Clearwater has a lot to offer cyclists who ride for recreation or to commute. The city has bike trails that run from Clearwater Beach Island to Tampa. It also has 240 days of sunshine every year.
Pinellas County, home to Clearwater, has earned the Bronze Award from the League of American Bicyclists. This award recognizes the work the county has done to build bicycle infrastructure and pass bike-friendly laws.
Clearwater Bicycle Crash Statistics
Despite its reputation for bike-friendliness, recent statistics show an increasing number of bicycle accidents in Clearwater. Pinellas County had 546 bicycle accidents in 2021, according to the Florida Crash Dashboard. These crashes caused 504 injuries and 16 fatalities.
These numbers mean that Pinellas County accounts for 8.5% of all bike crashes in Florida and 8.1% of the state’s bike deaths. But the county only accounts for about 4.4% of Florida’s population. Cyclists in Pinellas have almost double the crash risk of cyclists in the rest of the state.
The crash statistics are even grimmer for Clearwater. The city has about 0.5% of Florida’s population. But it has 1.4% of the state’s bike crashes and 2.0% of Florida’s bike fatalities. In other words, Clearwater cyclists are three times more likely to get hit and four times more likely to die than cyclists elsewhere in the state.
Clearwater’s numbers in 2021 were the highest since 2019 and have reversed a downward trend since 2015.
The most dangerous time for cyclists in Clearwater was during the afternoon rush. According to the Florida Traffic Safety Dashboard, 40% of Clearwater’s serious bike crashes happened between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. The safest time to ride was in the morning, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Only 10% of serious crashes occurred during those hours.
Another troubling trend involving bicycle accidents was the age of the accident victims. Over 63% of the people injured or killed in bike accidents were over the age of 45.
Causes of Clearwater Bike Crashes
Clearwater does not release crash causes, but Pinellas County does. According to the county, the most common causes of traffic accidents in the county were reckless, careless, negligent, or aggressive driving. These driving behaviors caused 45% of traffic crashes.
In Florida, careless driving happens when a driver fails to drive in a careful and prudent manner. Police officers use this violation to cover driver behaviors that do not break a specific traffic law but nonetheless endanger other road users. Some examples of careless driver actions include:
Distracted driving and improper surveillance disproportionally affect cyclists. Bicycles are much smaller than SUVs, cars, and motorcycles. When drivers do not watch for cyclists, they can run over them.
Pinellas County lumped two traffic violations together for the second-most common cause of traffic accidents. Together, failing to yield the right of way and drifting out of a travel lane caused about 16% of all accidents.
These two causes also lead directly to bicycle crashes. Drivers often fail to spot cyclists at intersections and as a result, do not yield when they should, hitting bicycles. Similarly, drivers who drift out of their lanes can hit cyclists on the shoulder or on the far right of the road.
The third most common set of crash causes includes improper turning, backing, and passing. These behaviors, particularly improper turning and passing, commonly cause bicycle accidents. Nearly every bicyclist has experienced automobile drivers who:
- Turn left across their paths
- Turn right as they cross in a crosswalk
- Cut them off while passing
These collisions can cause serious or fatal injuries.
Clearwater’s Most Dangerous Roads and Intersections for Cyclists
Clearwater has several hotspots for bicycle crashes. Most of these crashes happen in areas with heavy traffic, like downtown Clearwater and the major highways.
Some of the areas where bike accidents cluster, according to Pinellas County’s statistics, include:
US-19 ALT/Missouri Ave.
As a primary route running south from downtown Clearwater, US-19 ALT/Missouri Ave. sees heavy traffic. Unfortunately, heavy traffic often translates to collisions between bicycles and automobiles.
This road has no bike lanes as it passes through Clearwater. It does not even have much of a shoulder for most of its length. This road does have sidewalks, so many cyclists are forced to travel there. Fortunately, Clearwater’s ordinances allow bike riding on sidewalks as long as cyclists yield to pedestrians.
Gulf to Bay Blvd.
This road runs along the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay, making it a dream for cyclists. The road provides bicycle lanes in both directions. However, these lanes have no safety barriers to protect cyclists.
Court St. runs through the heart of downtown Clearwater. It provides access to several municipal buildings, turns into Causeway Blvd., and crosses Clearwater Bay. This road has pavement markings to identify bike lanes, but it has no physical barrier to separate bikes and cars.
Causeway Blvd. on Clearwater Beach Island
Causeway Blvd. covers Clearwater and Clearwater Beach. This road has a nice bike trail which sees many cyclists each day.
But once they reach Clearwater Beach Island, cyclists must leave the trail to reach the island’s attractions. One of the most dangerous locations for cyclists is the roundabout at the end of the road.
Bicycle Infrastructure in Clearwater
Clearwater has seven multi-use bike trails. These trails protect non-motorized traffic from automobile traffic. They also provide access to several parks and beaches in Clearwater.
Pinellas County’s PSTA transit buses have bicycle racks. Cyclists can carry their bikes on the bus racks without paying any extra fare.
Unfortunately, PSTA does not provide bike parking near bus stops or the Park Street Terminal. But the new Clearwater transit center may include more bicycle amenities than the current terminal has.
Navigating Clearwater Safely by Bicycle
Clearwater has good weather and bikeways to carry you to many of the city’s recreational sites. Just remember to ride defensively and use the protected trails whenever possible. And always wear a helmet to protect yourself if you get into an accident.