As a Florida bicycle accident lawyer, I was pleased to see in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel recently that Palm Beach County is working toward adding marked bicycle lanes to popular roads in the county. According to the article, bicycling advocates and county engineers are working together to identify which roads are most likely to carry substantial bike traffic and mark their shoulders with painted lanes designated for bicycles. This is described as a compromise; the county has opposed any bike lanes because it believes it would be obligated to maintain them, which it estimates would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
The article doesn't tell you this, but as a longtime South Florida resident and bicycle accident lawyer, I happen to know that many of these roads already have four-foot paved shoulders that were specifically intended for the use of bicyclists. The county's financial concerns have kept the lanes from being specifically marked as bike lanes, pitting the county against bicycle advocates who believe marked bike lanes promote both bike safety and greater use of bikes as transportation.
As a driver and a motorcyclist who has used South Florida roads for decades, I agree. Marked lanes promote bicycle safety by showing everyone on the road where they should be and discouraging either kind of vehicle from entering the other's lane. As a motorist, I appreciate knowing where I can expect to see bicycles. For the same reasons, a marked bike lane helps beginning bicyclists feel more confident about how they ride in traffic -- and where they can turn to find more bike lanes.
As to the cost, I don't have any expertise on street sweeping -- but as a personal injury lawyer, I can certainly tell you that the county is not legally responsible for the injuries of a biker who didn't watch for debris in the road. We all have a basic legal responsibility to take reasonable care on the road, and part of that responsibility is to avoid obvious hazards. Another is to avoid harming others, and that's where marked bicycle lanes could help -- by giving motorists clear directions on how to "share the road" and avoid causing a serious Florida bicycle accident.
Bicycle accidents can be very serious, causing broken bones, brain injuries and even wrongful deaths. We should do everything we can to prevent them. But if you are a bicyclist hit by a car or truck in South Florida, you should contact my firm, Cohn, Smith & Cohn, to discuss recovering money for your injuries in a Florida bicycle accident lawsuit.