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Friday, May 20, 2022

City-wide survey aims to increase cycling safety

<p>Taylor Affleck, a 25-year-old Jimmy John’s employee, passes West University Avenue and Buckman Drive on Tuesday afternoon while delivering a sandwich to a customer.</p>

Taylor Affleck, a 25-year-old Jimmy John’s employee, passes West University Avenue and Buckman Drive on Tuesday afternoon while delivering a sandwich to a customer.

Dustin White braced for impact when he heard the rumble of a car behind him. Soon after, the car’s mirror clipped him as he cycled along Williston Road.

The president of Team Florida Cycling can readily recite about half a dozen times vehicles hit him and his friends while they were biking.

“I don’t think I know anyone who has been riding for over year that hasn’t had an incident with a car,” he said.

To access concerns about cycling safety, the city released a public survey Monday to gather information about cycling accidents. The data will identify dangerous areas in Gainesville to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

White remembers an accident that left two UF students seriously injured, one unconscious and another with a punctured lung.

He said this study is a positive step toward keeping cyclists safe.

Debbie Leistner, the public works planning manager, said the city is looking at crash data, policies, transportation education and roadway engineering to develop the safety plan.

“We’re trying to get information from the public,” Leistner said. “It’ll help us develop the plan.”

The city will also use guidelines on pedestrian and bike safety from the Federal Highway Administration in the plan.

The survey focuses on all of Gainesville, but so far, the data has pointed to the four roads that surround UF as problem hot spots.

University Avenue, 13th Street, Archer Road and 34th Street are high-traffic areas that return the highest number of incidents.

The survey looks at individual pockets but also focuses on larger routes people sometimes use to get across town.

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“We’re trying to reach all demographics with this,” said Dekova Batey, the bicycle pedestrian coordinator for the city of Gainesville.

Batey said the safety project started in late spring and was brought to the city’s Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Board in September.

The survey is its first form of public outreach.

“Right now, we’re doing a lot of data analyzation,” Batey said. “We’re looking at hot spot areas of concern to make sure we target certain areas.”

White said the problem with safety may lie in the tight roadways. He said drivers can be negligent by just passing cyclists.

“They don’t see people laying in a hospital breathing through a tube after getting hit by a car,” he said. “They just need to get from point A to point B as fast as possible.”

The survey can be found at www.surveymonkey.com/s/Gainesville-Pedestrian-Bike-Safety.

It will be up until Dec. 21 and will be available in an online digital format, a QR code for smartphones and also in print at facilities like public libraries.

Contact Alex Catalano at acatalano@alligator.org.

Taylor Affleck, a 25-year-old Jimmy John’s employee, passes West University Avenue and Buckman Drive on Tuesday afternoon while delivering a sandwich to a customer.

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