Bicycle Crisis On Brevard Roads

Signal Four

On my Face Book timeline  the morning March 12, 2014 I wrote ‘This is what makes my sport a living nightmare. I woke this morning to see a post from 2 hours earlier…’ Patrick Greene had included a photo with his description…
“Scene this morning at Sebastian Inlet. Car hit a rider. Rider was taken away in an ambulance. Looked like a triathlete in training from the black TT Trek with Aero bars I saw under the front of the car. Say a prayer!”

Flashing blue lights… and as always you hope it’s not someone you know. That hope was gone within a few hours.

 

Seb Bridge c

I’ll be mayor of my Town until November and during the time remaining, maybe can have some influence upon  municipal and county officials. Today I sent this message to officials of the Brevard Transportation Planning Organization and all fifteen of the other Brevard mayors. You got to start somewhere again.

Good morning ,

As most of you may know I’ve been a triathlete (swim, bike & run) for many
years including five years, 2002-2006, when I was awarded All-America age
group honors. I’ve spent many hours training on my bike using Brevard’s
roads and experiencing the temperament of Brevard’s drivers. Most memorable
was in 2006 when I was fortunately uninjured in a hit & run crash. I’ll
never forget pulling myself and bike off the pavement of SR A1A and seeing
the woman drive away. Her passenger-side rear view mirror was dangling by
it’s power cord sending up a shower of sparks as it dragged on the asphalt.
She was never found. Soon after, I became Advocacy Officer for the cycling
club Space Coast Velo Sport for three years.

With that background I’ve become ever more concerned and disturbed by what
I’ve seen and heard from my fellow athletes. Recently I discovered and was
provided access to a password protected Florida data base described here:

“Florida Signal Four Analytics is an interactive, web-based system designed
to support the crash mapping and analysis needs of law enforcement, traffic
engineering, transportation planning agencies, and research institutions in
the state of Florida. This system is developed by the GeoPlan Center at the
University of Florida, and funded by the state of Florida through the
Traffic Records Coordinating Committee (TRCC).”

The information provided is remarkably detailed and updated every 24 hours
to include every Florida police agency crash report since approximately the
year 2000. As relating to bicycle/car crashes, the information is truly
alarming. By some standards the 2013 numbers confirm  Brevard County just
may have been the most dangerous county in the most dangerous state in the
entire United States! I don’t suggest this possibility without facts to
verify what I say.

2013 was a bloody year for bicycle riders in Brevard with 10 fatalities.
Consider the five boroughs of New York City with a population of 8.3 million
having 18 bike/car crash fatalities in 2012. On a per capita basis, with a
population of 550,000, Brevard experienced a rate 8 times greater than NYC’s
2012 record.
Brevard’s status among Florida Counties is dismal. While Broward and Orange
had higher per capita bike/car crashes, Brevard had a stunning 10 deaths
compared to Broward’s 11 deaths and a population more than three times
greater. On a per capita basis it’s safer to ride a bike in Miami-Dade County.

Below are six counties I’ve used for comparison:

County             Population      B/C Crashes                Rate                          Per Thousand

Broward            1.8 million            968                          1 per 1,859                     .54/1000
Orange              1.2 million             568                           1 per 2,112                      .47/1000
Brevard               550,000               243                          1 per 2,263                     .44/1000
Hillsborough   1.3 million             549                          1 per 2,327                     .42/1000
Miami-Dade     2.6 million          1009                          1 per 2,576                    .39/1000
Duval                    880,000              335                           1 per 2,625                    .38/1000

Brevard had a bike/car crash rate of one every 36 hours. Cyclists
experienced injury in those crashes at a rate of one every 47 hours.

Brevard 2013 Statistics:

243 bike/car crashes
186 injured cyclists (one injury every other day)
24 incapacitating injuries
10 deaths

Note that a cyclist was injured in 76% of the crashes with 10% being
incapacitating injuries.

Considering the 2013 bike/car crash number of 243, during the next five
years an estimated 1,215 cyclists will be hit by cars in Brevard County.
This amounts to one in every 452 people of Brevard’s population
experiencing a bike/car crash sometime during a five year period.
If it can be assumed just 33% of the population will ride during a five year
period, chance of being a rider in a bike/car crash becomes one in 150
sometime during that period.

I could continue with more numbers showing 2014 is on track to have
slightly more crashes though thankfully with fewer fatalities. But hopefully
what I’ve listed above  is adequate for now. My real concern is what
can be done to reverse a trend?

Sources tell me the complete reconstruction of Riverside Drive
(Melbourne-Indialantic) will not include bike lanes… just as the recent
completed section of Wickham Rd. I read police reports for his four mile
section of Riverside where two crashes occurred (6/05/10 and 2/29/12) in
which cars were cited for passing too close, hitting cyclists from the rear.
Actually, one was a hit & run with driver not found. Poor road design as it
applies to bicycles continues to be a major issue in Brevard County. The
most recent death in April happened because where Fiske Blvd ends and
becomes Stadium Pwky into Viera at the I-95 overpass, the bike lane ended
forcing the rider into the vehicle lane, into the path of a startled driver.
A ‘Sharrow’ (bike symbol) painted in the vehicle lane prior to the bike lane
ending to warn the driver might have prevented the fatal crash. Sharrows
painted in appropriate locations is one of several ideas for advancing
bicycle safety.

Reading numerous police reports from the Signal Four Analytics website has
provided me an overview of causes with blame rightly assigned to riders,
drivers, and road creators. I could go on with so much more but my main
purpose is to suggest that as mayors we should ask for more of  our County
administrators who are building roads which we desperately need, with
more concern for the bike/car problem. I hope the statistics provide a jolt
to those who may not have realized the situation… even as an informed
rider, I was startled by the numbers and this effects all of our
communities.

Thanks,
Mayor Rob Downey
Town of Melbourne Village