A recent report by the Wall Street Journal deemed Florida’s Gulf Coast Region as one of the most dangerous places to bicycle in America. Pinellas County ranks No. 1 as having the highest cyclist death rate in the Tampa Bay metro area.
The report pointed to texting and driving, as well as drinking and driving as the primary reasons.
One of the main concerns is that there are not enough bike lanes in suburban areas, especially where six-lane roadways have a speed limit of at least 45 mph.
Bringing the concern closer to home in Southwest Florida, we headed out to Cape Coral. The city of canals has more than 120 miles of bike lanes for the growing community of cyclists.
Despite the 120 miles of bike lanes, some bicyclists like Kelly Rogers say it’s not enough. “I hardly ever do any group rides over here in The Cape because there’s hardly any good routes to have a nice open space for us to be able to ride on.”
In an attempt to meet the safety demands of cyclists and pedestrians, Cape Coral created an interactive map for the people who would like to see more bike routes and safe places for people to walk.
“To expand an existing roadway that already has sidewalks, curbs, gutters - that would be an extreme expense. You would have to expand the road another three feet which means expanding all of the curb and gutter,” explained Connie Barron, the public information officer for the City of Cape Coral.
The city compiled residents input and created an interactive bike map. Cyclists are able to see the bike routes that was created by Cape Coral’s department of parks and recreation.
But safety concerns are not just about bike lanes, routes, and sharing the road with drivers. It turns out there’s a push for more lighting on the streets. In 2016, the Florida Department of Transportation launched a $100 million push to add better lighting in 2,500 locations where nighttime crashes were high.
The agency suggested that bike lanes should include buffers to protect bicyclists.