Is Pinellas County, Florida really the most dangerous place to bicycle in America? According to an article published by the Wall Street Journal on September 25, 2018, based upon their analysis of data, they came to this conclusion. Specifically, they stated that Pinellas County, Florida has the highest bicyclist death rate in the Tampa Bay metro area. Based upon their comparisons, this was the highest death rate of any United States metro area.
This classification and article by the Wall Street Journal raised the concern of local news outlets. After being published, the Tampa Bay Times reviewed this classification by taking their own look at the data. In doing so, Tampa Bay Times reviewed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which was reportedly the same source used by the Wall Street Journal, for the time period of 2012-2016. While the Wall Street Journal reviewed a ten-year period, based upon the Tampa Bay Times review of the 2012-2016 data, they were able to determine Florida was the deadliest state for bicyclists in 2016, having more than twice the national rate of bicycle fatalities. However, when comparing counties, Pinellas came in third behind Pasco and Hillsborough for bicycle death rates. The Tampa Bay Times went so far as to contact a Wall Street Journal spokesman regarding these inconsistencies. The Wall Street Journal representative maintained the accuracy and reliability of its reporting, however, did not address specific questions as to how the rankings were developed.
The Wall Street Journal and Tampa Bay Times articles are certainly apropos to St. Petersburg’s redevelopment of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Street North. The City of St. Petersburg has started work on reducing the size, or “slimming down”, two miles of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Street North from four lanes down to three lanes of traffic, this slimming down will make room for bike lanes on each side of the road. The city has compiled an additional list of projects it would like to move forward with over the next 20 years, some of these potential changes relate to:
- Park Street
- Central Avenue
- 16th Street from 18th Avenue South to 62nd Ave North
- 22nd Avenue South between 49th Street and 37th Street
- 9th Avenue between 66th Street and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Street North
Regardless of whether the Wall Street Journal’s article was accurate or not, there is no doubt that Pinellas County and Florida as a whole are more dangerous for bicyclists when compared to the rest of the country. One factor not directly addressed by either article is the fact that Florida has more days during the year which are appropriate for cycling when compared to other states. This simple statistical factor may account for the increased number of bicycle deaths in Florida; however, safety must always be the number one priority for cyclists and motorists. If you are among the many people who choose to bicycle on Pinellas County or Florida roads, consider the following safety tips:
- Always protect your head, wear a helmet.
- Stay visible to other drivers. Use lights when biking at night or in low light conditions.
- Be predictable- act like a car.
- Always go with the flow of traffic.
- Obey all traffic laws and lights.
- Don’t ride distracted.
Probably one of the easiest tips for motorists to avoid collisions with bicyclists is to always look twice before initiating a change of direction with your vehicle. Remember to look twice and save a life.
St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid and Douglas are partners at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., and specialize in helping bicycle accident victims throughout the St. Petersburg and Southwest Florida areas. If you’ve been involved in a bicycle accident, be sure to immediately call law enforcement. This will enable law enforcement and emergency personnel to assess any injuries which you may have and address all the pertinent information gathering required during such an accident. After your accident, contact St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorney’s McQuaid and Douglas at Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., to have them help guide you through your recovery process after your cycling accident. You can rest assured that they will fight for your rights and to help you recover monetary compensation for the damages in which you are entitled to. Use our free consultation service today to get started on receiving the settlement that is rightfully yours.