During National Bike Month, it is important to recognize communities in Central Florida such as Winter Park and Orlando that are taking positive steps to prevent bicycle accidents.
As the Orlando Sentinel reports, the Winter Park Police Department recently received a grant from the Florida Department of Transportation that will allow the department to use “proven techniques” that enhance the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians.
According to a Winter Park PD news release, the grant funds will be used to:
Distribute educational materials to motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists that raise their awareness of traffic laws and methods of safe walking and biking
Give presentations to school age children
Use social networking
Target enforcement of violators.
Based on statistics provided by the police department, the enhanced safety effort is needed. Between 2010 and 2011, collisions between motor vehicles and pedestrians and bicyclists within the city rose by 36 percent, or from 11 accidents to 15, the Winter Park PD reports.
Those numbers do not reflect numerous “near-misses” that likely occurred during that same period, the department adds.
It’s interesting to note that, just a few years ago, Transportation for America ranked nearby Orlando as the “most dangerous” city in America for pedestrians, as ABC News reports.
MetroPlan Orlando reports that, as recently as 2010, there were 413 bicycle accidents that occurred within the region.
However, like Winter Park, Orlando is making efforts to promote safety through the work of its Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee and its long-range Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.
Car Drivers and Bicyclists Share Responsibility
National Bike Month, launched in 1956 by the League of American Bicyclists and celebrated each May, is aimed at raising awareness of the health and environmental benefits of bicycling. The month includes events such as Bike to Work Week during May 12-16 and Bike to Work Day on May 16.
The month should also serve as a time to remind car drivers and bicyclists that they can both play a role in making bicycling safer in Winter Park, Orlando and surrounding areas.
For example, car drivers can refrain from encroaching on cyclists in designated bike lanes and passing them too closely. They can also be on the lookout for bicyclists as well as pedestrians at intersections and crosswalks.
Bicyclists, meanwhile, can obey the rules of the road by riding with traffic, stopping at stop signs and red lights and signaling turns. They can also use lights, reflectors and bright clothing to make themselves easily visible to car drivers. Additionally, bicyclists should never use headphones while riding on a street or highway and should always pay close attention to the traffic around them.
Finally, even though wearing a bicycle helmet won’t help a cyclist to avoid being involved in an accident caused by a careless or reckless car driver, it can help to prevent serious and potentially fatal injuries if a crash occurs.
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