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Florida Bike Safety Summit Reinforces Need for Education

lahoodstricklandIf you want to confront the issue of bicycle safety, Florida, unfortunately, is the right place to go.

The Sunshine State has had 534 cyclist fatalities between 2006 and 2010, and since 1998, Hillsborough County has averaged 8 bike-related deaths every year.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced USDOT would host two Bike Safety Summits at our 2013 National Bike Summit in March. He hosted the first of those bike safety summits in Tampa, Fla., last week. The summit connected engineers, safety experts and law enforcement from state and local levels to find ways to improve cycling safety.

But that wasn’t all. The call for better biking came from beyond the traditional fold, too. It was so great to hear Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn — not someone who would identify as an avid cyclist — say the revitalization power of bikes is evident, and active mobility is essential to creating quality of life.

Bicycle Friendly Communities come in all shapes and sizes – there are currently 242 BFCs in 47 states. These cities show that through bicycling, communities can become destinations for people who want to work, live and retire. Having grown up in Florida myself, I never considered riding a bike for transportation until I moved to Washington, D.C. It was exciting to be surrounded by so many bike enthusiasts whose goal for the state is the same as the League’s – get more people on bikes.

While there were many suggestions on how to get more people riding, one thing was common in every discussion – education. Everyone agreed that it’s not just the people who are riding that need it: motorists need education on how to share the road and law enforcement need to know how to implement bike laws. Here at the League, we’re taking a comprehensive approach to get everyone involved.

We help cyclists become confident and safe on the roads through our education program. We’re working with city officials — and law enforcement — to improve conditions for bicyclists and make sure our rights are respected. And, yes, the National Bike Summit plays a role, too. Just a day after Secretary LaHood announced the Bike Safety Summits, AAA presented its new PSA, highlighting the need for all road users to safely share the road.

As for me, it made me even MORE excited about our new library of free education videos that we’ll be debuting during National Bike Month. Stay tuned!

(Photo: LaHood speaks with Buckhorn at the Florida Safety Summit).


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