Doing anything great is similar to building a pyramid. You have to start by having a strong, wide base. Let's all work together and make Florida and other states safer, healthier, and more satisfying places to ride a bike and walk in 2013. It would be good for ourselves and good for our planet. You and I can be the base of support.
Unfortunately, many cyclists choose to ride their bikes at dark without bicycle head lights or tail lights. This is against the law in most states in the U.S. (Amazingly, Washington, Texas, and others only require a head light and rear reflector.) It is also very dangerous. I strongly encourage use of bike lights – I always use them when riding at dark or in stormy weather, and often use a flashing front and taillight during daylight hours. My experience tells me it helps me be seen even at daylight.
As cyclists, we realize there are real dangers associated with our riding bikes. Between 600 and 900 bicycling fatalities occur in the US each year, and nearly 50,000 bicyclists are injured annually. These are numbers that we must reduce, but many argue they are much lower than the numbers of persons who dies from diseases that could have been reduced or prevented if those people had exercised – such as regular bicycling. Bicyclists who commute or ride frequently, instead of using their cars, and who follow traffic laws religiously, are generally likely to benefit by much better overall health. Various researchers don’t agree, however some argue that bicycling is less dangerous per hour than driving a vehicle.
Should bicyclists wear a helmet whenever they ride? Do helmets really prevent death or serious injury? Is the cost and safety benefit of a helmet worthwhile? About half of all bicyclist must apparently believe “NO!” to these questions.
The statistics for wearing a bicycle helmet are compelling. About 9 out of 10 bicyclists who die are not wearing a helmet. According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, 91% of all cyclists killed in 2009 in the United States were not wearing a helmet. In Florida in 2009, there were 100 bicycle fatalities. Only 12 riders were wearing helmets. 88 were not. From 2000 to 2010, Florida suffered 126 bicycling deaths to helmeted riders. But there were 964 deaths to cyclists not wearing a helmet.
57 million Americans ride bikes regularly. With nearly two billion bicycle outings a year, it should come as little surprise that nearly 580,000 of those rides end up in a visit to the emergency room.
Collisions with motorists cause 90 percent of bicycling deaths.
Unfortunately, Florida has the second highest traffic fatality rate in the country for cyclists. Often, the offending motorist is hitting the gas to pass, as opposed to slowing down. For those of us passionate about cycling, there’s nothing worse that a car coming dangerously close, “buzzing” us as they pass by. Many drivers don’t feel cyclists should be on the road and should only ride in parks or away from cars. But ignorance of the law is no excuse. Cyclists have the legal right to be on the road.
In Florida, being injured while riding a bike is far too commonplace! Cyclists continue to suffer injuries in greater numbers and higher rates. In 2010, there were 4,610 Florida cyclists who suffered non-fatal injuries when involved in motor vehicle crashes. In 2008, the total number of Florida cyclists suffering these injuries was 4,391. In Duval County in 2010, 192 cyclists were injured in motor vehicle crashes.
The FBI says there were 183,028 bicycles stolen in the United States in 2009. However, the National Bike Registry estimates the numbers are MUCH HIGHER and are closer to 1.5 million per year, because most bike thefts are not reported. College campuses, such as those at the University of Florida in Gainesville, the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida State University in Tallahassee, and the University of South Florida have very high bike theft expereince. Florida college students which bicycle must be extremely vigilant to trying to prevent the theft of their bicycles. According to the bike lock manufacturer, Kryptonite, the Top 10 Worst Cities for Bike Theft are:
Perhaps the most prevalent type of cycling crash my clients have suffered is the “Right Hook”. This is where the cyclist is riding straight ahead and a motor vehicle, on the cyclist’s left, suddenly turns right – directly into the path of the cyclist. A collision occurs when the cyclists can stopped fast enough, and the cyclist is usually injured.
Over six years, two Swedish student inventors have created an airbag to protect bicyclists from head injuries. Cyclists often told the inventors they chose not to wear conventional bicycle helmets because they were ugly and bulky and created “helmet hair”. The new air bag device normally looks similar to a scarf. It even has a “black box” that will detect certain data about the last 10 seconds prior to impact in a crash.