Two fatal bicycle accidents in two days have prompted bicycle safety advocates to remind everyone to be respectful on the road. As a Miramar bicycle accident attorney, I was pleased to see the reminder in the form of a Jan. 19 article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The fatal Broward County crashes took place on Jan. 4 and Jan. 5, both in the early morning hours. In response, bicycle advocates and local planners reminded drivers and bikers to treat one another with respect. Jeffrey Lynne, president of the board of directors for the South Florida Bike Coalition, said drivers should respect cyclists’ right to be on the road, and cyclists should return the favor by obeying traffic laws.
Little information was available on the fatal accidents earlier this month. A Plantation man was killed at about 5:45 a.m. on Jan. 4, in an area without a sidewalk or bicycle lane. The next day, a Wilton Manors man was killed crossing a road in Fort Lauderdale. Florida had the most bicycle accident deaths of any state in 2008, the article said, but Broward County has actually improved its rate of bicycle deaths since the 1990s. A spokesman for the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization said the most common bicycle accident configuration in Broward is when drivers turn right without checking for bicycles. He said drivers are legally required to give bicycles three feet at the right side of the road, although riders might choose to move over further if they think they’re slowing traffic. Lynne added that there are too many inexperienced bicyclists on the road, some of whom incorrectly believe that traffic signals don’t apply to them.
As a Cooper City bicycle accident lawyer, I hope both drivers and cyclists take this approach to heart. As a bicyclist quoted in the article said, most drivers move over when passing a bicycle. Those who don’t -- intentionally or because they failed to notice the bike -- are risking an accident for which they would be legally and financially responsible. Bicyclists are a lot like pedestrians in that an accident with a car is a very serious matter. Bicycle accident injuries include death and permanent brain damage, as well as less serious but still disabling injuries like broken bones. However, unlike pedestrians, bicyclists are supposed to share the roads with drivers, which means their risk of a crash is much greater. That’s why it’s so important for both bikers and drivers to be courteous and respect each other’s right to be on the road.