Fort Lauderdale provides unprecedented opportunities for outdoor recreation – its sunny climate and breathtaking scenery make it the perfect place to ride a bike. Whether you’re commuting by bike or you simply like the opportunity for physical activity, bicycling is a common way for Fort Lauderdale residents to get around. Unfortunately, Fort Lauderdale is also a dangerous city for cyclists – In fact, the entire state of Florida is one of the most dangerous states in the country for those traveling by bike, according to the Florida Pedestrian Index. Proving negligence in a bicycle accident can sometimes be difficult – it’s best to have an experienced Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident attorney on your side to help secure the compensation you deserve.
How A Fort Lauderdale Bicycle Accident Attorney Can Help
If you or a loved one have incurred an injury in a bike accident due to someone else’s negligence on the roadway, and you feel like you’re running out of money and options – there’s still hope. The experienced Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident lawyers at Kelley/Uustal are committed to helping injury victims find peace and security.
Fort Lauderdale area residents face a higher degree of risk while riding bicycles than in many other parts of the country. Bicycling is a popular choice for those who want to save money and cut down on pollution and fossil fuel consumption while exercising. Unfortunately, Fort Lauderdale consistently reports higher than average pedestrian and bicycle fatality rates and has the highest bike crash rate in the region.
Bicycle Accident Statistics in Fort Lauderdale
Sadly, 1 in 41 of Fort Lauderdale’s bike crashes result in death. Broward County is a leader in pedestrian fatalities in the state, second only to Miami Dade County. There are two main reasons bicyclists in our area are at higher risk than other areas:
- Arterial roadways
- City planners make roadways through town flat, fast, and wide to create minimal disruption to traffic during peak hours. Unfortunately, these are also our city’s main streets, and they are surrounded by apartment complexes and shopping centers. Planners often let bicyclists’ needs take a backseat when designing these roads. According to federal data, more than half of our nation’s bicycle and pedestrian fatalities take place on arterial roadways.
- High-speed roads
- Main veins also have higher posted speed limits to encourage traffic flow. Roads with posted speeds of more than 40 miles per hour account for 62% of all pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities.
Only 25% of Fort Lauderdale residents are satisfied with area biking safety – and for good reason. Our beautiful town of Fort Lauderdale is one of the worst cities in the nation for bicycle safety, ranking fifth in cyclist fatalities. Between 2009 and 2014, there were 14 total bicycle crash fatalities, with 568 additional injuries. Because of the violent nature of these accidents, crashes involving bikes tend to have a 3% fatality rate, compared with the 0.04% fatality rate for accidents involving just vehicles.
Common Negligent Behaviors That Often Cause Bicycle Accidents
Bicyclists can incur injury in virtually limitless scenarios. Some accident scenarios and injuries, though, are more common than others. Here are some examples:
- Distracted Driving or Riding:
- Distracted driving is a threat to everyone on the road, but it’s especially dangerous to bicyclists and pedestrians. While even inattentive drivers may reflexively be aware of other vehicles, they’re not as accustomed to checking for bicycles. A simple error in judgment or failure to check a blind spot can lead to a lifetime of consequences. Drivers aren’t the only ones who can operate distracted. These days, even bicyclists are guilty of checking their smartphones or mobile devices while riding. For your safety, always keep your eyes on the road.
- Vehicle speed plays a dominant role in bicycle crashes, but so can bicycle speed. Always judge your speed based on weather conditions, road conditions, and the surrounding terrain. If you’re traveling too fast, you might not see a hazard in the road until it’s too late.
- No Designated Bike Lanes:
- Many pedestrians don’t like to share the sidewalk with bicyclists, and the law requires motor vehicle operators to “share the road” with others. This means that drivers should leave at least three feet between their vehicle and bicyclists. Bike lanes help rectify the dangers of sharing the road with other drivers, but not all area roadways have them. Never assume a driver will give you enough space, and ride as close to the side of the road as possible.
- Accidents at Intersections:
- Almost 20% of all Fort Lauderdale bike and pedestrian crashes occur at intersections. There’s a lot of activity at intersections – cars may turn right or left or merge lanes. These are all risk factors for a bike accident. While bicyclists must obey traffic lights and follow the rules of the road, drivers often forget to check for them, which can lead to disaster. One of the most common scenarios is a car turning right into a bicyclist who’s crossing at a green light. Use crosswalks whenever possible and signal appropriately when making a turn.
Accidents in Parking Lots, Parking Structures, and Driveways
Bicyclists are also vulnerable to injury when they’re traveling through parking lots or parking structures. One possible scenario occurs when drivers forget to check their blind spot when backing up, hitting the bicyclist. While backup cameras help prevent this situation, they don’t always work well in places like parking garages, which are dark even in the daytime. To prevent injury, wear reflective clothing and bike with a defensive approach.
Bicycle injuries can vary widely based on the nature of the accident, ranging from broken bones to catastrophic injuries with lifelong consequences. Some of the most common injuries include:
- Even in minor bicycle accidents, expect severe bruising in the soft tissues of the skin. In more serious bicycle crashes, you might even experience organ bruising or internal bleeding. These may be life threatening.
