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Old 03-20-08, 05:22 PM   #1
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Response from FL Gov.s office to email encouraging awareness campaign

I wrote an email to the Govs office a long time ago suggesting a few ways
to encourage better motorist / cyclist cohabitation in this area. Months later
this is the response I received. Although I appreciate the in-depth response
it's not quite what I wanted to hear. Having suffered this areas drivers for
only a few months and knowing that drivers accounts of accidents always
supersede the (dead?)cylists, I simply cannot believe the assertion that
most accidents are the fault of the cyclists. Oh well, Ill still continue to
ride respectfully and letter flood official entities for some optimistically
but futile reason.........
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Mr. XXXXXXXXXXXXXX:

Thank you for expressing your concerns about motorist behavior and cycling safety in Palm Beach County to the Governor. Your message was forwarded to the Florida Department of Transportation Safety Office for response. I sincerely apologize for my delay in responding to you.

A media campaign to promote motorist awareness of cyclists and their legal use of public roads and highways is an idea that has drawn support from many bicyclists.

Unfortunately, the track record of motorist education programs has not been impressive. A 2001 issue of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Status Report newsletter (http://www.iihs.org/sr/pdfs/sr3605.pdf ) summarized the disappointing experience in this area. There has been scant evidence that such efforts influence drivers to change their behavior (nor has research published since 2001 suggested otherwise), except when conducted in direct support of specific traffic safety laws. Studies of bicycle-motor vehicle crashes have generally found large percentages of both motorists and cyclists (but more cyclists than motorists, typically) to be at fault in the crashes, with no single violation of a road rule probably involved in more than about 15 percent of the crashes—and those violations were by cyclists. The most common motorist violation (failure to wait and yield to cyclist at location where motorist faced a Stop sign) involves about 10 percent of motorists, and in many of these cases it seems the crash might have been due more to motorist failure to notice the cyclist than to ignorance of the law of Stop signs. While media messages have been developed over the years to encourage motorists to “start seeing” cyclists and motorcyclists, again there isn’t much evidence that they are effective in changing motorist behavior.

When a media campaign to educate motorists to “share the road” with cyclists was conducted in one mid-sized Florida city in 2005, the percentage of respondents surveyed (before and after) who agreed that bicycles are legal vehicles on non-limited-access highways did increase by 20 percentage points (from 52 percent to 72 percent). However, the percentage who agreed with the statement that the “driver of any vehicle has to allow enough space for bicycles on the roadway” fell 18 percentage points (from 78 percent to 60 percent).

Cyclists who operate predictably and in accordance with the laws (as you indicate you do) set an example and can contribute to a gradual improvement of motorist awareness and courtesy, as reported anecdotally by many cyclists. Cyclists who routinely ride competently and predictably on the same roads in an area gradually acclimate motorists to their presence. While research may not support educational campaigns, the Department and many of its partners throughout the state continue to develop, promote, and fund bicycle and motorist safety awareness and safety campaigns. It is also hard to teach courteous behavior, but we continue to try.

Thank you again for sharing your concerns. If you have any question, please feel to contact me.







Marianne A. Trussell

Chief Safety Officer

Florida Department of Transportation

1211 Governor's Square Blvd., Suite 300

Tallahassee, Florida 32301

Office: 850-245-1504

Cell: 850-933-1947

Remember: Buckle up - every time, every trip!
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Old 03-20-08, 05:41 PM   #2
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Meanwhile I bet Florida continues to produce and host water safety PSAs...

Yet one brief isolated safety program was enough to convince them that motorists are blind and deaf...
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Old 03-20-08, 06:17 PM   #3
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"the track record of motorist education programs has not been impressive."

Time to get a bit tougher then. Why is giving up an option?
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Old 03-21-08, 08:09 AM   #4
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I'm impressed that you even got a response. But their response can be summarized to two points: Public safety campaigns aimed at drivers don't work, so we are not going to do them, and the problem is not drivers, its the cyclists, so you only have yourselves to blame.

I take issue with both of the conclusions, especially the conclusion, which they make with absolutely no supporting evidence, that cyclists are to blame in the majority of collissions, but we are talking about the state of Florida, one of the most backward when it comes to cycling.
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Old 03-21-08, 08:34 AM   #5
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Florida has THE highest bicycle fatality rate in the nation, @ 7.3 per million, the national average is 2.58 per million. Who's at fault is just a partial picture, with pedestrians j-walking is a big issue and you could just point your finger at pedestrians and blame them or your could look at why they are j-walking and you would most likely discover it is motorists who are failing to properly yield to pedestrians which results in encouraging them to j-walk, you could also look at the lack of safe crossing opportunities as anther influence of pedestrian crossing behavior, similar situations exist for cyclists. Failure to understand the "big picture" is really sad. If they are not into safety campaigns then ask what they are doing about this problem.
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Old 03-21-08, 08:55 AM   #6
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I take issue with both of the conclusions, especially the conclusion, which they make with absolutely no supporting evidence, that cyclists are to blame in the majority of collissions, but we are talking about the state of Florida, one of the most backward when it comes to cycling.
Well of course they have "supporting evidence..." none of the dead cyclists were able to defend themselves when the motorists said "he swerved in front of me."

