DELRAY BEACH – Bicycle
safety for both bicyclists and automobile drivers is a personal issue for local
attorney Shane Farnsworth.
“I do not bike personally,
however I do have a young daughter that likes to ride her bicycle,” he told the Florida Record.
Farnsworth always makes sure
his daughter wears a helmet and that her bicycle is properly illuminated before
she ventures out on a ride.
“That is very important as we
move into fall and winter where daylight available to ride a bicycle is
reduced,” he said.
And as a lawyer who
represents individuals who have suffered from personal injuries, Farnsworth
sees the importance of bicycle safety throughout his community.
“I have also represented
people injured in bicycle-vehicle crashes,” he said. “I have seen first-hand the
horrible injuries and the terrible effects those injuries have on the lives of my
clients. A bicycle-vehicle accident can be, and often is, devastating.”
So what is the best defense
to prevent further accidents? For Farnsworth, the answer is simple: education.
For example, both motorists and bicyclists should understand that bicyclists
have the same rights and duties that car drivers have. The challenge is making
sure people learn these laws, and about how bicyclists can remain safe. He
stressed that communities need to encourage this education.
“I think the best to way to
educate people is to make them aware and get them involved,” he said. “This could
be done through public forums or public service announcements. Most importantly,
it has to be stressed that bicyclists and motorists have to work together and
cooperate. They are sharing the same roads. Respect one another and the chances
of problems will decrease.”
For South Florida, it is
particularly important for both automobile drivers and bicyclists alike to be
educated on bicycle safety, due to the rapid growth the area experiences.
“South Florida is a densely
populated region with significant traffic,” Farnsworth said. “That traffic is
only getting worse with the continued development. Large communities now
stretch to the Everglades and continue to grow. The more vehicles and bicycles
that are using the same roads, the higher the likelihood of a bad encounter.”
Despite the growing number of
drivers in the area, Farnsworth noted that South Florida is still one of best
places for bicyclists.
“We have weather that allows
you to bicycle year-round,” he said. “There is a large community of bicyclists
in Florida, and there are plenty of scenic routes you can take to enjoy the
ride. On the other hand, Florida has a large population. This is especially
true in larger metropolitan areas where bicyclists sharing the road with
motorists are more likely to have accidents.”
With so many bicyclists and
drivers on the road, Farnsworth stressed that the biggest challenge is a “lack
of proper understanding of the law as it relates to bicycles and motorists is
not limited to either group.”
For this reason, Farnsworth
said that it is only through mutual understanding and knowledge that bicyclists
and motorists can peacefully and safely share the Florida roads.
“Otherwise, the consequences
are too high and often tragic,” he said. “Bicycle-vehicle accidents never end