A 66-year-old man died late Saturday night when he was crossing Cassat Avenue near where it intersects Tunis Street on the Westside. It's one of many fatal crashes involving pedestrians in Duval County this year.
St. Johns County also has had several fatal crashes involving pedestrians and bicycles since the beginning of the year. In fact, the county has had more fatal hit-and-run crashes since January than many counties in the entire state.
According to the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office, there have been 49 bicycle crashes and 47 pedestrian crashes between January and November. Commander Chuck Mulligan joined us this morning on The Morning Show to discuss five things many people do not know when it comes to driving, biking or walking along local streets.
1.) Florida state law designates a bicycle as a vehicle.
Bikers have the same rights on the road as cars. Mulligan says bicycles have to abide by all the traffic rules, including stopping at stop signs, using turn signals and obeying traffic lights. He says many drivers get angry with bicyclists when they slow traffic.
While the law is specific to standard and non-standard roads in terms of how much of the lane a biker can take up, in general, Mulligan says state law requires bicyclists to ride in designated bike lanes. If there is not one, bicyclists should not ride more than two abreast and stay as close to the side of the road as safely possible, according to state law.
2.) Florida state law requires 3 feet between driver and bicycle when passing.
If a driver wants to pass a bicyclist there must be three feet between the driver's passenger door and the biker. If there is not enough space to do this, then the driver must wait until it is safe or until the cyclist pulls over or turns, according to Mulligan.
3.) Bicyclists are required to ride in the same direction as traffic.
Mulligan says riding with traffic is safest for the bicyclists. A cyclists has a greater chance of surviving if they are hit from behind by a car because the force typically throws the cyclists away from traffic. If riding against the flow of traffic, the cyclist is much more likely to be hit head on, which would force them into the windshield of the car.
4.) Bicyclists are allowed to ride on the sidewalk.
State law allows bikers to ride on sidewalks, but they have to yield to pedestrians. There may be counties, however, with ordinances that prohibit bicycles on sidewalks. St. Augustine is an example of a city where it is illegal to ride on a sidewalk.
5.) Pedestrians should walk against the flow of traffic on roadways.
If there are no sidewalks available for a pedestrian, then the safest way to walk along a road, is to walk facing on-coming traffic. Mulligan says since a walker is not considered a car, like a bicyclist, then they should walk in the opposite direction of the flow of traffic to give the walker a better view of oncoming traffic.
For more information about Florida's law regulating bicycles click here to read the statute.