Articles Posted in Bicycle Accidents

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Bicycling is a popular way to spend an afternoon or a day in Hollywood and across South Florida. It’s great exercise, a family-friendly activity, and a fun solo excursion, too. Bicycling lets us enjoy the sights, fresh air, sunshine, and natural beauty Florida is famous for and even allows us to head to spaces where cars are not allowed.

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It’s no wonder this form of activity is so popular.

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The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) reports that Florida is among the top states in the nation when it comes to pedestrian accidents. In fact, 27% of all traffic fatalities in the state involve pedestrian or bicycle accidents. Unfortunately, children and students can be especially vulnerable to these types of accidents, simply because they may bike or walk more often than adults.

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According to safety experts, there are many things that can be done to reduce pedestrian accidents and bicycle accidents in Miami and across Florida:

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May is National Bicycle Month, according to the League of American Bicyclists. It’s an important month for bikers in Hollywood and other parts of South Florida.

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Given the many green spaces and the mild weather in Florida, it’s not surprising that many Florida and Hollywood residents and tourists enjoy hopping on their bicycles to explore the coast and the cities of the state. Unfortunately, Florida has consistently ranked poorly when it comes to pedestrian and bicycle safety. If you want to cycle around South Florida, keep these safety tips in mind:

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Florida cities have been ranked among the worst in the nation for pedestrians and bicyclists, and three years ago the Florida Department of Transportation (DOT) responded with studies into road safety as well as potential design changes to make streets safer for all users. One of the changes Florida DOT is considering making is narrowing lanes. According to some experts, narrower lanes encourage drivers to slow down, which makes streets safer for pedestrians and bikers. In Miami Beach, Alton Road is one of the roads that is being redesigned with narrower lanes.

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Traffic accidents in Miami Beach and other cities can occur due to busy downtown cores and due to suburban street design, which is often created for cars rather than pedestrians. One problem is that downtown urban streets are often designed with the same features as highways, which just encourage drivers to go faster. Part of the reason is because much of Florida was developed during the boom in the first few decades of the 20th century. At the time, there was less of a focus on walking and bicycling and more of a focus on making streets accessible to cars. Some communities were built largely for car traffic, with less thought to other forms of traffic.

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Many studies and polls have identified South Florida as one of the worst regions in the country for bicycle and pedestrian fatalities. According to investigative reports by the Sun Sentinel and other media companies, the area is known as being largely a driving area, with a motorist and two pedestrians struck, on average, daily in the area. A recent poll ranked South Florida as the fourth most dangerous area for pedestrians. The top three regions for pedestrian fatalities were also all in Florida.

The Broward County Metropolitan Planning Office and others are trying to reduce the number of bicycle and pedestrian accidents in Hollywood and other areas. However, the process is slow. The planning office in Broward County has only one staff member dedicated to integrating pedestrian and bicycle safety ideas into major land-use projects in the area. And in order to integrate these ideas, it is important to ensure that the state Department of Transportation, county government, and municipalities all agree on the initiatives – which can be a challenge in and of itself.

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Even though the most dangerous intersections are known and authorities as well as city planners know what must be done to prevent the number of pedestrian and bicycle accidents in Hollywood and other South Florida areas, the executive director of the Metropolitan Planning Office in the area has stated that it may take between five to seven years to implement those ideas with the resources currently available.

Safety experts and the Metropolitan Planning Office understand that to prevent serious motor vehicle collisions in Hollywood and other cities, there are several things that need to be done in order to protect pedestrians and bicyclists:

1) Wider bike lanes and more bicycle lanes. Many bicycle accidents could be prevented if bicycles and cars did not have to share the road as often. Bicycle lanes move bikers safely out of the way of cars and make it easier for motorists to spot bicyclists. More bicycle lanes could help prevent accidents and wider bike lanes could give bicyclists more room to prevent cars from brushing bicycles.

2) Better street markings. Good street design and markings could prevent some motor vehicle collisions in Hollywood and Florida. Clear signs to delineate lanes, bike lanes, and crosswalks could help drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians, and other users of roads.

3) Better signs. Good signage is important in helping everyone get to their destinations safely. Good warning signs for known dangers, signs indicating bike lanes and other road attributes helps drivers and bicyclists make better decisions on the roads.

