When the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported back in 2012 that 726 bike riders were killed and another 49,000 individuals were injured in bicycle accidents across the U.S., South Florida officials took note. Just a few years later, Miami-Dade County unveiled its Protected Bike Lanes Demonstration Plan, which incorporates several designated bicycle lanes with so-called “bike buffer” zones intended to protect riders. Expanding the space between motor vehicles and bicycles has been proven to decrease collisions and save lives.
While there can be no doubt that bike buffer zones are effective, they will never entirely eliminate the risk of collisions with motor vehicles. A Miami bicycle accidents attorney can assist with your legal options if you were hurt, but an overview on protected bicycle lanes may help you protect yourself.
How Buffer Zones Protect Bicycle Riders
The term “buffer” refers to the space around a bike rider as he or she is traveling in and around motorized vehicle traffic. In a designated bike lane in Miami, this zone may be painted green or otherwise marked to let motorists know to keep at least three feet away when passing. Recently, Miami Beach has even implemented the first parking protected bike lane in South Florida, which uses parked vehicles as the barrier for the zone itself.
Experts contend that bike buffer zones are more effective than simply widening existing bicycle lanes: Cyclists are still vulnerable when adjacent to moving traffic. Plus, the buffer makes it less likely that bikers will be injured when they “get doored” by motorists exiting their vehicles.
Safety Tips for Preventing Bicycle Accidents
Wearing a helmet is a recommendation that you have heard many times, but it bears repeating. Almost 75% of fatal bike collisions involve a head injury, and 97% of riders who are killed were not wearing a helmet. In addition:
- Always keep in mind the Florida’s rules of the road DO apply to bicycle riders. Comply with these regulations and all traffic signage.
- When in a designated bike lane, ride on the side away from traffic.
- Never ride within the bike buffer zone unless you are turning or passing through it.
- Conduct a quick inspection of your bike every time you head out.
- Wear brightly colored clothing or items made with reflective fabric.
- Avoid riding in a skirt or sandals, which can get caught in spokes and pedals.
- Do your best to balance weight when carrying a bag or other load.
Speak to a Miami Bicycle Accident Lawyer About Possible Remedies
Bike buffer zones are a good start as far as minimizing the number of bicycle collisions on South Florida streets, but the risks remain as long as you are sharing the road with careless drivers. If you were injured in such an incident, our team at Gerson & Schwartz, PA is prepared to fight to get the compensation you deserve. To learn how we can assist with your options, please contact our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL to schedule a free consultation.