Ocala faces some serious bicycle safety issues. Over the ten years from 2011 to 2020, bicycle and pedestrian crashes were the fourth-most common type of injury crash in the Ocala metropolitan area. During that time, 256 pedestrians and bicyclists were killed or injured by drivers.
Bicyclists face many safety challenges in Ocala and the surrounding communities. The Ocala Marion County Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) has several bikeways planned over the next decade. But the area currently has little bicycle infrastructure to protect cyclists from vehicle traffic and bicycle accidents in Ocala.
Ocala Bicycle Crash Statistics
Most of Marion County’s population lives in Ocala or the unincorporated areas around Ocala. So the data provided by the state of Florida for Marion County paints an accurate picture of bicycle accidents in the metropolitan area.
Using the Florida Crash Dashboard numbers for Marion County, the metro area had 6,773 total traffic accidents in 2022. These crashes included 94 bicycle accidents.
According to the Florida Crash Dashboard, 2022’s total was the highest in over five years. Worse yet, the increase from 2021 was huge. The Ocala metro area’s 94 bike crashes in 2022 were 1.8 times more than the 52 crashes in 2021.
The number of crashes rose in the spring and fall, with 14 crashes in April and 12 in October. In between, it fell to a low point of two crashes in August. This makes sense since August weather consistently produces high temperatures and tropical rain.
The most dangerous time to ride a bike was during the day. According to the Florida Traffic Safety Dashboard, bike crashes had three peaks during the day at 8 a.m., noon, and 5 p.m., exactly when traffic congestion peaks. The safest time to ride was in the late morning after the early rush hour but before the lunch hour.
Bike crashes tended to happen during the week. The number of cyclists tends to increase when recreational cyclists ride. But road congestion during the week endangers commuters who bicycle to work.
Injuries and Deaths from Ocala Bicycle Crashes
The 94 bike crashes in the Ocala metropolitan area in 2022 caused three fatal injuries and 91 non-fatal injuries. This means cyclists suffered a 100% injury rate that year. This number tells you just how dangerous bicycle crashes in Ocala were.
Of those with non-fatal injuries, nine suffered serious injuries, according to the Florida Traffic Safety Dashboard. Under the injury scale used in Florida, serious injuries incapacitated the victim. As a result, the victim required ambulance transport to a hospital.
Examples of serious bicycle injuries include:
The remaining 82 injured cyclists suffered minor injuries or possible injuries. Minor injuries leave a visible wound but do not incapacitate the rider.
Examples of minor injuries include:
- Minor cuts and abrasions
- Sprains and strains
Possible injuries include those injuries that cause symptoms like pain or dizziness without producing a wound. A concussion, for example, would get classified as a possible injury if the rider was wearing a helmet that prevented a head wound.
Common Causes of Ocala, FL Bike Accidents
Bicycle accidents happen for many of the same reasons that car accidents do. But since cyclists have no protection in a crash, they suffer much more serious injuries.
Some common causes of bike accidents in the Ocala metropolitan area include:
Many of Ocala’s busiest roads have bike lanes. While painted lanes can create a buffer from vehicle traffic, they have no physical barrier to protect cyclists from encroaching cars.
Drivers can hit cyclists when passing them. Drivers who misjudge the distance to bikes or exercise poor directional control can drift out of their lanes and hit cyclists.
Cyclists also get hit when drivers fail to spot them when changing lanes. For example, when a driver moves into the right turn lane, they might fail to check their blind spot or only check their mirrors. As a result, they could sideswipe a cyclist or cut them off and cause the bike to run into the rear of the vehicle.
Failing To Yield the Right of Way
Bicycles are much smaller than cars and trucks. A careless driver might not spot a bike that has the right of way. Drivers can also fail to yield when they see an oncoming bicycle and try to beat them.
Some examples of situations where a car might hit a bike due to a failure to yield include:
- Merging into traffic
- Turning left across a cyclist’s path
- Turning right into a cyclist’s path
- Backing out of a parking space
- Pulling out of a driveway or parking lot
These crashes can have serious consequences since the cyclist expects the driver to yield. As a result, they might not slow down or brake before hitting the vehicle that entered traffic out of turn.
Bicycle Facilities and Infrastructure in the Ocala Metro Area
The TPO has a long-term plan to improve bicycle safety in Marion County. This plan includes integrating existing bike lanes and multi-use trails into a comprehensive network of bikeways that cross the metro area.
Also, the TPO wants to connect Ocala to the Cross-Florida Greenway Trail. This trail runs from Crystal River near the Gulf of Mexico to the St. Johns River 110 miles east. The trail runs through Marion County south of Ocala. The TPO wants to extend existing trails to create a continuous paved bikeway protected from vehicle traffic for its section.
Riding Your Bike Safely in Ocala, FL
You can ride your bike safely in Ocala, Florida. Most of the busier roads in Ocala are hotspots for bike crashes. The TPO has used crash data to map the roads with the most injury crashes. These maps will help you avoid the most dangerous roads for cycling.
In addition to adjusting your routes, you should always remember to ride defensively. Anticipate problems and slow down before you put yourself into the path of a vehicle. And always wear a helmet. Even if you suffer injuries in a bike crash, a helmet can prevent head injuries that can lead to death or permanent brain damage.
Furthermore, if you were injured in a bicycle accident in Marions Conty, FL, do not think twice and contact an Ocala bicycle accident lawyer to help you go through the legal process and get the compensation you deserve.