4) Education campaigns. Everyone needs to be reminded of safety tips once in a while. Education campaigns that help bring awareness to pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities and accidents could help curb right of way accidents in Hollywood as well as other types of pedestrian and bike collisions in Florida.

5) Lighted crosswalks. Crosswalks with good lighting ensure that drivers can see pedestrians and other users of the road at intersections.

6) Wider sidewalks and more sidewalks. Narrow sidewalks could push pedestrians out on the road and unfortunately some areas have no sidewalks on the road, forcing pedestrians to share the road to motorists.

7) New medians. Medians keep road traffic separate from pedestrians and help keep traffic traveling in different directions separate, helping prevent head-on crashes.

8) Better law enforcement. Unfortunately, even with good road design and more awareness of the problem some motorists will inevitably violate the rules of the road and put pedestrians and bicyclists at risk. Better law enforcement can pursue these dangerous drivers and potentially get them off the streets.

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We expect the roads in Homestead and surrounding Florida communities to be safe for driving. After all, if we live in the area our taxes go towards the maintenance of the infrastructure of the area. Unfortunately, in some cases car accidents in Homestead and surrounding areas are caused not by driver negligence but by poor road conditions.

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Road hazards can include:

1) Pot holes and rough roads. Uneven road surfaces and pot holes can cause a larger vehicle to lurch forward. On a high-speed road, this sort of unevenness can be enough to cause a larger vehicle to lose control. Of course, for motorcyclists and bicycles unevenness can be especially deadly and can lead to bike accidents.

2) Expansion joints. These joints connect a bridge to a road or can connect two parts of a road together, allowing for contraction and expansion. Expansion joints, however, also mean an uneven surface and can become slippery in wet weather. It is not uncommon for expansion joints to cause motorcycle accidents in Homestead and surrounding areas. On bridges, joints can be quite wide, which can be especially dangerous for motorcycles.

3) Gravel and unpaved roads. Gravel roads and other unpaved roads can easily develop ruts if not maintained properly. They can also become muddy or virtually impassable in bad weather, sometimes spraying up and obscuring windshields, causing visibility issues.

4) Debris on the roads. Debris can include cargo that falls from trucks, strips of rubber from tire blowouts, debris from road accidents, objects left from road work, rocks, and branches. Municipalities are expected to be able to remove dangerous obstacles from roadways quickly. When they do not, serious accidents can result.

5) Slippery surfaces. Slippery surfaces on roads can include painted surfaces (such as crosswalks), mud, wet leaves, standing water, spilled oil, and other dangers. While cars will generally not recognize the dangers, these seemingly small hazards can and do cause motorcycle and bicycle accidents in Homestead and across the state each year.

6) Edge breaks. Some roadways have lanes that are different heights. These uneven surfaces can be especially deadly for motorcyclists and bicycles.

7) Animals. Florida is filled with wildlife and sometimes animals run out in front of cars, causing serious accidents. Some areas are known for having high concentrations of wildlife, however, and cities may be able to place fencing or other barriers to protect both animals and drivers.

Cities are expected to keep their roads safe. When they do not and the negligence leads to a traffic collision, survivors may have a legal claim to seek compensation for injuries and losses. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to prove that road conditions played a role in some accidents. In some cases, even injured drivers are not aware that their cars slid on a slippery surface or encountered another road hazard.

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Unfortunately, Florida is not known for being especially pedestrian-friendly or bicycle-friendly. Despite the wonderful weather, many people choose to get around by car rather than by foot or bicycle and this has resulted in many pedestrian and bicycle accidents in Hollywood and across the state.

Florida laws, however, have been passed to make the streets safer for everyone. For example, the law requires motorists to stay at least three feet away from bicyclists. They are also supposed to treat bicycles like other cars on the roads, giving them their own lane in areas where a separate bike lane is not provided.

