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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — In 2012, more than 700 bicyclists were killed by drivers in the United States. Each year, we report on many South Florida bicyclists being hit some with fatal results. But in these accidents, is it all the driver’s fault? And what is being done to keep bicyclists and drivers safe on our streets?
There’s a war being waged on our South Florida streets between bicyclists and drivers. Which side are you on?
“They all cut in front of you and you constantly have to be on guard. Yes it’s very frustrating,” said one Key Biscayne resident.
Bicyclists consume the road sometimes in both directions. They even take red lights but sometimes, drivers aren’t any better.
“Every time I go out on the road, I am almost hit,” said Maria Luisa De Jesus, an avid bicyclist.
Drivers get too close to bicyclists, speed by them, and sometimes even hit them. That’s what happened to Maria Luisa. She was hit by a driver a few years ago. “Thank God there were no ruptures or broken bones but I motivated.”
That motivation led her to create a yearly bike ride called “The Ride of Silence” in honor of bicyclists injured or killed by drivers and in South Florida there are a lot of them.
Between 2003 and 2012, 1,539 pedestrians and bicyclists were killed.
So it’s not much of a surprise that South Florida has been ranked the fourth most dangerous metro area for pedestrians and bicyclists in a new study by Smart America Growth.
But who is at fault for these accidents? According to Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose Pepe Diaz, who is also an avid bicyclist, it’s not always the drivers to blame.
“You have many cyclists that obey the law and do things right and do things safe but there are groups that don’t.”
CBS4’s Vanessa Borge witnessed it firsthand. She rode alongside a group of bicyclists which started in South Miami and went all the way into Key Biscayne. Bicyclists took red lights, which is illegal and also took over three lanes on the Rickenbacker Causeway, which is also illegal.
“That is disobeying the law. You can’t do that. The law states you can be in the lane that is immediate to the right. There are 3 lanes there. It’s not for them to take up all three lanes,” said Commissioner Diaz.
But that is just one group of bicyclists giving a bad name to the rest who do abide by the rules of the road. One south Florida organization is trying to educate new riders. The Everglades Bike Club meets at Miami City Hall in Coconut Grove every Saturday morning. They teach rookie bicyclists the proper signs and rules of the road.
More education for amateur riders is imperative to keep both bicyclists and drivers safe.
The County is also making changes to ensure drivers slowdown in bike zones as well. There are reduced speed limits posted on flashing electronic signs and they’ve added more police officers to patrol the Rickenbacker Causeway.
“Do I sit easy? No. Is it costly? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes, because our citizens need that safety so they can also participate health wise and doing the things they like to do to know without the fear of getting ran over,” said Commissioner Diaz.
Commissioner Diaz is also proposing a resolution called “complete streets” in Wednesday’s county commission meeting.
It will potentially help create safer roadways for drivers and bicyclists to share.
By law, bicycles are considered a slow moving vehicle, meaning, drivers, they are allowed to be there.
But bicyclists you have to abide by the laws to keep you and South Florida drivers safe as well.
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