There was a horrific accident in Venice, Florida, in late October. It involved four experienced bicyclists between the ages of 55 and 67. They were struck from behind by a motor vehicle driven by a 91-year-old woman. All four bicyclists were hospitalized. One of them died.
The cyclists were riding together in a bike lane at about 8:30 a.m. As they approached an intersection at which they intended to turn left, they exited the bike lane to cross two lanes and enter a left turn lane. The motorist was traveling the same direction and struck all of them.
From the evidence at the scene, the motorist did not appear to brake until after hitting the four cyclists. Some of the rear wheels of the bikes looked like they had exploded. They were in pieces detached from the bikes. The motor vehicle’s windshield was smashed from one or more impacts. When she drove her car to a stop, the motorist did not pull over to the side of the road. She turned around and stopped, facing the wrong direction, in the lane in which she struck the bicyclists.
A second crash occurred in Davie in west Broward County on State Road 84, which is adjacent to I-75, Alligator Alley. The crash occurred the Sunday morning after Thanksgiving. A 33-year-old woman motorist struck a group of bicyclists from behind, killing two cyclists and injuring four others.
The purpose here is not to place blame on the motorists. It is to discuss how cyclists can ride their bicycles as safely as possible. This crash implicates several safety issues.
One is that the crashes occurred on roads with at least a 45 mile per hour speed limit. As we are all aware, riding with faster vehicles is more dangerous than riding with vehicles going more slowly. In addition, the Florida Department of Transportation recommends against putting bicycle signs on roads with speed limits in excess of 30 mph. This means fewer warnings to motorists of bicyclists. The Broward crash occurred on a road with no bike lane. So the bicyclists were sharing a road with high speed motor vehicles.
These crashes occurred with the bicycles and the motor vehicles traveling east in the morning. The sun was facing them, meaning the sun may have obscured the riders from the motorists. The Broward motorist said the bright sun hindered her ability to see the cyclists.
The Venice crash also occurred as the riders were attempting a left turn. To do so, riders may turn from the right side of the left turn lane. By being in the right side of the turning lane, the riders can turn into the bike lane after the turn. Motorists going faster than the cyclist can pass them without crossing paths. In this case, the riders never made it to the turn lane, with tragic results.
These crashes occurred at the beginning of the winter season. They are a warning to all bicyclists to take care for your safety.
To read more about bicycle safety, go to www.zelmanandhanlon.com/blog/