Every day, more and more people are hopping on a bike and heading out to work, school, the grocery store—wherever they need to go--using their bikes not for recreation, but for transportation. Every day, more communities are taking bikes into consideration when they plan transportation projects—creating livable neighborhoods, building bike paths, and launching bike share programs.
In fact, 41 cities nationwide have bike shares today—with more cities joining the ranks this year. One of those cities is Tampa, FL, where DOT held its first Bike Safety Summit today.
But as more people turn to biking for their transportation needs, it is increasingly important that we do everything we can to ensure their safety, just as we do for all other forms of transportation. Recent data shows that in 2011, the number of bicyclists killed jumped by nearly 9 percent. In Florida alone, 534 cyclists died in traffic crashes between 2006 and 2010.
So, as thrilled as we are that more people are riding bikes—and that more communities are thinking about bikes as they plan for the future—we have important safety work ahead.
And that’s why we’re having these Bike Safety Summits--our second summit will be in Minneapolis on April 29. We need to look at how we can make our infrastructure safer for everyone. Because even one cyclist killed is one too many.
The Florida DOT is reaching out to the community to figure out what needs to change. And with the help of an $11 million TIGER grant from DOT, Tampa is completing its Riverwalk project, which will help keep cyclists and pedestrians safe with a dedicated path. And local advocates like Karen Kress with Tampa BayCycle and Jim Shirk with the South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers are also drawing attention to safety issues.
In Tampa today, we’re looking at the causes of cyclist injuries and fatalities. And we’re looking at ways to improve bike safety—from engineering to education to enforcement. We hope to identify a few tools that can help improve bike safety in every community.
But this is only the beginning.At DOT, we will continue to work with local leaders to deliver more transportation options--more livable communities, more bike paths, more bike shares. And we will continue to press for options that keep all users of our roadways safe.
But we cannot do it alone. We need cyclists, advocates, engineers, and safety experts to help continue the momentum.
After all, there is safety in numbers. More cyclists mean more visible--and safer--cyclists. So, get out there. Get on your bike. Ride safely. And show your community that you are serious about cycling and that cycling is serious transportation.
And if you were in Tampa for today's summit, go back to your community and share what you've learned with as many people as you can so today's ideas can be the seeds of tomorrow's solutions.
We'll see you in a couple of weeks in Minneapolis. Stay safe out there.
With Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn; photo courtesy City of Tampa