ORLANDO, Fla. — For years, Florida has been named the worst state in the country for pedestrian and bicyclist deaths.
The Florida Highway Patrol is currently investigating a crash that left a bicyclist dead near John Young Parkway and Oak Ridge Road Monday morning.
The death brings the total number of bicycle fatalities in Florida this year to 154, putting Florida on pace to finish the year with more than 160, which would once again make Florida the deadliest state for bicyclists.
It’s a problem even more pronounced in Orange County where deaths are already more than twice what they were last year even as the number of accidents has fallen, new data shows.
Kyle Markel of Kyles’ Bike Shop in Orlando says he’s an avid biker who used to regularly bike to and from work each day.
Markel says he gave that up years ago after one-too-many close calls.
“I just see a lot of cars that feel like we don’t belong on the road,” Markel said. “We say share the road, but sometimes you can’t share the road…there’s not enough space.”
Under Florida law bicyclists have to follow the same rules as drivers, but they also enjoy the same rights.
This means sharing the road, something that Markel says all too often doesn’t happen
“Motorists don’t feel like you should be there, and they run really close to you, and honk the horn, or they gun in right next to you,” Markel said. “I feel like I’m constantly looking over my shoulder.”
The state has been trying to make streets more pedestrian and bicycle friendly since 1984, but little has changed.
Part of the new federal infrastructure package set aside $6-billion for upgrades to existing streets to make them more accessible. It also requires every state to identify dangerous corridors and come up with solutions.
However, funding is only one part of the solution. As Markel notes, it’s just as important for cyclists to be aware of drivers as it is for drivers to be aware of cyclists.
“It is a shared thing, and sometimes cyclists feel like we’re being bullied…we have to compromise a little bit,” Markel said.
Cox Media Group