For a cyclist in Florida, the words “terrifying future” in relation to the sport of cycling is haunting, and puzzling. From what we’ve all been reading, Florida is making tremendous strides in regard to cycling safety all throughout the Sunshine State. Just last year, Florida circulated a newfound plan of action to increase safety and reduce the accident rate for cyclists. In fact, Florida even hired a number of staff members whose job is solely to concentrate on the interests of pedestrians and cyclists. This is all wonderful news, so what’s the problem?
The crux of the issue is that while Florida is paying attention to cyclists’ needs in theory, the economic model pays little attention to cyclists. In practice, Florida is all about growth and, more specifically, growth in regard to vehicles. Florida’s population is growing at rapids rates. Actually, Florida’s population is growing at a rate that is nearly twice that of the national rate. A rapid uptick in Florida’s population means that changes will need to take place. Eventually, new roads will need to built in order to connect these new suburbs to cities. Unfortunately for cyclists, the most cost-effective way of building these roads means that safety for pedestrians and cyclists takes a backseat.
Statistics prove time and time again that poor road design is amongst the most deadly and influential threat to cyclists. In Florida, road design has failed over and over, and it’s not looking any better in the future. Quite simply, roads in Florida are designed to benefit cars, not pedestrians. Some roads lack a bike lane altogether. Even the roads that are constructed with bike lanes pose a risk for cyclists. With wider traffic lanes, motorists are encouraged to drive faster and more recklessly. As the population rates continue to rise and the road designs remain stagnant, a recipe for cycling disaster will prevail.
As cyclists on the roads of Florida, every day presents a new risk and a new danger to consider. When will Florida wake up and realize that something has to change? When will Florida’s roadways be built to accommodate drivers and cyclists/pedestrians? The future seems grim and this is frightening for cyclists and cycling advocates. What do you think about Florida’s current road design? Are the roads safe where you cycle most often? Share your opinions in the comment box.