Florida weather is a boon to bicycle enthusiasts, who can often enjoy biking along trails, streets, and roads well after other parts of the country are covered in snow. However, not all areas of Florida are completely safe for bicyclists. Morton Avenue to in Jacksonville, for example, is considered to be one of the most dangerous areas for bicyclists in the city, according to authorities and bicyclists. Several fatal accidents have taken place along the street and several bicyclists have suffered serious personal injury on the street. Pedestrian accidents have also occurred on the same street. Police blame the multiple lanes and large amounts of traffic on Morton Avenue for the number of accidents.
Although good habits can help protect bicyclists from some accidents, even good bicyclists are at risk of bicycle accidents. In 2008, Jacksonville Police Chief Tom Weeks, a bicyclist who understood the rules of the road extremely will, was killed in Springfield when his bicycle was struck by a car.
In Jacksonville, Morton Avenue is not the only dangerous area for bicyclists and pedestrians. College Avenue in Jacksonville is the second busiest street in the area and a frequent site of pedestrian accidents. Both bicyclists and pedestrians have been hit on Westgate Avenue, as well. According to police, high traffic volume and driver inattention often combine to create deadly or dangerous conditions on these streets.
Across Florida, authorities recommend that drivers minimize distractions when driving. Avoiding cell phones and involved discussions with passengers can help drivers avoid many accidents, according to local police. Police also note that bicyclists can help avoid accidents by following the rules of the road. Authorities also recommend that bicyclists stay safe by:
1) Choosing routes wisely. Police note that new bicyclists often select the same routes they would choose when driving. Taking smaller streets and less busy streets can mean less risk of injury.
2) Stay visible. Jacksonville authorities note that many bicyclists in the area ride their bicycles without reflective clothing and without lights. Simple headlights and rear lights on a bicycle can ensure that drivers see you in time to prevent a collision.
3) Stay to the left or take a whole lane. Staying left prevents injuries caused by open car doors. Taking the whole lane ensures that cars see you and do not try to pass you when there isn’t enough room. If you’re selecting quieter streets, you shouldn’t be holding up traffic and there should be no problem with you taking up a lane.