s best to opt for a less-direct route. If you don’t change routes, follow the law and ride fully in the road. Stay off the sidewalk at all times – motorists aren’t looking for bicyclists there.
- Look Behind You Often: Practice looking over your shoulder until you are comfortable doing so without swerving or losing your balance. If you regularly ride in traffic, consider installing a side view mirror to help see cars behind you.
- Avoid Vehicles Turning Left in Front of You: If you see a car turning into your path as you begin to cross into an intersection, turn right into the lane with the vehicle. Resist the urge to creep into the intersection at red lights to get a head start.
- Never Stop or Wait in a Driver’s Blind Spot: Simply stop behind a car, instead of to the right side of it. This makes a bicyclist much more visible to traffic on all sides.