Florida bicyclists take heart: the state cracked the top 10 list of bicycle-friendly states published by the League of American Bicyclists for the first time. And if momentum is an indicator, Floridians who are patient enough may eventually be riding in the country’s No. 1 bicycle-friendly state.
The Sunshine State just made it on the top 10 list for the 2019 rankings, grabbing the No. 10 slot on the strength of its infrastructure and funding, plus bicycle-friendly policies and programs. The latest report card continues Florida’s climb up the annual rankings. It placed 15th in 2017 and 24th in 2015. In 2013, it was a disappointing 31st.
What the rankings reflect
Each state’s ranking reflects a weighted score based upon the state’s score in each of the five categories:
- Infrastructure and funding
- Education and encouragement
- Legislation and enforcement
- Policies and programs
- Evaluation and planning
Safety is not a state strongpoint
Florida’s report card states that it continues to take important steps toward increased bicyclist and pedestrian safety, but it has a long way to go to catch up with leaders in this area. Approval of a statewide law in 2019 that bans texting while driving worked in its favor for increasing the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians.
However, Florida’s rate of 23.7 fatalities per 10,000 bike commuters ranks it 47th in that category out of 50 states. That rate is multiples higher than perennial top-performers such as Washington (4.5 fatalities per 10,000 commuters), Minnesota (3.4 fatalities per 10,000 commuters) and Oregon (1.8 fatalities per 10,000 commuters).
“The state DOT has taken significant steps to improve infrastructure for people who bike and walk, but will need to continue to develop appropriate facilities for communities that often require crossing high-speed roads in order to reach places by biking or walking,” the report states.
Investments in safety lauded
The report praised the state for making progress on a five-year project to install $100 million in LED lighting at intersections to improve the visibility of people who bike and walk.
The latest report card gives the lowest marks to Florida for legislation as well as evaluation and planning. According to the report, the state has not made bicyclist and pedestrian safety an emphasis, and it unnecessarily restricts the behavior of people who bike and walk.
Bicyclists who are injured due to the negligence of motorists or as a result of dangerous conditions that should have been marked or repaired may have reason to file a personal injury lawsuit. Consult with a knowledgeable injury lawyer to protect your rights.