Jacksonville Bicyclists Gear Up for National Bike to Work Day

On Thursday, May 15, 2014, a large number of bicyclists in Jacksonville, Florida celebrated National Bike To Work Day. In my role as Chairperson for the Jacksonville Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee, I accompanied Mayor Alvin Brown during Bike To Work Day, as he rode his bicycle through the downtown.
Jacksonville Bicyclists Gear Up for National Bike to Work Day

City Councilperson Don Redman also rode with us.

The climate for cycling in Florida is slowing changing for the positive.  The Mayor’s willingness to bicycle with his Jacksonville cycling residents was a nice symbolic gesture. Now he must really “move the dial” to improve cycling safety.

Surely Mayor Brown must be disturbed and maybe embarrassed that Jacksonville is one of the worst cities in the United States for bicycling safety and cycling fatalities. According to the Alliance for Biking and Walking Benchmarking Report of 2014, Jacksonville is nearly last in the level of commuter participation for cyclists and walkers, as compared with the 52 largest U.S. cities. Miami ranks #21 in numbers who ride or walk to work. Jacksonville ranks dead last of major U.S. cities in pedestrian fatalities. Jacksonville is #49 out of the 52 largest cities in the rate of bicycling deaths per 10,000 bicycling commuters.

Bicycle Fatality Rates

However, Jacksonville, Florida’s ranking is not a significant change from years past. In the 2010 Alliance Benchmarking study, Jacksonville was the most dangerous U.S. large city by bike/pedestrian fatality rate. In 2012, Jacksonville was the 2nd worst U.S. large city in bicycle/pedestrian fatality rate. In the last 10 years, Jacksonville was the 3rd most dangerous city in the U.S. to bike and walk.  (Dangerous By Design 2011).  Also, consider the statistics announced by Jacksonville, Florida Sheriff Rutherford about bicycling and walking dangers:

  • From 2011 to 2012, bicycle fatalities in Jacksonville increased 80%.  (March 1, 2013 Times-Union article quoting Sheriff Rutherford)
  • From 2011 to 2012, pedestrian fatalities increased 39%. (March 1, 2013 T-U article quoting Sheriff Rutherford.)

Today, as part of Bike To Work Day, Mayor Brown promised a commitment to improve bicycling safety in Jacksonville.  He minced no words in showing support for the connectivity of roads, increasing of bike lanes, and education of both cyclists and motorists. At the end of the festivities at City Hall, I also encouraged the Mayor’s Office to do more. In the below photo, I reminded the Mayor, with dozens of commuting cyclists present, that our bicycling fatality and injury rankings are deplorable and must improve.

Chris Burns and Mayor Alvin Brown of Jacksonville

In order to improve bicycling conditions around the state of Florida, many groups must coordinate their work. Local government must work with the FDOT and local transportation authorities to find solutions for safe bicycling.  Advocates must work together tirelessly to improve bicycle safety in Florida and around the country. Efforts should focus on the 5 E’s – education, engineering, enforcement, evaluation and encouragement.

In Jacksonville, we are seeing gradual success – the TPO has committed funding to a downtown bicycle plan; the City of Jacksonville and Mayor have secured our first full-time bicycle pedestrian coordinator; the City Council has created a Context Sensitive Streets Committee, which will create uniform design standards to improve bicycling on roads throughout Jacksonville; and the City of Jacksonville has now experienced a successful Bike to Work Day.

Today was a GOOD day for Bicycling in Jacksonville!

Chris Burns

Attorney Representing Injured Bicycle Riders
Chairperson – Jacksonville Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee
Board Member – Jacksonville Context Sensitive Streets Committee
Board Member – Florida Bicycle Association