The Tampa Bay Times recently reported on the alarming increase in bicycle accidents occurring in Pinellas County. The number of deaths resulting from these accidents increased from 14 in 2010 to 21 in 2011. According to the Medical Examiner’s Office, Pinellas County’s combined deaths of pedestrians, as well as bicyclists, nearly doubled in 2021 from 49 to 85.
Pinellas County has the highest death rate among metro regions in the US, with 7 cyclist deaths per 100,000 residents in the Tampa Bay area. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), the leading cause of fatal car-bicycle crashes (38%) is the failure to yield the right of way. Other factors include making incorrect turns, not using lights, and wearing dark clothes.
Pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists share the same space in many counties. The busy thoroughfares serve two purposes: they are used to connect cars with interstates, and also as local streets that lead to homes and businesses. The roads are dangerous for cyclists, as there are many places where they can be hit by vehicles, either behind, in front, or on the sides. Florida has a large elderly population and an influx of tourists that are unfamiliar with the local traffic patterns. Pinellas County had 6.6 million visitors stay overnight in 2018.
Climate and topography are two factors that contribute to these unenviable stats. Pinellas County has a good climate and flat terrain that encourages walking and cycling. Urban streets are also constructed in a way that encourages speeding, despite the 45 mph limit, particularly during the period of pandemic traffic slowdown.
Many of these fatalities are caused by hazardous situations, such as:
A mobile home park can be found at 66th Street, Park Boulevard. It is directly across the street from a Publix supermarket.
- Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard
- South Belcher Road, Clearwater
- Park Boulevard and Starkey Road
- 66th Street and Ulmerton Road
The county also acknowledges that poor lighting is a problem, particularly in minority and low-income neighborhoods where people are more likely to walk and bike. Downtown St. Pete has fewer deaths and serious injuries compared to other parts of the County because it is more walkable and slower. In these areas, drivers tend to be more cautious.
The Pinellas County Board of Commissioners has been addressing these issues with possible solutions, such as building roundabouts that reduce speed and increase traffic safety. They have also instituted a program named Vision Zero, which aims to expand public education, engineering, and enforcement throughout the county. Plans are in place to remove a lane on Drew Street, Clearwater, to make more room for pedestrians and bicycles. These projects will make a difference in the long run, but they require time and money to plan.
If you or someone close to you has been injured by a negligent driver who caused a bicycle accident in Clearwater or St. Petersburg or anywhere else in Pinellas County in Florida, the help of an experienced bicycle injury attorney may be crucial for your case.
This post was written by Kelly-Ann Jenkins of Jenkins Law P.L. Kelly-Ann is an insurance claim Lawyer. The information on this site is not intended to and does not offer legal advice, legal recommendations, or legal representation on any matter. Hiring an attorney is an important decision, which should not be based on advertising. You need to consult an attorney for legal advice regarding your situation.
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