Lawmaker seeks to protect 'vulnerable' road users


Motorists who cause bodily injury to bicyclists or "vulnerable” road users could, in addition to other charges, get slapped with fines up to $2,500, under a bill filed Thursday by Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples.

The proposal (SB 408) came a little more than a week after Washington, D.C.-based Smart Growth America released a report called "Dangerous By Design" that put eight Florida metro regions among the 10 most dangerous communities to walk in the nation.

Out of 104 metro areas, the Cape Coral-Fort Myers region received the top ranking in Smart Growth America's "Pedestrian Danger Index" released Jan. 10.

Smart Growth America, which advocates for more walkable neighborhoods and more convenient ways to travel, based its pedestrian index on a number of factors, including the amount of people who walk to work and pedestrian deaths.

Also in the top 10 were: Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Jacksonville, Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Lakeland-Winter Haven, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater and North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton. Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, lumped into a single metro area, came in 11th on the list.

Passidomo's proposal (SB 408) calls for motorists' licenses to be suspended for three years, with a requirement to retake a driver's exam, if they are charged with non-criminal traffic infractions that result in serious bodily injury or death to bicyclists or "vulnerable" road users.

Along with walkers and bicyclists, the bill defines a "vulnerable" road user as a highway worker, as well as people riding horses, farm tractors, horse-drawn carriages or electric mobility devices.

As a House member, Passidomo proposed similar legislation the past two years, but the bills did not pass.