Gainesville has a mixed record for bicycle safety. In 2021, Gainesville won a silver award from the League of American Bicyclists for bike-friendliness. This award was based largely on facilities at the University of Florida, which won a gold award for bike-friendliness from the organization.

But bicyclists around Gainesville also face challenges. Only about 25% of Gainesville’s roads have bike lanes. And Alachua County, home to Gainesville, consistently has a high number of bicyclist fatalities and injuries in the state.

It is essential for cyclists to understand more about bicycle safety in the area and how to ride safely to avoid bicycle accidents in Gainesville, Florida.

Gainesville Bicycle Crash Statistics

Alachua County had 110 bicycle crashes reported to police in 2022. Most of these bicycle accidents happened in the county’s most populous city of Gainesville.

This number represented a year-over-year increase in bike crashes. It also continued a three-year trend of increasing bike crashes that started in 2020. But 2022’s bicycle crash numbers still sat below the 2018 peak of 130 bike crashes.

According to the Florida Traffic Safety Dashboard, the most dangerous time to ride in Gainesville that year was in the evening. Almost 54% of injuries and fatal bike crashes in the city happened between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Similarly, the most dangerous days of the week to ride were Mondays and Thursdays. Over 41% of bike injuries and fatalities happened on those days. Weekends were also dangerous. Nearly 31% of bike crashes that caused injury or fatality happened on Saturdays or Sundays.

As you might expect from the student population and size of the University of Florida, the Florida Traffic Safety Dashboard shows that bike crashes peaked during the school year between October and March. The number of bike accidents dropped significantly as the temperature climbed and students returned home over the summer.

Injuries and Fatalities from Gainesville Bike Crashes

According to the Florida Crash Dashboard, 110 bicycle accidents in Alachua County caused four fatalities and 105 injuries in 2022. This means that 99.1% of bike accidents in the county caused a fatal or non-fatal injury, which left your odds of escaping a bike crash without injury at less than 1%.

According to Gainesville’s Vision Zero Plan, the primary reason for these deadly outcomes was vehicle speed. Higher speeds translate into greater crash energies and more severe injuries.

As the total number of bike crashes increased, the number of deaths and injuries also increased. In 2019, Gainesville had no bicycle fatalities. But the number has steadily increased since then.

Common Causes of Bike Crashes in Gainesville, Florida

According to Gainesville’s Vision Zero Plan, the most common causes of bicycle accidents include:

Turning Left at Intersections

Drivers in the left turn lane often fail to spot oncoming bicycles. Or they try to beat an oncoming bicycle through the intersection. In either case, the driver turns left or crosses the bicyclist’s path, causing a collision.

Turning Right at Intersections

Drivers turning right might not see a bicycle on the road shoulder or in a crosswalk. When they turn, they cross the path of a cyclist traveling straight through the intersection. As a result, the cyclist hits the side of the car.

Running Red Lights

One of the most common crashes in Florida happens when drivers fail to yield the right of way. When drivers run red lights, they disrupt the expectations of other road users.

Bicycle crashes that result from a red light violation can cause serious or fatal injuries as the car hits the bicycle broadside.

Failing to Yield at Mid-Block Crosswalks

Drivers can get tunnel vision as they drive. As a result, they may unconsciously ignore mid-block pedestrian signs and crosswalks. When a bicyclist tries to cross these crosswalks, careless drivers fail to stop in time and hit them.

Drifting into Bike Lanes

Painted bike lanes have no physical barrier to prevent encroachment by cars. As a result, cars that drift to the right can hit bicyclists in the bike lane.

Lane drift can happen for many reasons, including:

These crashes often cause sideswipe accidents. While sideswipes cause less serious injuries than side-impact collisions, they can still cause serious injuries since cyclists have almost no crash protection.

Locations of Bicycle Accidents in Gainesville

Bicycle crashes tend to happen at intersections. According to the Florida Traffic Safety Dashboard, about 2.5 times more crashes happen at intersections than at roadways between intersections.

The Gainesville Vision Zero Plan notes that most bicycle crashes in Gainesville happen near the university’s campus.

Specifically, the most dangerous intersections in Gainesville for bicyclists include:

  • University Avenue and 13th Street
  • University Avenue and Buckman Drive
  • SW 34th Street and Hull Road
  • SW 34th Street and SW Archer Road

The residential areas east of the campus also have a lot of bicycle crashes.

Some of the most dangerous roads away from the university include:

  • University Avenue, east of 13th Street
  • SE 11th Street/FL-331
  • FL-24
  • NE 16th Avenue

Gainesville uses these hotspots to plan bicycle facilities, like bikeways and multi-use trails.

Gainesville Bicycle Facilities and Infrastructure

Gainesville’s target area for bicycle facilities and infrastructure sits north and east of the University of Florida’s campus.

Several major roads, including NW 8th Avenue/FL-338, NW 16th Avenue, and SW 34th Street/FL-121, have painted bike lanes. And the city has redesigned NW 12th Street, NW 2nd Avenue, and NW 3rd Avenue as bike boulevards with traffic calming systems.

The city has the Waldo Road Greenway/Depot Avenue Rail Trail running south of campus. It also has the Guerry-Hawthorne Connection Trail running from the Sweetwater Wetlands Park into Gainesville along SW 6th Street. The Gainesville Vision Zero Plan calls for extending these trails.

Gainesville’s RTS buses accommodate bicycles. To ride an RTS bus with your bicycle, you will mount your bicycle on the carrier at the front of the bus. RTS also allows e-bikes on its bike carriers as long as the bike has an electric motor and not a gasoline engine.

Navigating Gainesville By Bicycle Safely

If you are a student or professor at the University of Florida, you can easily access the campus via RTS buses and multi-use trails. If you live or work elsewhere in the city, commuting via bicycle may be more challenging.

To navigate the area by bike safely, use the city’s bicycle facilities map to plan your route, and always wear a helmet.