Beaches and warm breezes are nice. But bike safety is nicer.
Last week, I posted about the bike-friendliness of Jacksonville Beach. Sadly, bike-friendliness begins and ends there. The rest of Jacksonville is dangerous for bikers. This article states that Jacksonville is one of the most dangerous places to bike in Florida, up there with Orlando, Tampa and Miami.
This is bad. If you bike through Jacksonville, you already know this. But people who have not yet visited or moved to Jacksonville do not know this. Can you imagine what a rude awakening someone might get if they came here from out of town and tried biking through our streets? I think that would be tremendously unfair to that person.
Moreover, bikes are the future. Gas is expensive, car culture is unsustainable, and people are tired of being out of shape. The popularity of biking and bike commuting is spreading. If our city isn’t bike friendly, it will be left behind.
How Can We Improve Bike Safety in Jacksonville?
So what do we do? The first thing you have to do is get out and ride. I know that’s hard when it’s not safe. But the only way to force motorists to take notice of and care about cyclists is to make them see us. And we can only do that by getting on our bikes and taking to the road.
Once we’ve established some strong numbers and a vocal community of bikers, we can begin to lobby our city council for improvements. When we do, we have to cite both the stats on the benefits and popularity of biking, and the dangers that bikers face in our city.
Until things change, it will be up to us cyclists to make the roads safer for each other. You probably know what you need to do to stay safe on the road but it never hurts to refresh your memory.
- Wear light colored, reflective coating.
- Remember to signal when turning or changing lanes.
- Ride in the center of the lane so that cars have to see you. Yes, you might get honked at. And have epithets hurled at you. But that’s better than getting sideswiped.
- Wear a helmet. Yeah, their uncomfortable and unfashionable but given the state of things, it’s not worth the risk.
Photo credit: Boston Public Library / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)