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Sharing our Roadways: Is Gainesville Doing Enough to Improve Safety and Prevent Bicycle Accidents?

As our nation becomes more environmentally friendly and health cautious, the use of bicycles—both as a means of recreation and transportation—is at an all-time high. Along with this increased use, however, has come a simultaneous rise in injury and death caused by bicycle accidents.

This problem is particularly concerning in Florida, which, according to the NHTSA, has more bicycling-related fatalities than any other state in the nation. The Gainesville Personal Injury Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC wonder if enough is being done to address the safety issues that continue to plague the cyclists with whom we share our roadways.

The need to improve safety, through bike infrastructure, planning, and similar initiatives is a concept that has long been recognized in many of our nation’s large cities. However, many argue that bike safety efforts in Florida have failed to keep up with those in place and/or underway in cities in other states with comparable bike usage rates.

Consider Gainesville as an example.

According the 2012 American Community Survey, Gainesville ranks 12th in the nation, amongst cities with populations of 65,000 or more, for its percentage of people that commute to work by bicycle. Further, the city considers itself to be a bicycle-friendly city, and as stated in local media reports, has even been listed within the top 50 bike-friendly cities in the nation. Yet if Gainesville is so ‘bike-friendly,’ the statistics appear to say otherwise.

According to crash data, Gainesville has one of the highest rates of bicycle injury/death per 100,000 in the state. While it is also necessary to factor in the area’s increased level of ridership, the figures are still alarming. Despite millions of dollars in funding, and the city’s purported goal to “invest in community infrastructure and continue to enhance the transportation network and systems,” many residents remain concerned over the dangers of cycling in their communities.

While large-scale projects aimed at improving safety and networking along some of Gainesville’s busiest roadways are certainly a step in the right direction, the City also needs to consider the benefits of incorporating more small scale-projects to address the needs of cyclists in other areas as well. For example, many argue that there are simply not enough crosswalks throughout Gainesville to allow bicyclists and pedestrians to safely commute.

Concerns over the city’s lack of crosswalks heightened recently, following a tragic bicycle accident, in which a 49-year old Gainesville man, William Leon Bailey III, was struck and killed by a motorist while attempting to cross a street in an area that had no crosswalk. To view more information regarding this incident.

Just a few days following this incident, a Gainesville woman was seriously injured when a dump that was pulling out of a job site struck the victim, and then ran over her leg. Details on this incident can be accessed. While certainly in either of these accidents, it cannot be said that ‘through tragedy comes triumph,’ what can be hoped for is progress—and in the very least awareness.

Quite simply, we all must keep in mind that bicyclists and pedestrians are in a far more vulnerable position than any other type of road user. The Gainesville Personal Injury Attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Straile, PLLC hope that this recent bicycle accident fatality, and others similar to it, serve not only as an impetus for the city to make a more concerted effort to strive for improvement, but also as a reminder to motorists of the importance of sharing our roadways.

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