Bicycle riding is no longer just a child's pastime or game. Biking has become an increasingly popular method of commuting, exercise, and recreation for older adults throughout the Orlando area. As the number of adults on the roads rises, the number of Florida bicycle accidents within this demographic group is also going up accordingly.
Adults who ride need to know the dangers, and drivers need to be aware of the ever-increasing chance of encountering cyclists. If drivers are better informed of the rules of the road for sharing streets safely with riders, and if drivers pay more careful attention to bicyclists, hopefully the accident rate could decline again and adults could feel safer on their bicycles.
Adults Facing Increased Bicycle Accident Risks in Florida
Orlando Sentinel wrote about the increased risk of bicycle collisions among adults as bike riding has become more popular.
Between 1998 and 2013, the number of people admitted to the hospital nationwide as a result of bike crashes has more than doubled. The biggest increase in people admitted to the hospital occurred in adults aged 45 and up.
Most areas in Florida experienced an increase in bike crash risks close to the national average increase. In 1998, a total of 486 bicycle injuries were reported in Seminole County, Orange County, and Lake County. By 2013, there were in excess of 51 percent more reported injuries, with 736 incidents in which law enforcement was notified bicycle crashes occurred and caused harm.
The death rate is rising along with the injury rate. Over the past 40 years, the number of children dying in bicycle crashes declined dramatically while tripe the number of deaths occurred among cyclists between the ages of 35 and 54. In Florida, fatal bicycle crashes are an especially serious threat to safety, as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report the state has the highest number of bicycle accident deaths nationwide. More than 100 people were killed in bike accidents in Florida last year.
The rise in adults riding not only increases deaths and injuries because there are more bikers on the road, but also means the injuries which occur are more likely to be serious. A person who is older has more brittle bones and the body is not as able to absorb the impact and recover from it as someone who is younger. The chief resident of urology at University of California, San Francisco who authored a study on senior bike crash risks warned: "when someone who is 60 falls down, they are going to absorb that impact much differently than someone who is 20."
Transportation planning managers in local areas throughout Florida have been aiming to make the roads safer for bicyclists to reduce overall accident risks. Trail systems are being expanded in some places, and sidewalks are being made wider to be used for both bicycle riding and walking. Still, there remains a very real danger an adult bike rider on the roads in the state will have his or her life changed forever or cut short by a serious bike crash. Bicyclists and drivers need to work together to try to reduce the risk.