Seeking to stem a rising tide of bicycle accidents, a South Florida lawmaker has filed legislation to require that new urban bike paths include in-ground safety lights.
Under the legislation, SB 904 by Sen. Maria Sachs (D-Boca Raton), the solar-powered lights would be mandatory equipment at bike path intersections with busy roadways. The goal would be to alert motorists to the presence of bicyclists.
"They just see cyclists as an irritant," said biker Bryon Dalton of motorists he encounters during his rides. "I've been run off the road several times myself and had several people just stick my middle finger out me and give me a few choice words."
According to a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association, Florida ranks as the most dangerous state for bicyclists. In 2012, the bicycle accident death rate here was higher than anywhere else.
Adding in-ground lights to proposed bike paths, however, could markedly increase construction costs. The legislation would almost certainly impact the $15 million budget for the Coast-to-Coast Connector trail, which is due to be built between Tampa Bay and Central Florida.
"I don't like the idea of making a law about safety lights on bike trails," said bicyclist John Collier. "Six months from now, you know, the way things move, I (might) find out those things actually blind people and they can't even see the bikes!"