New signs aim to reduce bicycle accidents in Fort Myers, Cape Coral

Lee County is debuting a new “Share the Road” sign aimed at reducing bicycle accidents in Cape Coral and Fort Myers.

The signs, called “shared lane markings” or “sharrow” were approved late last year by the national Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Other communities, including Fort Lauderdale, Miami and West Palm, are expected to follow as authorities continue to combat the dangers of serious and fatal South Florida bicycle accidents.

The aim of the signs is to alert drivers in areas where bike lanes share the road.

“For anyone who cycles here in Lee County, it’s a huge leap in the right direction,” bicyclist Dan Moser told The News-Press.

Lee County authorities continue to struggle with high numbers of serious and fatal bicycle accidents; 17 Fort Myers bicycle accidents have been reported through May 26, while 15 Cape Coral bicycle accidents have been reported.

A report last year by BikeWalkLee found 190 cyclists were injured in Lee County in 2007; the motorist was at fault in 80 percent of cases.

Fort Myers will debut the pavement signs along a three-quarter-mile stretch of Gladiolus Boulevard between Hagie Drive and Pine Ridge Road.

Nationwide, 716 people were killed in bicycle accidents in 2008, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. More than 52,000 were seriously injured.

Florida leads the nation in fatal bicycle accidents. A total of 125 fatal bike accidents were reported in Florida in 2008. California was the only other state to report more than 100 fatal accidents — 109 were reported. Tennessee was third with 53.

Still, the League of American Bicyclists moved Florida up 20 places to number 12 on its list of the most bike-friendly states.

As we reported recently on our South Florida Injury Lawyer Blog, officials in Southeast Florida are preparing to debut a bike-sharing plan aimed at providing rental bicycles to residents and tourists in Broward County and throughout the Fort Lauderdale area.