A recent Wall St. Journal report notes that Pinellas County is the most dangerous place in the country to ride a bike. Not good. Especially considering how much money is spent by local, state, and federal authorities to fix the problems.
Pinellas County has the highest cyclist death rate in the Tampa Bay metro area, which has the highest rate of any metro region in the U.S., a report from the Wall Street Journal said.
According to numbers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the number of cyclists killed in motor vehicle crashes nationwide was 840 in 2016, a 35% jump from 2010.
Florida in particular has by far the highest per-capita bicyclist death rate in the nation, and the states of Florida, California and Texas account for about 40% of all cyclist deaths, according to NHTSA.
From 2007-2016, the report states that Florida’s fatality rate for cyclists was 6.2 deaths per 100,000 residents, 59% higher than the next highest state.
The Tampa Bay area’s fatality rate for cyclists was 7 deaths per 100,000 residents, the highest of any metro area in the nation.
Clogged roads, tourists, elderly drivers, poorly constructed roads that don’t allow for bike lanes all lead to the bad news for Pinellas bike enthusiasts.
“Florida’s population is older and more densely packed, and the state gets a steady influx of tourists unfamiliar with local roads,” transportation-safety consultant Pam Fischer, who wrote last year’s GHSA report, which examined bike-safety issues nationwide, told the Wall Street Journal. “You kind of mush it all together, and it helps us explain as best we can what’s going on out there,” she said.
Since 2014, state transportation officials reportedly changed standard width for bike lanes and launched a push to better light locations where nighttime crashes for pedestrians and bicyclists was high.
However, the paper reports that bike fatalities are trending up again this year, with 95 so far this year in Florida, six of those in Pinellas County.
This isn’t a legacy we want for Pinellas County.