ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- In just a matter of days last week, there were three car vs. bicycle crashes in St. Augustine.
All this just before a planned meeting Monday to study what's really going on with bicycling in the nation's oldest city.
"Bicycles are a great way to get around. There's no doubt about it," Heather Neville said, a bicycle advocate in St. Augustine with a group called VeloFest.
"Riding a bike is a popular, easy, economic, healthy way to get around," she noted.
The City of St. Augustine agrees. It is placing more bicycle racks around the city and has issued press releases encouraging people to ride their bikes to local events such as the Rhythm and Ribs festival this past weekend.
However, Neville notes the number of crashes is going up, but so is the number of people riding bikes.
The latest research comes from focus groups and numbers collected between 2005 and 2009 and compiled in the St. Augustine Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Research. It was collected by the City of St. Augustine and the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization.
Neville said it shows, "90 percent of collisions were locals." That means most crashes did NOT include tourists. And she pointed out that in only 39 percent of the crashes someone got a ticket.
"The results did not result in a citation and so police aren't event issuing tickets," Neville said.
Another number that caught Neville's eye: 14 percent were hit and run cases. With frustration in her voice she said, "How does this keep happening?"
She added, that "Many of the cases are not what you think. Alcohol was less than 10 percent. And age group? It was all over the place."
Neville said that means "the bicycle is becoming more mainstream among everyone so educating everyone is what will be important about how to be on the roads together."
The city's goal is to create a bicycle and safety and education campaign which will come out if the fall, Neville said.