With beautiful weather and picturesque scenery, you’d think Miami would be something of a cycling Mecca. Instead, it’s the opposite. Florida is the most dangerous state in the nation – by far – for cyclists, and Miami is one of the most perilous biking cities within the state.
Why is it so bad? There isn’t one single answer. Instead, a handful of factors come into play, some less obvious than others.
Problematic driver behaviors
Many traffic crashes could be prevented if motorists were more responsible while behind the wheel. These poor decisions can affect anyone on the road, not just bikers. Three common driver behaviors that put others in danger include:
- Distracted driving (often because of a smartphone)
- Driving while drunk or otherwise impaired
- Not offering enough room while passing or overtaking
There are other factors that compound the issue and make protecting cyclists more difficult than it needs to be.
Other issues that put cyclists in danger
While drivers should take more care on the roads, there are certain traits specific to Florida communities that can potentially increase the risk for bicyclists. For example:
- The state has many older drivers, as well as tourists that drive on roads they are unfamiliar with
- Some areas are quite densely packed with people
- Certain cities offer inadequate infrastructure for cyclists, such as small, unprotected bike lanes and poor lighting at intersections
Arguably at the top of the list, however, is enforcement.
Up until late 2019, even though texting while behind the wheel was illegal, a law enforcement officer could not stop a driver solely because of texting – they needed to have another reason to initiate a traffic stop. That made cracking down on the dangerous behavior difficult.
However, sometimes a driver isn’t even held accountable after a crash. A former Florida journalist, Alan Snel, was biking in 2017 when he was hit by a driver. He suffered a concussion (even though he was wearing a helmet), two broken vertebrae and a serious leg injury. Then he discovered the local sheriff’s office didn’t even ticket the motorist for the crash.
In Snel’s view, officials just “allow a certain level of behavior on our roadways that consistently imperils the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians.”
No matter what authorities choose to do (or in this case, not do), you can always consider a personal injury lawsuit if hurt by a negligent driver. Hopefully, in the near future, drivers and those in power will simply do more to protect the bicyclists in their community.