Wednesday, July 05, 2017
Study of bicycle crashes in Florida finds clusters of danger (Gainesville Sun)
Study of bicycle crashes in Florida finds clusters of danger
Jul 4, 2017 at 12:01 AM Jul 4, 2017 at 2:31 PM
Researchers found, among 35 'hot spots' for bike crashes, the area near UF is among the state's worst 'hot spots.'
The spot where a Gainesville man died in a bicycle crash last week has been identified as one of four road segments in the city that are among the most dangerous in Florida.
Seven bicyclists were injured in separate crashes within three blocks of Northwest 13th Street, between the overpass at Northwest Eighth Avenue and Northwest 11th Avenue, from 2011 and 2014, according to a recent statewide study of crashes conducted by Florida International University researchers.
Four bicyclists were killed on Gainesville streets within the past year, although those incidents are too recent to have been included in the FIU study. Just last week, David Fitzgerald was killed on his 57th birthday when he rode over a patch of spilled oil on Northwest 13th Street, slipped into traffic and was struck by a passing truck pulling a trailer.
“The problem is getting worse,” said Priyanka Alluri, assistant professor at FIU who led the “Statewide Analysis of Bicycle Crashes,” published in May. “We need a comprehensive approach, from a design perspective and a personal behavior perspective.”
The Florida Department of Transportation divides the state into seven districts. Alachua County falls into District 2, that also takes in Jacksonville. Researchers mapped all 26,036 bicycle crashes with injuries — including 503 fatalities — in that three-year span, based on the FDOT districts.
Four clusters of bicycle crashes were found in District 2, and all of them are in Gainesville. They include:
• Northwest 13th Street near Northwest 10th Avenue;
• Southwest 34th Street near Southwest Archer Road;
• Northwest 13th Street near West University Avenue; and,
• West University Avenue near Southwest Second Avenue.
More broadly, the researchers used sophisticated mapping techniques to reveal "hot spots" for bicycle accidents over a broader area within cities. Four "hot spots" were identified for each FDOT district. Statewide, among the 16 district "hot spots," Gainesville's was among the hottest.
The area most used by those commuting to the University of Florida campus, including University Avenue, 13th Street and Archer Road, and their side streets, had 199 crashes. Only Hollywood Beach near Fort Lauderdale had more crashes.
Researchers identified several take-aways from their study:
• Motorists were at fault in more crashes (46 percent) than bicyclists (30 percent), but fatalities more often involved mistakes by bicyclists.
• It is far more dangerous for bicyclists to ride against the flow of traffic.
• While 10 percent of crashes involving bicyclists who were under the influence of alcohol resulted in a fatality, 28 percent of cyclists who used drugs died when they crashed.
• Nighttime crashes resulted in more fatalities than daytime crashes.
• Helmets did a better job of protecting cyclists from injury than reflective clothing or lights, but both helped. Of the 503 fatalities, 80 percent had no safety gear.
• The biggest mistake made by cyclists was failure to yield, resulting in about 15 percent of the crashes.
• The biggest mistake made by motorists was driving out of their lane, followed by changing lanes and turning.
• Although cyclists were frequently hit while riding on the sidewalk, these crashes resulted in fewer fatalities.
Other bicyclists who died in Gainesville in the past year include:
• Zachary House, who was struck and killed near 2500 NW 13th St. at about 11 p.m. on April 28 by a driver who was reportedly speeding.
• Phillip McCullar, a 56-year-old High Springs man who was struck from behind by a car traveling north on U.S. 441 in northwest Alachua County on March 29 at about 10 p.m.
• Abigail Dougherty, a 20-year-old UF applied physiology and kinesiology senior from Englewood, who was crossing West University Avenue on her bicycle on Oct. 28, 2016, at about 9:45 a.m. when she was struck by a turning garbage truck.