PALM BAY, FL- Floridatoday.com reported that the Palm Bay Police Department issued a traffic alert notifying drivers that many of the eastbound lanes of Palm Bay Road would be closed to traffic following a crash that resulted in one fatality. Police advised drivers to use alternative routes while the investigation was underway.*
Steve Bland, who is a spokesperson for the Palm Bay PD stated that the incident involved a cyclist being struck by an automobile that was traveling on Palm Bay Road close to Culver Drive. The investigation into the fatality caused many lanes to be shut down for approximately two hours.
The road was reopened to traffic around 9 a.m. Police have not yet identified the cyclist.
Despite Florida’s proactive attempts at making the roads safer for cyclists, the state still has the highest number of bicycle-related fatalities in the country. Florida’s warm weather is partially to blame for the high number of cyclists killed in vehicle collisions. In 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a report stating that 150 cyclists were killed in Florida in 2015. The second highest number of cyclist fatalities was in California, indicating that states with weather that is favorable to cyclists and pedestrians are more likely to see high numbers of accidents involving motor vehicles and bikes. Florida’s population is much smaller than California, so Florida’s per capita cyclist death rate is also quite high.
Pam Fischer, who conducted research on bicycle safety for the Governors Highway Safety Association, says that Florida has been working to increase safety for cyclists and pedestrians, but that the issue can only be addressed by a combination of approaches, including improvements in road design, education, and traffic law enforcement.
In looking at the lower per capita death rate in California, Fischer states that the difference is in part cultural. Drivers in California seems to be more likely to slow down or stop in the presence of cyclists than do drivers in Florida. She says a cultural shift could help but will take time to happen.