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Unfortunately, not all motorists follow the law and many safety experts say that motorist aggression and negligence leads to many serious car collisions in Hollywood involving bicycles. Common causes for these accidents include:

•Failure to yield right of way
•Trying to squeeze by bicycles rather than waiting for bicycles to pass
•Trying to share lanes with bicyclists
•Tailgating
•Entering bicycles lanes
•Drunk driving
•Distracted driving
Better enforcement of driving rules and better education of drivers could help reduce traffic accidents in Hollywood and other communities. In the meantime, bicyclists can take a few steps to reduce their own risk of collisions and injuries:

1) Always wear a helmet. For bicyclists in Hollywood, brain injuries are one of the leading causes of bicycle-accident fatalities. Wearing a helmet can greatly improve your chances of surviving a crash. It is important to wear one each time you hop on your bike, even if you are just going a short distance. Buy a quality, well-fitted helmet and wear is properly each time. Browse until you find a helmet you like. If you don’t like the look of traditional helmets, there are now invisible helmets that fit around the neck.

2) Stay visible. Motorists may not be looking for bikes and may not notice you, so do all you can to make yourself seen. That may include wearing highly-visible clothing, especially at night or in bad weather. You can also make your bicycle more visible with lights and reflectors. Even with all these precautions, though, make eye contact with the motorists sharing the road with you – often, it is the best way to ensure that a motorist has really seen you.

3) Don’t assume that motorists will do the right thing.
Everyone on the road is expected to follow the law, but not everyone does. Unfortunately, many drivers follow too closely behind bikes, run red lights, and take other risks. When you are on your bike, you are more vulnerable, so it is even more important to drive defensively and to consider the movements and actions of the drivers around you.

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Bicycling is a great exercise. While spin class is often seen as a great way to lose weight and get aerobic exercise, nothing quite beats the experience of bicycling outdoors, in the fresh air. South Florida residents in Homestead are especially lucky to have many beautiful residential streets as well as a mild climate to enjoy. Unfortunately, Florida does not have a great reputation for bicycle safety. In fact, South Florida has for many years been rated one of the top areas of the country for fatal bicycle and pedestrian accidents.

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If you are bicycling for your health or for enjoyment, you will want to take a few steps to ensure that you avoid getting involved in a bicycle accident in Homestead:

1) Stay visible. You are more likely to be in a car or truck accident in Homestead if cars can’t see you. Unfortunately, many motorists are not looking for bicycles, and this oversight can easily lead to collisions. Make it as easy as possible for cars and trucks to see you. This means wearing light, reflective clothing and using lights and reflective stickers on your bicycle – especially if you’re bicycling at night or poor lighting conditions. Make eye contact with drivers, to ensure that they can see you.

2) Follow the rules of the road. Signal before turning and always drive with traffic. Obey traffic rules, just as you would if you were in a car. While bicycles are far more flexible than cars, keep in mind that motorists cannot see you if you are somewhere where they don’t expect it to be – such as driving off of a sidewalk onto the road or driving through a red light.

3) Choose your routes carefully. Where possible, drive on bicycle lanes or if you would like a relaxing bicycle ride, choose one of the many parks in Florida that have bicycle paths. Avoid areas with high volume, fast traffic and no bicycle lanes, especially if you will be bicycling at night.

4) Take bicycling as seriously as you take driving. Would you drive drunk? Would you drive while texting or driving distracted? Would you drive with headphones on? If you would not do it in a car, don’t do it while on a bicycle. Distracted driving, fatigued driving, and drunk driving in Homestead and other communities cause not only car accidents but bicycle accidents as well. Keep your entire focus on bicycling, especially if you are sharing the road with larger vehicles.

5) Wear a helmet. While a helmet will not help prevent a crash, it can help prevent serious head injuries if you are in Homestead bicycle accident. Wearing a helmet, safety experts agree, is one of the best ways to prevent head trauma and injury. Wear one every time you hop on your bicycle.

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While all Davie car accidents are frightening and can lead to serious accidents, collisions involving a car and a bicycle are often devastating. Since the cyclist is not enclosed, the size and car of a passenger car often leads to very serious or even fatal injury. In many cases, Davie bicycle accidents are caused by drivers who take risks or fail to pay attention. Fortunately, there are many things that drivers can do to prevent these types of accidents:

1) When passing cyclists, give them plenty of room. At least a few feet reduces the risk of collisions.