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Old 03-21-08, 10:47 AM   #7
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"the track record of motorist education programs has not been impressive."

Time to get a bit tougher then. Why is giving up an option?
Spot-on, Allister!
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Old 03-21-08, 10:50 AM   #8
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Florida has THE highest bicycle fatality rate in the nation, @ 7.3 per million, the national average is 2.58 per million. Who's at fault is just a partial picture, with pedestrians j-walking is a big issue and you could just point your finger at pedestrians and blame them or your could look at why they are j-walking and you would most likely discover it is motorists who are failing to properly yield to pedestrians which results in encouraging them to j-walk, you could also look at the lack of safe crossing opportunities as anther influence of pedestrian crossing behavior, similar situations exist for cyclists. Failure to understand the "big picture" is really sad. If they are not into safety campaigns then ask what they are doing about this problem.
J-walking, [per se, is not a safety problem -- walking in a way which violates a motor vehicle's right-of-way is.

May I be politically incorrect and ask whether the average age of Florida motorists is a factor?
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Old 03-21-08, 10:55 AM   #9
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May I be politically incorrect and ask whether the average age of Florida motorists is a factor?
No but...

One factor is very likely the climate in FL. States with warmer weather year round have higher cyclist (and ped) fatality rates.

Al
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Old 03-21-08, 11:14 AM   #10
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Having suffered this area and sparing a borish rant eco-socio/psch
personality stuff I would flatly aver that it is the mindset of the
S. Fl driver more than any other factor. This is just a mean
area....in stores, restaurants, etc.....driving is just a symptom
of that. In all fairness though, the S.Fl driver will just as soon
run another car off the road too, so its not a cyclist hating phenomenon.
It a personality flaw that a wacked culture has not only let proliferate
but encouraged.
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Old 03-21-08, 11:41 AM   #11
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""The national average bicycle fatality rate between 1986 and 1995 was 3.4 bicyclists per million individuals. In Florida, which had the highest bicycle fatality rate, this rate was more than twice as high - 8.8 bicyclists killed per million. After Florida, the five states with the highest fatality rates were Arizona (7.0), Louisiana (5.9), South Carolina (5.4), and North Carolina (4.5).

Among large metropolitan areas, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida had the highest per capita bicyclist fatality rate -- 9.3 bicyclists per million. Other large metropolitan areas with bicycle fatality rates more than twice the national average included Miami-Hialeah (7.7), Phoenix (7.7), Fort Lauderdale- Hollywood-Pompano Beach (7.7) and Orlando (7.1)."
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Old 03-21-08, 12:10 PM   #12
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It also indicates that the Florida driving test is abysmally inadequate. I've a bit of (all right, a lot) of a bee in my bonnet on the subject. A multi choice paper test and driving round what amounts to a car park with some road layouts and some road signs does not a proper test make.

So, Florida cyclists, how about a concerted campaign to make it more difficult, i.e. a realistic test of the applicants ability to drive in traffic, together with a dedicated section in the theory part on cyclists and their rights which must be passed
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Old 03-21-08, 12:26 PM   #13
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Having suffered this area and sparing a borish rant eco-socio/psch
personality stuff I would flatly aver that it is the mindset of the
S. Fl driver more than any other factor. This is just a mean
area....in stores, restaurants, etc.....driving is just a symptom
of that. In all fairness though, the S.Fl driver will just as soon
run another car off the road too, so its not a cyclist hating phenomenon.
It a personality flaw that a wacked culture has not only let proliferate
but encouraged.
I am suprised you got a response, but the answer is pretty lame. Blame the cyclists. Certainly some cyclists education would not hurt either. I see far to many clueless cyclists riding the wrong way, or running traffic lights thinking that is all OK.

My In-laws spend they Winters in the Boca Raton area. They are always amazed then they get back the the Western NY how nice everyone tends to be around here. They also notice that many people (retirees in particular... and they belong that that age group) in that part of Florida seem feel it is their right to be unreasonably demanding and *****y to EVERYONE. Certainly not all people in Southern Florida are cranky and old, but there are enough of them to leave a major stamp on the area and that is truly sad.

The drivers in Soutern Florida are also the scarriest I've ever experienced! I'll take aggressive NY city drivers over FL drivers any day. At least with an NYC driver if you think they are going to cut you off, they will do it and be consistant. If Boca for instance most roads are 4 or 6 lane roads. Drivers will just go from the right lane and start making a left turn or a U turn, no matter what the traffic conditions... no signal, they just go... VERY scarry stuff. A recent traffic study also listed Miami as the worst drivers in the country.

You would think in an area with such natural beauty that people would sit back and enjoy life. I don't get it. I guess I'll just remain here in the still Frozen North and still have no idea when I can safely remove my studded Winter tire because we keep having Snow/Sleet in the long term forecast. You won't catch me trying to ride a bike a FL.

Happy riding,
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Old 03-21-08, 01:44 PM   #14
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I actually admire what you're trying to do, but I'm not surprised at the response.

