Miami Bike Crashes Almost Doubled From 2005 to 2013, Analysis Finds

A ghost bike memorial for Christophe LeCanne, a rider killed on the Rickenbacker Causeway.
A ghost bike memorial for Christophe LeCanne, a rider killed on the Rickenbacker Causeway.
photo by C. Stiles

Eber Vasquez was killed while riding his bicycle in April of this year. Walter Reyes was killed while riding in January. Aaron Cohen was killed in February 2012, Christophe Le Canne in 2010.

But in addition to those deaths, of course, are hundreds of unreported crashes between cars and bicycles every year in the county. And according to a Miami Geographic analysis published yesterday, the number of crashes has been going up in Dade County — way up.  

The website analyzed crash data from the FDOT Safety Office, specially homing in on crashes where at least one car and on bicycle was involved, from 2005 through 2013. Miami Geographic then used the findings to create very cool "heat maps" plotting the sites of each crash, in order to present a picture of bicycle crashes in Miami neighborhoods. 

"With regard to the specific neighborhoods most affected by automobile-on-bicycle collisions, one area stands out as a constant hot spot during the nine-year period," the website wrote. "Miami Beach is where crashes are overwhelmingly densest." 

But the bigger takeaway is that the overall number of crashes increased dramatically over the nine-year period, with an increase every year except from 2005 to 2006. In 2005 the group found 234 crashes; in 2009 there were 301; and in 2013 there were 458 — almost double the original number. 

"Wow, that's pretty bad," says Ron Cater, owner of the Team Iguana Sports bike shop in North Beach.

But Cater wasn't actually surprised by the data: compared to even several years ago, he says, he's seeing more and more cyclists come in with twisted and banged up bikes after getting in close calls with cars. 

"The problem is we just don't have enough safety," he says. "People aren't wearing helmets; [the county] has to establish bike lanes."  

The biggest factor, both Cater and Miami Geographic point out, is likely Miami's own population and ridership increase—and a lack of corresponding new bike lanes other safety measures — although no hard data appears to exist as to Miami's actual ridership. 

Besides Miami Beach, Miami Geographic found that the area of Coral Gables around the University of Miami was particularly dense for crashes, as were Little Havana, Brownsville, Overtown, and central downtown. 

The picture only appears to get bleaker when considering 2014: Although Miami Geographic's analysis didn't include last year, in March the Ft. Myers News-Press, in its own comprehensive data analysis, found that there were 985 crashes for 2014 in Miami-Dade County, and that Florida was the deadliest state in the country for bike riders. (It's not clear exactly how the two analyses' methodologies matched up, perhaps explaining some of the apparent dramatic increase from 2013 to 2014.) 

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