Florida Paper Pushes For Bike Safety With Aggressive Reporting

"You don’t have to be a reporter divorced from humanity."

While there is a certain element of danger to bicycling, particularly for the klutzes among us, some places are more hostile to bicyclists than others -- and no state is worse for bikers than the state of Florida

In an effort to do something about it, the News-Press in Fort Myers, Florida, created a reporting series and accompanying campaign around bicycle safety, the Columbia Journalism Review’s Susannah Nesmith reports. Lee County, of which Fort Myers is the county seat, was ranked among the 10 worst places for bicyclist fatalities in a 2013 report from the Florida Department of Transportation

Centered on a “Share the Road” page on the newspaper’s website and a community page on Facebook, the project verges on advocacy but still offers robust reporting. The page features stories that include an analysis of bicycle crash data and a comprehensive package profiling each of the 12 locals who were killed in bike crashes over a year priod. The Facebook page has attracted nearly 750 likes as of this writing. 

Another story featured on the page, “Bicycling: 7 Cities That Will Make Florida Riders Jealous,” offers examples of places throughout the country that have succeeded in easing tensions between drivers and bicyclists.

While the project has yet to have a legislative impact, Janine Zeitlin, one of the News-Press staffers who initiated the project, believes it is increasing awareness of the problem in their community.

“You don’t have to be a reporter divorced from humanity," Zeitlin told CJR.


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