While another bicyclist is on life support today after being hit by a car on Davie Blvd., cyclists in Boca Raton took matters into their own hands. Apparently the driver of a Lexus passed them too closely, so they attacked him and damaged his car when they caught up to him at the light. Read and watch a great one-sided story over at the Sun-Sentinel, where they apparently only interviewed the motorist and the cops who arrested one of the cyclists. What is clear from the article is that the motorist honked at them as he approached and then passed them too closely (presumably in violation of Florida’s three foot passing law) and probably even hit one of the bicyclists. Now, even though I have had many incidents with motorists where I felt like punching them in the face, I don’t approve of the bicyclists’ actions here. Neither do I approve of the police taking the side of the motorist against a group of eyewitness cyclists and ignoring the witness reports that a cyclist was hit. At the very minimum, Barish, the “victim” motorist, should be charged with violating the three foot passing law. However, I have spoken with police before about a motorist who passed me too closely; and they refuse to do anything unless they saw it.
I think an issue that this brings up is how useless the three foot passing law is. As long as police refuse to enforce it and motorists don’t know anything about it, what good does it do? I believe we need both motorist education and a change in police policy and practice regarding this and other bicycling related laws. If you have any ideas, share them in the comments.
Anyone a fan of X-Men? Apparently we have some cyclists who believe this is a war and want to strike back. Perhaps they can form the Brotherhood of Cyclists? Others, like myself, want peace between motorists and bicyclists. Shall we form a group of Wheelmen?
11 Bicyclists were struck by a cab driver this morning while bicycling across the Macarthur Causeway. Although one remains listed in critical condition, fortunately no one was killed. The cab driver admitted to falling asleep, inadvertently sending 6 of the 11 bicyclists to the hospital.
Reactions to the accident have been mixed. What were bicyclists doing on the Macarthur? Why was a cab driver, likely working the graveyard shift, still on the road? Why won’t those damn bicyclists get on the sidewalks where they belong?
These are just some of the comments over at the Herald’s online news comments section. Normally, I can’t stomach the inanity of reader comments that follow most Herald articles, but this particular story and its attendant comments provide remarkable insight into several important issues.
1) The Macarthur Causeway is a limited access highway. In almost all cases, bicyclists are prevented from riding only these types of roads because of the elevated level of danger they present. Yet, the Macarthur is actually designated with signage as a Bicycle Route. Here in Miami, it seems we promote bicycling on only the most dangerous street for bicyclists and leave the safest ones unmarked. What a terribly backward twist on an already poor situation. Today’s accident is a case in point, and it is a wonder that more accidents do not occur. It is my opinion that the Macarthur needs to either be improved dramatically so that all users will be safe (including pedestrians) or the designated Bicycle Route sign needs to be removed, as its existence only promotes bicycling along an unsafe highway, that quite frankly, is not designed for bicycle safety where bicyclists need it the most. Save your own live, take the Venetian Causeway instead. It may leave your two blocks further north, but believe me it is worth it.
2) Motorist education is sorely needed. Now. Not tomorrow. Now. Most motorists seem relatively clueless about traffic laws here in Miami, let alone how to overtake bicyclists safely. Police must start enforcing traffic laws in this city, although perhaps they should learn to follow them first.
3) Bicycle safety education is needed as well. In this instance, it seems the bicyclists were not engaging in unsafe riding practices. However, as a daily commuter I can’t even count the amount of times I have seen fellow bicyclists take their own lives into their hands just to run a red light. Bicyclists and motorists must learn traffic safety laws and heed them.
4) Hostility toward bicyclists in this city is out of control. Ignorance to the benefits of bicycling comes in all forms here in Miami, but motorists must understand that not only do bicyclists have a right to the road, they are also out there lessening traffic congestion and pollution and promoting a livable city.
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