Since the 1990s, Fort Lauderdale has consistently topped the list of the nation's most dangerous cities for both bicycling and walking. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has even identified the city of Fort Lauderdale as having the fifth overall most traffic deaths per capita in the entire country.
Despite this, millions of tourists flock to Fort Lauderdale's turquoise shores year after year. In search of fine dining and extravagant shopping, day trips to the beach and nights spent out with friends, Fort Lauderdale has proven to be one of the state's crown jewels of tourism. However, is the city's influx of tourism to blame for the steady rise in bicycle accidents in Fort Lauderdale? Let's take a look at the facts.
Rates of Tourism in Fort Lauderdale
In the first quarter of 2018 alone, Florida welcomed 33.2 million visitors – the largest ever quarter for tourism in Florida. Specifically, in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area, 12.8 million total visitors touched down on our turf. Domestically, the city's rate of tourists is up 4.6 percent since 2016. Internationally, visitors increased by more than 1 million people in 2017.
Each month, between 2 and 3 million passengers fly in and out of Fort Lauderdale - Hollywood International Airport. The steady influx of visitors has created a booming tourism business, making Fort Lauderdale the second top city for hotel customers. In fact, the Fort Lauderdale hotel business comes second only to Miami, beating out powerhouse New York City for the average nights stayed by a guest.
Fort Lauderdale Bicyclists on the Rise
The boundless sunshine and 1.5-mile promenade of Fort Lauderdale beach is a cyclist's dream. With a plethora of locals utilizing bicycles as a method of daily transportation and as an aspect of fitness and recreation, bicycling in Fort Lauderdale has consistently proven to be popular.
Greater Fort Lauderdale's scenic bicycle routes include:
- Hollywood Broadwalk
- Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd.
- El Mar Drive in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea
- Rio Vista
- Coral Ridge
Fort Lauderdale has also become one of the latest destinations for B-Cycle, Broward County's bike-sharing program. Recent years have seen a spike in bike sharing and bike path construction, and tourism may be playing a role.
In addition to locals already cycling, data obtained from Visit Lauderdale suggests that the city's top visitors are coming from states like New York, California, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. All of these states are home to major cities which have long embraced a greener approach to transit – bicycles. The popularity of city bikes in large metropolitan areas has created a greater niche of tourists and locals alike searching for bicycle rentals near them.
Bicycle Accident Statistics in Fort Lauderdale
Since 2014, Fort Lauderdale residents have consistently ranked the safety of biking as the highest priority within the transportation and mobility category. Only 25 percent of respondents of a local Neighbor Survey were satisfied with the safety of biking in the area. According to NHTSA data, Fort Lauderdale has the second highest rate of pedestrian fatalities and the fifth highest rate of total traffic fatalities in the nation.
Bicyclist fatalities make up 4 percent of all Florida traffic fatalities, the highest in the nation. Despite current efforts to curb distracted driving, speeding, and road safety in the area, Broward County still experienced 726 bicycle crashes in 2018. Nine of these accidents resulted in death.
Most recently, a woman riding a bike on Bayview Dr. and East Commercial Boulevard was killed after the impact of a two-car accident sent one of the cars careening into her path. A few months prior, a distracted driver crashed her car into a pack of 14 cyclists on State Road 84, killing two cyclists and injuring four others, including a 14-year-old boy.
Is Tourism to Blame for Fort Lauderdale Bicycle Accidents?
As tourists continue to head to Fort Lauderdale and the amount of bicycle accidents continues to climb, it begs the question – could the tourists be to blame? While there are no studies that prove the correlation between the two, any time a metro area like Fort Lauderdale experiences a high rate of tourists, there will be more drivers, more pedestrians, and more cyclists on the road.
Traffic congestion in the area is just one reason why accidents continuously occur. Likewise, different rules of the road and unfamiliar traffic flow is a consistent cause of traffic accidents in major cities, and Fort Lauderdale is no exception. However, Fort Lauderdale roads are specifically notorious for not providing adequate safety precautions for cyclists. As roads become more congested, some may argue these accidents may be unavoidable.
Have you recently been involved in a bicycle accident in Fort Lauderdale? Current road conditions and negligent drivers may have been to blame. You shouldn't be responsible for the concurring medical bills. Contact a bicycle accident lawyer to discuss your rights as a victim.