A lot of cycling advocacy attempts to conflate safety with convenience.

Is "awareness of cyclists and their legal use of public roads and highways" really a safety issue, or a convenience/comfort issue? Would motorists make more of an effort to avoid cyclists if they were better educated about the rights of cyclists? It stretches credibility. And while it's never pleasant to encounter an ill-informed motorist who honks and screams "get off the road," such a person obviously sees you and is less likely to hit you than someone who is distracted and not looking where they're going.

What you're really advocating for is not really safety, but making the roads more welcoming to cyclists. To a lot of non-cycling types -- perhaps the majority -- the idea of making roads more welcoming is not particularly appealing, to put it mildly. Just read the comments section of any newspaper story related to bicycles. Most political types will stay far, far away from any issue that is unpopular or controversial.
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Old 03-21-08, 01:51 PM   #15
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J-walking, [per se, is not a safety problem -- walking in a way which violates a motor vehicle's right-of-way is.

May I be politically incorrect and ask whether the average age of Florida motorists is a factor?
I doubt it is....it's usually the middle aged and younger that drive in a hostile manner. The old just drive in slow and random ways.

I guess it's easier to say the elderly bad drivers are more annoying than anything else, while the rest of the really bad drivers just love riding your backside and blasting their horn, despite having two whole lanes to the left to pass.

There is a strong "It's MY road" sentiment in this state, and it takes a while to break people of it....I've been riding this route for over 4 years, and I still have to deal with the occaisional fool that thinks a horn will do anything other than annoy me to the point of ringing my bell non stop until they stop humping their horn.
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Old 03-24-08, 01:00 PM   #16
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Among large metropolitan areas, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida had the highest per capita bicyclist fatality rate -- 9.3 bicyclists per million.
How lovely for us. Not at all surprising, but unfortunate.
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Old 03-24-08, 02:18 PM   #17
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There is a strong "It's MY road" sentiment in this state, and it takes a while to break people of it....I've been riding this route for over 4 years, and I still have to deal with the occaisional fool that thinks a horn will do anything other than annoy me to the point of ringing my bell non stop until they stop humping their horn.
Apparently you missed the DOT report that shows how honking works and how to honk properly.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pK0khq7Zgs4





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Old 03-31-08, 04:03 PM   #18
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"The drivers in Soutern Florida are also the scarriest I've ever experienced! I'll take aggressive NY city drivers over FL drivers any day. At least with an NYC driver if you think they are going to cut you off, they will do it and be consistant."

FL Drivers ARE displaced aggressive NYC drivers!

Really the dregs of the nation when it comes to drivers. I scare myself when I think of the conditions I used to ride in. That FDOT letter really answers some questions. I understand you need numbers to get the funding for public safety/health efforts but the key is saturating your message. I would be interested to see what public safety efforts they are referring to. Things like the "share the road" licence plates help, but it is part of a larger more consistent message. You can't just call it quits. Argh, very frustrating. Thank you for contacting them though.
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Old 03-31-08, 04:15 PM   #19
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"The drivers in Soutern Florida are also the scarriest I've ever experienced! I'll take aggressive NY city drivers over FL drivers any day. At least with an NYC driver if you think they are going to cut you off, they will do it and be consistant."
Please don't make us go back through the thread to figure out who you're quoting.
Next time please:


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FL Drivers ARE displaced aggressive NYC drivers!
Not true, most non-natives I run into down here are from Ohio. (Which isn't surprising given the last two Presidential elections)
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Old 03-31-08, 04:35 PM   #20
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Sorry, about the mystery quote.

I agree with your point. The bulk of FL imports i've met are from NY (like myself), OH and MI. Would be interesting to see some stats.
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Old 03-31-08, 05:33 PM   #21
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I too am impressed that you actually got a response. I also agree with the idea that it isn't really an issue that Florida drivers are particularly aggressive towards cyclists - Florida drivers are typically just really rotten in general. As mentioned, it isn't age, it's lack of education and lack of bicycle friendly infrastructure.

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Old 03-31-08, 07:21 PM   #22
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Sorry, about the mystery quote.
It's OK.

off topic: How is it that you've been a member for 2 years and this is your second post?

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I agree with your point. The bulk of FL imports i've met are from NY (like myself), OH and MI. Would be interesting to see some stats.
<shrug> I'm from MN, but I've lived here for 11 years now, sometimes I question the wisdom of the move.
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Old 04-01-08, 02:20 PM   #23
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It's OK.

off topic: How is it that you've been a member for 2 years and this is your second post?


<shrug> I'm from MN, but I've lived here for 11 years now, sometimes I question the wisdom of the move.
I joined before I moved out here to Reno to see if there were any commuter/car free types here. This number of forums/posts on this site are so extensive you don't need to post, unless you want to throw your .02 in. Contemplating a move back, wanted to see if conditions had improved in the last 3 years. Nothing gets me worked up like FL traffic/riding conditions.
Hey, you're in St. Pete, IMO one of the best FL cities. I imagine having a beer outside in Jan is a much different experience in MN, reason enough for me!
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