In a much-needed move for improving cyclists’ safety while enjoying their time on the roadways, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is reportedly targeting particularly busy and dangerous intersections within the county in a safety plan dubbed “High Visibility Enforcement Operations.” The intersection at Military Trail and Okeechobee Boulevard is a prime example of the type of heavily-traveled area being targeted by the operation.
As Palm Beach County cyclists are all too aware, the county ranks as one of the most dangerous areas for cyclists in the entire country. According to the PBSO, for each of the past three years, over 700 pedestrians and cyclists have been involved in collisions annually. Already, 2018 has been an especially brutal year. There have been 20 fatal collisions involving pedestrians/cyclists as of June.
The High Visibility Enforcement Operations is the PBSO’s attempt to reduce the number of such collisions and improve the safety of everyone sharing the roadways, including motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists. The operation began on September 4, 2018, and is scheduled to run until May 17, 2019.
HVE’s mission is education. Enforcement efforts by PBSO focus primarily on educating motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists about the applicable traffic laws. The hope is that increased awareness of the rights and responsibilities of all those on the road will increase compliance with traffic laws and thereby make it safer for everyone. PBSO notes, however, that warnings and citations may still be issued, depending on the facts and circumstances of each individual case.
Only time will tell whether HVE will result in safer roads. Nevertheless, the county and PBSO, in particular, should be applauded for their willingness to implement programs intended to address the mortal danger cyclists face every time they take to the roads doing what they love.