Jacksonville 2nd most deadly city in nation for bicyclists

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Those who walk, ride or drive the streets of Jacksonville know our streets can be very dangerous.

The most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Administration shows Florida had the most recent deaths of bicyclists per capita in the nation, and Jacksonville was second only to Tampa as the most deadly city among the top 50 metropolitan areas in the US. Orlando was No. 3 and Miami No. 4 in the NHTSA data from 2007-2016.

Bicyclist deaths per 100,000 people

NHTSA data from 2007-16

5 most dangerous metro areas

The statistics don't surprise Jonathan Nelson, whose 37-year-old sister died Wednesday morning while riding her bicycle to work on 103rd Street. He does not believe the area where she was hit by a car is particularly dangerous -- but any road can be deadly.

"I consider myself a very cautious bike rider. I've been hit on a bike a couple of times," Nelson said. "I always wear a helmet -- it's second nature. I don't get on a bike without one."

Attorney Elizabeth Hernandez represents several bicycle accident victims in Jacksonville. She is aware of the national statistics and is also not surprised, given the popularity of biking in Jacksonville.

"I definitely think the state recognizes (it) and I think the Department of Transportation is making the right push," Hernandez said. "I do believe the cities should get involved. If your city and you know there are a lot of people on bikes all the time, maybe, at some point to go ahead and set up those precaution(s), even something as simple as more signage."

For the past two years, the city of Jacksonville made efforts to improve safety by putting countdown clocks at crosswalks to let people know how much time they have to cross a street and by improving existing bike lanes and adding more of them.

One example is a project underway along Riverplace Boulevard, where the city is reconfiguring the road to make it safer for both pedestrians and bikers. 

Similar improvements are being made along San Jose Boulevard, where bike lanes are being added. There are other projects across Jacksonville where the city has seen accidents.

The city has hired a bike and pedestrian coordinator within the planning department and has developed a Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plan. It calls for the city to adopt a Vision Zero policy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and serious injuries in the city by 2030 and commit to annual funding of safety projects.

Officials did not grant News4Jax an interview Wednesday on the department's efforts how much money is being spent and what projects are completed. We will keep asking until those questions are answered.

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.