2) Pass cyclists quickly. While drivers may think that they are being courteous by passing cyclists slowly, it can actually make cyclists nervous and can cause a collision. Simply give cyclists plenty of room and pass as you would a car.

3) Check for cyclists before opening a car door. If you are opening your car door where cyclists are riding, a bicyclist may not notice the car door in time to stop, and the collision is enough to seriously injure or kill a cyclist.

4) Do not honk at bicyclists unless absolutely necessary. This can startle someone on a bicycle and can lead to a collision. Bicyclists can generally hear a much larger vehicle, such as a car, behind them.

5) Get familiar with the signals bicyclists use when turning. In some instances, drivers are not aware of these signals and cannot prevent an accident because they cannot anticipate where bicyclists are headed.

6) Never drive distracted. Bicyclists are more flexible than motorists in that they can zip up behind a car quite quickly and can be hidden in a car’s blind spots. Driving distracted increases your risk of a Davie pedestrian accident, bicycle accident, and every other type of traffic accident.

7) Check your blind spots. Bicycles are small enough to hide in your blind spot, so check your blind spot.

8) Never drive drunk. Davie drunk driving accidents claim too many lives each year. These accidents are completely preventable, which makes them even more tragic. If you will be drinking, make sure you have a few plans for getting home safely.

9) Drive defensively. Driving defensively ensures that you anticipate the movements of other motorists, so that you can avoid a collision if necessary.

10) Treat bicyclists like cars. Never attempt to share a lane with bicyclists and make sure that you provide them with the same space and courtesy you would provide to any vehicle. Use signal lights and eye contact to ensure that bicyclists can see you when you change lanes, turn, or pass.

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According to a recent investigative report, very few New York City bicyclists killed or injured in car accidents ever get justice. In fact, in 2011 the Big Apple saw 21 bicyclist fatalities, but only two drivers were ever arrested in these cases. While similar numbers are not available for Miami, anecdotal evidence suggests that bicyclists in Florida also have a similar problem getting justice after an accident. There are many possible reasons for this:

1) According to some groups, including Transportation Alternatives, police are not tough enough on motorists. In many cases, budget cuts may mean that police have few resources for bicycle accidents. In 2008, bicyclist Rasha Shamoon was struck and killed by a motorist who had six prior traffic infractions. Despite this, police did not conduct accident reconstruction, made errors in the police report, and concluded that Shamoon was at fault. The bicyclist’s family took the case to court, where it was shown that Shamoon was not speeding, as police claimed, and the court found the driver 95% responsible for the accident.

2) Bicyclists are often assumed at fault. Some individuals assume that bicyclists take risks and are often at fault of accidents. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking can influence investigations into Miami traffic accidents that involve bicyclists.

3) There is a great disparity between bicycles and cars. In a Miami car accident involving two cars, the damage to both vehicles and parties can be comparable. In a Miami bicycle accident, however, the bicyclist is often killed or seriously injured, making it hard for that victim to provide their own statement of events during the investigation. As well, while such accidents often cause little damage to the car or truck, in some cases these accidents become hit and run accidents, making it harder to catch the driver and bring them to justice.

4) Bicyclists are not insured. In a Miami car accident involving two vehicles, insurance carriers need careful police reports and there are often insurance investigations as well. In a case involving a bicyclist, especially if the bicyclist is found at fault, there may not be the same investigation unless the bicyclist’s family works with a Miami personal injury attorney and filed a civil suit.

5) Laws. Since cars are so prevalent, laws have been passed to ensure that not all traffic violations are criminalized. This can make it harder for bicyclists and their families to argue that an accident was in fact vehicular manslaughter or another serious crime.

If you are a bicyclist injured in a Miami traffic accident, it is important to speak with an experienced Miami personal injury attorney about your case as soon as possible. A good attorney can gather evidence about your case and can investigate the cause of the accident so that you are not held at fault if the collision was caused by a motorist. A good attorney can also help you understand the steps you need to take to pursue fair compensation. It is common for a Miami bicycle accident to be very expensive. In addition to high medical bills, there are often transportation costs and lost pay to consider. A good attorney can help you understand the true costs of your injuries and can work with you as you pursue justice.

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