Over the last year, our Miami personal injury lawyers have discussed the dangers associated with bicycling in Florida. Last September, 24-year-old bicyclist Jacob Landis was severely injured after being struck by a hit-and-run driver while riding his bicycle in the final leg of a cross-country cycling trip in Polk County, Florida. In October, a young couple, Rob Lemon and Hilary Michalak, died after being struck by a motorist while riding their tandem bike on the Memorial Causeway in Clearwater, Florida.
Florida a Dangerous Place for Cyclists
According to report by the NHTSA found that Florida’s bicyclist fatality rate consistently exceeded that of the rest of the United States and often ranked highest among the states. In 2011, Florida bicycle fatality rates were almost triple the national average, and, between 2010 and 2011, the bicycle fatality rate increased from 0.40 fatalities per 100,000 persons, to 0.63. In the same year, Florida made up only six percent of the U.S. population in 2011, but accounted for 17.4 percent of all U.S. bicycle fatalities.
Now, according to a new study published by the American Journal of Public Health, the number of traumatic brain injuries related to bicycling accidents has dramatically increased over the last several years and is expected to continue doing so. The cause of the increase? Bike-sharing programs that have become increasingly popular across the country, including south Florida. Researchers that conducted the study poured through data on serious brain injury treatments in trauma centers located in five cities, including Miami Beach, twelve months before and after bike-sharing programs were implemented.
The study concluded that bike-sharing programs are associated with a nearly fifteen percent (15%) increase in the risk of bicycle-related head injuries, while in control cities (those without such programs) there was no increase in bicycle head injuries. The study, published in the latest issue of American Journal of Public Health, unfortunately confirms the fears of public health officials and bicycle safety advocates.
Researchers that participated in the study believe the cause of such an increase in head injuries is the fact that many bike-sharing programs don’t provide helmets to riders. According to Janessa Graves, lead author of the study, “The study basically confirmed our worries. Public bike-share initiatives are great wellness initiatives…[b]ut without providing helmets, we were concerned that we would see an increase in head injuries. And we did.” Many states have enacted helmet requirement laws for motorcycle riders, but have been reluctant to extend such mandates to bicyclists.
With ever-increasing traffic congestion and the tendency of Florida residents to ride bicycles or walk where they need to go, bicyclists are at greater risk than ever for being injured or killed in a traffic accident. If you, your family or friends have been involved an accident in which you sustained injuries, you may need legal representation to protect your right to compensation.
The Miami bicycle accident attorneys of Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. have extensive experience representing individuals who have been injured while riding a bike. If you or someone you know has been injured in automobile accident, contact the Miami injury attorneys of Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. today.