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South Florida's Ongoing Effort to Improve Pedestrian and Cyclist Safety

Pedestrian fatalities are the highest they have been in a decade, and the state of Florida ranks among the most dangerous in the country for walkers. In fact, Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach ranked as the 11th most dangerous metropolitan communities for pedestrians in a recent report from Smart Growth America. In response to this issue, government agencies in South Florida are taking steps to improve pedestrian safety and reduce the number of fatalities.

South Florida doesn’t fare well nationally when it comes to protecting pedestrians and bicyclists. We look at how crashes involving walkers and cyclists occur, and what Florida is doing to improve road safety for these two groups.

About the Report

Smart Growth America's report, which was entitled "Dangerous by Design," ranks all 50 states and the 104 largest metropolitan areas in the country according to their relative danger for pedestrians. To measure danger for pedestrians, the researchers used a "Pedestrian Danger Index," which utilizes data on pedestrian deaths, population size and the number of people who usually commute on foot in the area. The study covered a 10-year period ending in 2014. During this time, Florida saw a total of 5,142 pedestrian deaths. The number of deaths in South Florida during this time was 1,508.

In the country as a whole, more than 46,000 pedestrians were killed in the ten years covered by the report, which translates to 13 deaths every day. In fact, Americans were approximately seven times more likely to die while walking by a road than to die during a natural disaster. Older adults and minorities are more likely to die as pedestrians than other people.

What Causes Pedestrian Deaths?

According to the report, some of the factors contributing to pedestrian deaths include poor pedestrian infrastructure and poor street design. Streets with fast-moving vehicles are more dangerous than those with slower traffic. Other factors that may contribute to pedestrian deaths include unsafe walking practices, distracted driving and walking or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

What Is South Florida Doing to Protect Pedestrians?

To combat the high number of pedestrian deaths, certain government agencies in South Florida are being proactive about pedestrian safety. For example, the City of Miami Beach has implemented a cyclist and pedestrian safety initiative designed to reduce the number of pedestrian deaths through both stronger enforcement of laws and better education. This program has been in place for five years. It is sponsored by the University of South Florida and the Florida Department of Transportation.

Under this program, High Visibility Enforcement Detail Squads will spend time educating people who walk near high-traffic intersections about safe pedestrian and driver behavior. Eventually, the HVE squads will begin issuing warnings and citations for unsafe behaviors. The program has also published pedestrian and cyclist safety messages in electronic newsletters, in magazines and on social media. This safety campaign is expected to run from December through May.

Safety for Cyclists

Like pedestrians, cyclists are also at an increased risk of fatal accidents when on the road in South Florida. In fact, Miami ranks as the fourth most dangerous city for cyclists in all of the United States.

From 2010 to 2014, 47 people were killed while cycling in Miami. At least three of these cyclists were killed on the iconic Rickenbacker Causeway, one of the most scenic bridges in the area. To reduce the danger for cyclists, organizations in Miami are working for safer conditions. One such effort is headed by the Plan Z project, which aims to create an elevated bicycle path connecting Key Biscayne to Miami. This project would allow cyclists to ride safely over the cars below, on their own dedicated path.

Plan Z would provide more than a simple bike path. Because of climate change, the Rickenbacker Causeway is already in need of structural renovations this project would provide. In addition, the proposal includes plans for a waterfront park.

Justice for Pedestrian and Cyclist Accident Victims

If you have any questions about this topic or believe that someone else’s negligence or recklessness is responsible for your injuries, the attorneys at Stabinski & Funt, P.A. can help. For 45 years, we have been the trusted advocates for countless personal injury victims and their families throughout South Florida. We offer risk-free consultations and work on a contingency basis, which means that we do not require you to pay any fees until we have secured a recovery on your behalf. Contact us today by calling 305-964-8644 or filling out a free case evaluation form to find out how we can help you.

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