just came out that exposes just how bad Florida is for cyclists. Duval County is the seventh worst in the state for bike crashes, totaling 281 (only one fatality though, thank goodness.) Miami-Dade tops the list at 985 crashes with 15 fatalities. The reasons for the lousy stats? Nothing that we, as Jacksonville cyclists, don’t already know:
There’s a litany of reasons why: wide and fast roadways, lack of safety education, bad drivers, under-equipped bicyclists, yearlong riding weather, and lagging infrastructure and laws. The powers-that-be realize it’s a problem. Many safety advocates, planners, lawmakers and law enforcement are patching together solutions.
I do wonder how much “yearlong riding weather” skews the stats; if more people bike and for longer, it follows that there will be more crashes, right? The irony, though, is that people in the “bike-friendly” cities do bike year round, and in much worse weather — and still have fewer crashes.
The thing is, cities did not become bike friendly as a result of fairy dust or stars aligning. It happened only after people a) got on their bikes and b) advocated for safe biking. We’re already do a. So let’s do b. Locate your Jacksonville city council member on this list and write him or her a letter. Say that you think 281 bike crashes is too many, and that you want the city to take action to make things better for people who bike. Tell them why you ride, and how improved biking would impact your life. I’ll draft a sample letter and post it up here. Don’t copy it word for word, please.
After you send your letter, call to follow up. Get an appointment for a face-to-face meeting if you can. Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, so you gotta be prepared to make noise!