COCOA, Fla. – As the cycling tourism industry continues to grow, parties in Florida are working to improve safety for those bike riders.

What You Need To Know

  • Cocoa will vote on the proposed changes on Tuesday

  • Plans to shift U.S. Bicycle Route 1 in Florida have been in the works since 2019

  • Currently the route runs along U.S. 1 and State Road A1A in Brevard County

During Tuesday night’s planned city council meeting, the City of Cocoa plans to discuss a resolution that would approve the realignment of U.S. Bicycle Route 1 (USBR 1) through the city. 

The current layout of the map has USBR 1 primarily riding along either State Road A1A or U.S. 1. 

Current USBR 1:

The proposed change would instead shift much of the bicycle traffic onto the following streets:

  • Indian River Dr/CR 515
  • Viera Blvd.
  • Holiday Springs Rd.
  • N. Pinehurst Ave.
  • N. Riverside Dr.
  • 6th Ave.
  • Brevard Ave/CR515 (NB uses Delannoy Ave/Willard St.)
  • Church St.
  • N. Wickham Rd.
  • Parkway Dr. 
  • Pineapple Ave.
  • Montreal Ave./SR 518
  • Eau Gallie Causeway
  • N. Riverside Dr.

Proposed USBR 1

Kerry Irons, a volunteer and advocate with the Adventure Cycling Association, helped develop the National Corridor Plan, a “blueprint for U.S. Bicycle Route development,” a network that will consist of about 50,000 miles once complete. He has been working with partners in Florida on this initiative since 2019. 

He said the proposed shift would be a way to help bring cyclists off of busier thoroughfares and onto safer city and county roads. 

The Outdoor Industry Association noted in a 2017 study that bicycle tourism adds about $83 billion annually to the U.S. economy. It also creates about $97 billion in retail spending and about 848,000 jobs.

Here in Florida, a 2010-11 economic impact survey found that just three trails in Orange County were used by 1.7 million people annually and provided $32.6 million for the county. 

Moving bicyclists away from more traveled roads can also removed them from more potentially distracted drivers. A five-year survey of Brevard County crashes by the Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) found that total crashes went up in 2021, the first time in a few years.

Total crashes rose 13.9 percent from 13,347 in 2020 to 15,217 in 2021. Serious and fatal injury crashes also increased 1.8 percent from 444 to 452. 

The reason behind the crashes: distracted driving. Crashes related to both impaired driving and speeding dropped from 2020 to 2021, but distracted driving-related crashes went up.

Kim Smith, the safety coordinator for the Space Coast TPO, said areas like U.S. 1 and A1A are statistically more likely to have more accidents involving bicyclists because they operate at higher speeds.

“Those are the type of corridors where we have more crashes and there’s always a risk. We wouldn’t suggest anybody ride out there that’s not a very experienced cyclist,” Smith said.

Irons noted that any type of signage that would be placed along the new, proposed routes would have to be funded either at the local or state level.

“We have worked with states and localities on signing projects and finding money is typically the barrier,” Irons said. “With the availability of on-line maps and on-bike GPS units, many riders rely on electronic navigation rather than physical signs, but signs also serve the purposes of letting motorists know that they are on a bike route and raising local awareness of the route.  FDOT has not suggested they are in preparation to sign USBRs in Florida.”