- It’s not uncommon to experience broken bones after a bike accident, especially at higher speeds. The force of flying off a bike or hitting a car can create broken bones of the extremities or ribs. In some cases, broken ribs can even puncture lung tissue or other organs, which creates life-threatening conditions.
- Catastrophic injuries
- When an injury or series of injuries seriously disrupts your quality of life or ability to complete everyday tasks, it’s referred to as a “catastrophic injury.” These are unfortunately common side effects of a bicycle accident.
- Injuries to the brain or spinal cord
- Traumatic brain injury and concussion may occur after a bike accident, even if you’re wearing a helmet. Violent accidents may even disturb the spinal cord, which can lead to serious conditions, such as total or partial paralysis.
Available Compensation in a Bicycle Accident Case
Bike accidents can lead to mounting medical bills and other financial woes. Diagnostic testing, surgery, and other forms of treatment can easily run into tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills. Serious injuries also require long periods of missed work, which might make you worry about your financial future. A personal injury lawsuit helps compensate for these bills and can provide the financial security you need to heal. A Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident lawyer can help you with questions regarding damages. There are a few different types of compensation, or “damages” in personal injury law:
- Economic damages: provide relief for the tangible costs of accidents. For example, they will reimburse for medical expenses and lost wages, and may pay for the costs of rehabilitation services. In the event of disabling injury, they may even provide funds for handicap accommodation.
- General damages: seek to compensate the victim for the immaterial losses of the accident. This includes loss in life quality, pain, suffering, and the mental anguish associated with the experience.
- Punitive Damages: In some cases, such as when a driver is grossly negligent (i.e., operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol), you may be able to collect punitive damages. These provide punishment to the defendant and discourage the same behavior in the future.
How Safe/Suitable are Broward County Streets for Bicyclists?
With dozens of bicycle accidents, injuries, and deaths happening in Broward County each year, it’s important for bikers to learn the safest streets in the area for vulnerable road users. Some streets see more collisions between vehicles and bicyclists than others due to factors such as speed limit, roadway signage, and traffic volume. Analyzing the overall safety of Broward County streets can help identify which are most suitable for bicyclists and pedestrians.
The Broward Bike Map
The Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization takes steps to make the county’s streets safer and more biker-friendly. Part of its initiative is to analyze local roads in terms of how safe they are for exposed bicyclists. The Organization created a Broward Bike Map tool to help bicyclists map the safest routes to their destinations. The map has two main categories bikers can choose between: suitability and facility type. Suitability describes how comfortable the road is for cyclists, while facility type describes the road structure available.
Organizing the data based on “suitability” displays a color-coded map of all bike-able routes in Broward County. Dark blue means the road is easy for bikers, light blue is moderate, yellow is difficult, and red is very difficult. The map is overwhelmingly yellow; most of Broward County is difficult for bicyclists to navigate. There is also much more red than there is blue or light blue. The area surrounding Fort Lauderdale has many red lines, for “very difficult” bicycling.
Changing the map to the “facility type” setting shows a different set of colors. Dark blue signifies bike lanes, where it will be easiest for bicyclists to traverse the streets. Light blue represents buffered bike lanes. Yellow marks paved and rural shoulders as well as wide outer lanes. Silver roads do not offer bicycle facilities, while green shows the multi-use lanes. Again, the area around Fort Lauderdale is primarily silver – showing that local bicyclists don’t have a lot of safe roadway options.
Which Streets Are Safest and the Most Dangerous for Broward County Bicyclists?
A 2017 street safety report from the Florida Department of Transportation disclosed that Broward was the second-most dangerous county in Florida for bikers. This conclusion came from an analysis of five years of crash data. Knowing which streets are the most dangerous in terms of speed limit, roadway width, number of lanes, curbs, railroad crossings, and lack of bicycle facilities can go a long way toward avoiding an accident and injuries as a bicyclist in Broward County. The following routes appear to be the safest in the area for bikers:
- Wiles Road, between Lyon’s Road and the Florida Turnpike
- South Dixie Highway, from West Hillsboro Blvd. to Northeast 48th Street
- Northwest 70th Ave, 80th Ave, 100th Ave, 82nd Street, and 91st Street
- Southwest 112th Ave
- South Nob Hill Road
- Inverrary Blvd
Several other “easy” routes are suitable for bikers as well, based on the map. The easiest routes tend to have lower speed limits, less traffic, wider lanes, and bicycle facilities available. Unfortunately, the list of difficult and very difficult roads is much longer in Broward County. Some roads to avoid include:
- Federal Highway
- East Commercial Blvd
- East Oakland Park Blvd
- West and East Sunrise Blvd
- West and East Broward Blvd
- South University Drive
These roads are all red on the map, marking them as very difficult for bicyclists. Avoid them for an easier and potentially safer commute. Next time you need to take your bike somewhere, check the interactive map to see if you can take an easy route with available bicycle lanes. The city of Fort Lauderdale has been testing out new bicycle lanes to further improve bicyclist safety. Hopefully the future for Broward County bicyclists won’t be as perilous as it is now.
Contact our Fort Lauderdale injury attorneys to schedule your free initial consultation or to learn more about our contingency-fee legal services.