Fewer Bicycle and Pedestrian Injuries — Goal of Safe Streets Act

A 53-year-old Deerfield Beach bicyclist has died of critical injuries he sustained more than two months ago when struck from behind by a hit-and-run driver while he was biking to work one morning. bicycle

The 27-year-old driver reportedly pulled the cyclist off the top of his car and dumped him behind a trash bin. The driver has since been charged with several felonies. The cyclist was left paralyzed and after suffering several bouts of cardiac arrest, succumbed to his injuries.

Our West Palm Beach injury attorneys urge you to stay cautious and alert out there. March is the height of spring break and the tourist season, and the risk of bicycle and pedestrian accidents is never higher. Even federal lawmakers are focused on the risk,  with the passage of legislation that would bring states into compliance with the “Complete Streets” principals of urban planning. Complete Streets are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users – not just motorists. With proper planning, a street can be made safe for crossing, walking alongside and biking. Ample room for buses, large trucks and other motor vehicles makes collisions less likely.

While such measures wouldn’t eliminate the dangers posed by drunk, reckless or unlicensed drivers (the most likely to flee the scene), they could help to reduce the number of incidents by ensuring that cyclists and pedestrians are inherently better protected.

The Safe Streets Act of 2014, also known as S. 2004, would require that within two years of passage, each state, department of transportation or metropolitan planning organization explicitly outline plans for all federally-funded transportation projects that reflect safe accommodations for all users.

A bipartisan House version has been introduced as well.

There is no singular version of what a “Complete Street” looks like, as it would depend widely on the makeup and needs of that individual community.

Some of the possible elements could include:

  • Bicycle lanes or wide, paved shoulders;
  • Sidewalks;
  • Special bus lanes;
  • Accessible and comfortable transportation stops;
  • Safe and frequent opportunities to cross;
  • Curb extensions;
  • Roundabouts;
  • Median islands;
  • Accessible pedestrian signals.

A street that is considered “incomplete” would be one that was designed with only the needs of motor vehicle drivers and passengers in mind. There are many roadways in South Florida that would meet this criteria, wherein transportation choices are limited because those who might otherwise want to walk or ride a bicycle are faced with routes that are inconvenient or, in many cases, too dangerous.

There would be a few exceptions. One would be if the affected roadways by law prohibit specific users (such as highway). Another exception would be when the cost of compliance would make little sense when compared to the low demand or need for such actions on the basis of population and traffic volumes. Any exemption would have to be formally approved.

Some areas in Florida have already adopted the Complete Streets model. For example, Lee and Broward counties have embraced these initiatives, as has the city of Deerfield Beach.

These measures are critical in Florida for a number of reasons. For starters, Florida ranks No. 1 in terms of the rate of bicycle fatalities in the country. In fact, the bicycle fatality rate of 0.63 per 100,000 persons is nearly triple the national rate of 0.23 per 100,000 persons. Palm Beach County ranks fifth in the state for bicycle and pedestrian fatalities (24 bicyclists and 111 pedestrians from 2008 to 2011).

Further, Florida has a larger elder population than most other states – and it’s growing as the baby boom generation grays. When seniors are no longer able to safely drive, they may rely on friends or relatives for transportation. If that’s not an option, a lack of Complete Streets means they are either stuck or they must risk danger in walking or biking to their destination.

Contact the Hollander Law Firm. Call  888-751-7770 for a free and confidential consultation.