Flagler County is the only place in Central Florida with zero bike fatalities since 2017

Safety record is combination of planning, active enforcement

Florida is one of the most dangerous places in the U.S. for bicycle riders. More cyclists die on Florida roads than on most other roads in the country.

In 2019, 160 bicycle riders were killed in crashes in Florida. In 2018, 142 died.

However, Flagler County is one of the safest counties in Florida for bike riders and the safest in Central Florida, statistically, at least in 2018 and 2019.

Flagler is the only county in Central Florida with no bicycle crash-related deaths in 2018 and 2019.

Flagler County Sheriff's Office Commander Gerald Ditolla, who leads the patrol and bicycle units, said Flagler's safety record is a combination of good planning, active enforcement, and a little luck.

Ditolla said all of the major roads in Flagler County's largest city, Palm Coast, have sidewalks.

"So if you're walking somewhere and you want to ride your bike to the store, you can utilize the sidewalk and not the roadway," Ditolla said. "So that's a big plus. And that's on all the main roads pretty much."

Ditolla said the sidewalks are extra wide to accommodate walkers and riders.

Many roads also have bike lanes for cyclists who prefer to ride in the street.

And the 125 miles of nature trails help keep riders off the street.

"You could go from Colbert Lane to Palm Coast, Belle Terre Parkway and US 1," Ditolla said. "That's pretty much all over the county."

Ditolla said regular enforcement, ticketing dangerous drivers who contribute to crashes is also key, as well as teaching children how to ride safely.

Bike Unit Deputy Joe Barnett said each year, the Flagler County Sheriff's Office hands out thousands of donated helmets free to children at bike safety events called "bike rodeos."

"I believe one of the reasons that we hand out so many helmets and educate the kids is why the fatality level is so low," Barnett said. "It also promotes your parents not getting a ticket that they have to pay for."

Sumter County had zero bicycle fatalities in 2018 and Seminole County had zero bike fatalities in 2019.

Orange County had nine in 2018 and six in 2019.

Brevard County had five in 2018 and five in 2019.

Volusia County had six in 2018 and four in 2019.

Osceola County had four in 2018 and three in 2019.

Marion County had four in 2018 and one in 2019.

Lake County had two in 2018 and one in 2019.

Sumter County had zero in 2018 and one in 2019.

Seminole County had two in 2018 and zero in 2019.

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About the Author:

Erik von Ancken anchors and reports for WKMG-TV News 6 (CBS) in Orlando and is a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist in the prestigious and coveted "On-Camera Talent" categories for both anchoring and reporting. Erik joined the News 6 News Team in 2003 days after the tragic loss of space shuttle Columbia.