Statistically, Florida is among the most dangerous states for bicyclists. The only states more dangerous for bicyclists are South Carolina and Delaware.
A new Florida bike safety law will theoretically address this pervasive problem. On July 1, Governor Ron DeSantis signed CS/SB 950 into law to offer greater protection to bicyclists and pedestrians throughout the state.
Specific changes and updates CS/SB 950 makes to existing statutes include:
- Allowing the driver of a vehicle to make a right turn while passing a bicyclist only if the bicyclist is a minimum of 20 feet from the intersection — the bicyclist must generally be far enough away for the driver to make the turn without endangering them
- Adding bicycle safety questions to the bank of questions used for driver’s license exams in Florida
- Allowing bicyclists riding in groups of 10 or fewer to proceed as a group through an intersection after coming to a full stop — and requiring motorists to let one group past before proceeding
- Making no-passing zones inapplicable to motorists driving to the left of center to avoid a bicyclist, as long as motorists allow for at least three feet of passing clearance
Motorists who fail to obey the new law will be subject to non-criminal moving violations.
History of the Bill and New Bike Safety Measures
The bill was originally introduced by state Representative Christine Hunschofsky (D-Parkland). Hunschofsky co-authored the bill with State Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation).
Hunschofsky states, “[b]y practicing road safety, we can lower the number of accidents in Florida…so that people can enjoy biking and walking outdoors safely. I am grateful that Governor DeSantis has signed this bill to make our roads safer for cyclists to enjoy our great outdoors.”
Passing this new law isn’t the only way Florida governments, agencies, and communities are striving to boost pedestrian and bicyclists safety. For instance, cities like Miami Beach and others throughout the state are adding new bike lanes.
Taking these steps will play a critical role in the safety of Floridians.
What Causes Most Bicycle and Pedestrian Accidents in Florida?
The total number of annual bicyclist fatalities in Florida is greater than that of any other state. Statistics indicate the rate of bicyclist deaths among Floridians over the age of 20 has tripled since 1975.
According to a study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, common causes of fatal bicycle accidents in Florida include:
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Failure to obey traffic laws
- Making an illegal or improper turn
However, it’s important that bicyclists also take steps to ensure their safety. The NHTSA study concluded that 10% of fatal bicycle accidents occur because a bicyclist was wearing clothing that was too dark to be seen at night.
The new law may also result in fewer pedestrian injuries and deaths. Currently, Florida ranks as the most dangerous state for pedestrians. Between 2010 and 2019, 1,675 pedestrians lost their lives in Florida accidents.
Factors that may account for this high rate of pedestrian deaths include
- High population density
- An aging population
- Intoxicated drivers
It’s only been a few weeks since the CS/SB 950 was signed into law. It’s not yet possible to determine how effective it will be at preventing bicyclist and pedestrian injuries and fatalities. However, many agree it represents a step in the right direction.