Have Heard Florida Leads the Nation in Cycling Deaths? Could Cycling Be Safer Than Reported?

Video Transcription:

Jim Dodson: Good morning! It's Jim Dodson, the Florida Bike Guy. So, are you afraid or concerned about all you hear about how dangerous it is to be a recreational cyclist in Florida? I want to talk to you a minute about why those statistics really don't apply to us.

You know, there's just traditionally the people that study the data on crashes in Florida, and now it's across the nation, have reported us as being the number one state in the country, unfortunately, that leading in cycling deaths and injuries. And, in fact, our top metropolitan areas in Florida consistently rank in the top five nationally for cycling deaths and injuries. And it can really make you wonder whether it's worth the risk of being on the road. You know, I hear this all the time with cyclists that I talk to and places where we do our presentations.

But there's been a study that was done, actually in the metropolitan planning organization in Orlando when they were doing their 2003, 2004 evaluation. Cited some data from analytics company that they deal with, Analytics Failures Inc. about-- or Failure Analytics Inc. about if you remove from the cycling data that we are all are so familiar with, people who are drunk, people who are using their bicycle at night without a light, people who are riding in violation of all the traffic signals.

Riding becomes quite-- they did a study comparing all modes of transportation in the number of millions of hours comparison, fatalities per million hours. And really airline travel is the safest. School bus travel comes in second. You know, we're all on school buses, but for the kids that are on there we know that's a good thing. And look at that, bicycling comes in third. Well ahead of automobiles. We're almost twice as safe to be on a bike as a recreational cyclist than it is to ride or drive an automobile. And I think that's an encouraging statistic. You know, this data is actually 25 years old, but I don't know that-- I'm looking actually for anything that might update it, but I think the same principles apply today. The numbers may have changed in terms of the number of people on the road and what have you, but I am confident that the data and the inference that we get from it applies to us today. And I think that it can be encouraging for us as cyclists that the sport is not as dangerous as the press tends to want to make it. They never get below the surface.

But there's things that we can do as cyclists to actually make those numbers better for us. You know, this data is just looking at all cycling fatalities. It didn't look at the individual characteristics of safe cycling and how that might affect this data. So, if you've heard me talking, you've listened to my live stream, you know that I'm all about increasing the odds of getting on your ride, enjoying it, and getting home safely. I'm about anything that's going to raise the likelihood that you're going to get home without incident, okay? Starts with wearing a helmet to prevent concussions and what have you. But, in terms of visibility, in terms of being seen by drivers on the road there's definitely things we can do that increase the data percentages in our favor dramatically.

There was a study done in Denmark, that I have cited and things that I've written about and talked about earlier this year, that they studied people who wore bright fluorescent, yellow jackets for a year and they found that just wearing a fluorescent jacket reduced the incidents of being hit by another cyclist or an automobile by 50%, okay? There's other data that support the same reduction in the likelihood of being hit by a vehicle by nearly 50% by wearing, by using bright, running lights in the front and tail lights in the rear. So, just adding those two things to our daily safe practices on the bike, will move this information for us, this data, this incidents of fatalities and injuries I think further down the line in terms of dangers. I think it puts us way-- actually puts us way up the ahead of where we were.

So, I think, you know, one of the other things that I'm talking about recently is biomotion. You know, that the ability of the eye, of the driver, to spot us and recognize us as a cyclist increases when we put fluorescent colors below the knee. You know, leggings, fluorescent socks, fluorescent shoes. It's the motion of the bicycle peddling that identifies you as a bicyclist to the driver.

The other thing that we can do and I've talked about recently is add lights behind your ankles, okay? I was up at Wheel Works in Winter Garden yester- or two days ago, doing a presentation to a great group of people that Dennis put together up there. And a big shout out to Dennis and his crew for welcoming us to Wheel Works it was a great evening. But he had a little light, I think it's made by Mog, actually I may be not pronouncing that right Dennis. But, it just clipped on the back of your socks and it was really, really bright. And it was inexpensive. I walked out of there last-- that evening without purchasing it. I forgot about it. Our-- we ran over and they were closing up when we got through. But adding a ankle light behind your ankles just increases the odds of being seen yet another step up. And for me, it's like anything I can do that's going to raise the likelihood that I'm going to be seen and recognized by a driver, I'm all for it.

You remember, I talk about this frequently, drivers are looking for things that are going to be a danger to them. They're scanning the horizon when they're driving. They're wanting to know when they can make that left turn into the parking lot. When they can make a right turn onto their street. All they're looking for consciously are automobiles and dangers for them as a driver. In the midst of all of that, you've got us approaching or going in the same direction on a bicycle. So, we have to remember constantly, that we need to separate ourselves from all of the visual clutter that's bombarding the driver's senses. To pull ourselves away from that clutter and stand out so that they can see us before they make that split decision to make a left turn or make a right turn or proceed onto a road. And everything we talk about, everything that I'm telling you, in my view increases the likelihood that you're going to be seen by this driver who is consciously not looking for you but can't help but see you if you do these things that I'm talking about.

Now, I think it's always possible to get in front of the wrong car. You know, that's always possible. We can do everything right and there's a likelihood that somewhere along the line someone's going to get in front of the wrong car. And we've seen it happen this year, tragically in some accidents. But, for the day in and day out cyclists, I think we can get out there and enjoy our sport in confidence if we're consciously trying to raise the odds of being seen.

When the unexpected happens, I'm here for you. If you've been involved in a cycling crash, know someone's been involved in a cycling crash, it doesn't matter what the circumstances were, who was found fault. You may have been involved in a car accident or know someone who was involved in a car accident. Call us. I'm in Clearwater. We represent clients throughout the state. I welcome your inquiries. If I can help you, I'll tell you. If I think you can help yourself, I'll tell you that. So, we're here for you. I've got a commitment to representing cyclists in every situation that I can help you in. Or give you information that will help you understand what you need to know about the situation you face.

We've got a free resource for you today. We do an insurance review and you can see it on our website. Kati's running the bit.ly link on the bottom of the screen there. So, I'd be happy if you'll just send me your declarations page on your auto insurance declaration. I'll be happy to tell you my view on whether I think you're adequately insured or not. Give you some suggestions on maybe what you can do to help you protect yourself more and be protected against those drivers who don't have enough insurance.

So, that's it today from Jim Dodson, the Florida Bike Guy. I appreciate your watching this today. If I can ever help you, let me know. Take care!

Jim Dodson
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A Florida injury lawyer, family man and avid cyclist who clients have trusted for over 25 years.