18 May 2020
Bicycle Boom: Tampa cycling accidents are on the rise
Posted By Darrigo & Diaz
You may have noticed something different about Tampa roadways in recent weeks: no traffic. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Bay traffic has dropped by 30 percent since coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown measures were introduced in mid-March. With fewer cars on the road, you would expect crashes to also be down; however, that’s not necessarily the case. There has been a spike in Tampa cycling accidents.
The sudden increase in Tampa cycling accidents not only coincides with quieter roads, but also with an increase in excessive traffic speeds and red light violations. Reports show that speeds on Tampa roadways have increased by at least 7 percent, and red light violations have increased by over 60 percent compared to the same time frame a year ago.
What local officials are referring to as, “open-road syndrome,” fewer cars on Tampa roadways are tempting some drivers to speed and indulge their Fast and Furious fantasies. This behavior coupled with an increase in recreational biking is leading to more Tampa cycling accidents.
In this blog, we’ve outlined recommendations from Consumer Reports (CR) regarding bike safety and etiquette.
How to protect yourself from cars while riding a bike in Tampa
Pre-ride safety check
Many of us may be riding our bikes for the first time in a while. Before heading out, make sure your bikes and equipment are in safe working condition.
Wearing a helmet reduces your chance of sustaining a head injury by 50 percent. But helmets don’t last forever. You should replace your helmet every 5 years. If you need to buy a new helmet, check out CR’s bicycle helmet buying guide and ratings. If you already have a helmet, find out how to make sure it fits properly. Before using the helmet, check to make sure that it meets standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Even when you are biking during the day, you should always use front and rear lights. Lights increase your visibility to motorists, especially at dusk and dawn.
When biking, wear easily visible cycling clothing, such as a bright yellow, red, orange, or blue jacket or vest, to improve your ability to be seen. Some cycling clothes also come with reflective stripes.
Out on the road
- Obey the law
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reminds cyclists that “a bicycle is a vehicle, and you’re the driver.” This means that cyclists have to follow all traffic laws and obey street signs, signals, and road markings. Ride in the same direction as traffic when cycling on roadways. Running stop signs and other traffic control devices puts you and other cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists in danger.
- Stay alert
Keep your eyes up and look ahead at all times. Obstacles, such as potholes, bottles, and curbs pose a bigger risk to cyclists than they do to cars.
- Use hand signals
Bicyclists are required by law to use hand signals because it communicates intentions to turn or stop. Review proper hand signals here.
- Be predictable
Remain in the bicycle lane and try not to weave into the travel lane. Most drivers will assume you will keep riding at the same speed and direction, unless you communicate otherwise through hand signals.
- Ride single file
Stay single file no matter where you are riding. This allows traffic to give you three feet of space when passing without having to veer into the oncoming lane, and lets other cyclists pass you safely on the road.
- Don’t text and ride
The NHTSA says cyclists should never wear headphones because they hinder one’s ability to hear traffic. And, just like driving, texting while cycling is a major distraction. Be safe and put your smartphones away.
How do most Tampa vehicle-bicycle accidents occur?
The most common causes of Tampa vehicle-bicycle accidents include:
- Left turns – Tampa is notorious for left-hand turn accidents. Left-turning drivers have a duty to yield to cyclists. But when a driver is distracted, whether due to texting, making a phone call, or changing a song, he or she can easily fail to notice an approaching cyclist.
- Distracted driving – Distracted driving is a leading cause of Tampa auto accidents, including those involving bicycles. When drivers are paying attention to their phones instead of their surroundings, they are significantly more likely to cause dangerous collisions. Common forms of distraction include reading and responding to text messages, dialing phone numbers, talking on the phone, and using social media.
- Pulling into a crosswalk – Sometimes, drivers will pull forward into a crosswalk to look for an opening. However, if a cyclist is crossing or preparing to cross along the crosswalk at high speed, he or she may not have enough time to fully brake before hitting the side of the vehicle.
- Unsafe lane changes – Even if a driver is not weaving, making a single unsafe lane change can still be extremely dangerous. Bicycle accidents involving unsafe lane changes typically result from drivers merging into cyclists’ lanes without first looking to ensure that the lane is clear.
- Running a red light or stop sign – Running red lights and stop signs is a common cause of intersection accidents, as well in neighborhoods and suburban areas. While running a traffic sign or signal is dangerous in itself, the risks are magnified when drivers fail to look for cyclists who have the right of way.
Injured in a Tampa bicycle accident?
Call (813) 774-3341 to speak with an experienced Tampa bicycle accident attorney today
Tampa bicycle accidents can be devastating. When a cyclist is hit by a vehicle, the impact can lead to serious injuries, traumas, and even death. Victims of bicycle accidents often have exorbitant medical bills, lost wages, and mental and emotional anguish. That’s why you should contact an experienced Tampa bicycle accident attorney immediately if you or someone you know has been injured in a bicycle accident in Tampa.
Darrigo & Diaz, Attorneys at Law is committed to helping personal injury victims recover compensation after a preventable accident. Our Tampa bicycle accident lawyers have more than 75 years of combined experience handling personal injury claims and have recovered millions of dollars for clients since 1999. Senior Partner Nadine Diaz is Board Certified in Civil Trial Law, so you can feel confident that our team has what it takes to bring you results. There are no costs to hire us. We offer free consultations and there are no fees unless we make a recovery on your behalf, so you have nothing to lose in speaking with a member of our team about your potential case.
You can meet with us and retain our representation without ever leaving your home through our remote services.
We are available 24/7 to offer you immediate assistance. Call (813) 774-3341 to get started.