I was prepared and felt so ready. But the Space Coast League of Cities board meeting can only last 45 minutes. A presentation by the Director of the Indian River National Estuary Program was interesting but his fifteen minutes was cutting deeply into what time might be left for me. As it was, never can it be good to be ninth on a time limited agenda ending with the number ten… ‘Adjournment’.
Finally the president announced my item. ” Now we have Rob Downey, ‘Bicycle-vehicle crash statistics.” I looked at my watch showing three minutes remaining but I had a strategy in mind.
“Ladies and gentlemen, there’s not enough time to cover my topic so I’ll ask to be placed at the top of next month’s agenda but I’ll leave you with a handout”. With my request approved I went around the table giving out a seven page document I’d spent hours creating while explaining what they were receiving and why. My thirty copies were enough for the Brevard County mayors, managers and representatives in the room.
“Now you’ll have a chance to review the statistics and information. You may even want to get a password to the remarkable website for use by Florida government officials providing access to a traffic statistics database.” I could see this was something in which they were interested as they turned the pages.
Then something really gratifying happened when the mayor of Cape Canaveral spoke. Mayor Randalls put his hand on my shoulder. “Two weeks ago after receiving Mayor Downey’s first email about this subject, I asked for advice about our city’s ‘Better Streets Program’. Some things he told us are being considered and we’ve actually had our planners go out and ride our streets on their bicycles!”
Later when looking for a hard to find open dinner seat for the regular monthly meeting I happened upon a perfect window view looking out to the boat docks of the Eau Gallie Yacht Club. In the near distance I could see the tip of Merritt Island and the swim training route I’ve done so many times. Sitting next to me was the Director of the Chamber of Commerce who 20 years ago was one of my most hard to beat age group competitors in running 5ks. Across from me was Maurice Sterling who had been the earlier speaker for the Indian River recovery program. Someone at the table asked, “Rob, you swim out there don’t you? ” My answer ‘yes’ brought a response from Mr. Sterling…”Tell me about that…” And so started the beginning to a good dinner conversation, an evening touching it all… swim-bike-run.
Below are some pieces from my seven page hand-out that included spread sheets, graphs, photos and quotes from Brevard County riders:
” I was hit by cars twice… fortunately not hurt. In one case I was just bumped and we went on our way. In the other I went up on the hood of the car. He stopped and I slid off into the middle of Palm Bay Road. I just had a scrapped knee and bent bike pedal where it caught in the grille. The driver was an off duty cop. I don’t know if he reported it. I continued my bike ride.” M. M.
“I was hit on A1A going south. Impact was in front of Cantina Dos Amigos. The driver was going north, took a left turn in front of me and I impacted the side of his vehicle at almost full speed.
After the incident the driver who was 85 years old got out and yelled at me for not stopping. He felt it was up to me to avoid him. He proceeded to walk into the restaurant and sit down. Minor bruises and scrapes and a very broken bike. His insurance paid for all of it but he never apologized and actually said he saw me and was not concerned about me impacting his vehicle. He actually thought I should pay for the damage to his car.” G. P.
This is an example of a bike lane providing safe travel to the left of cars parallel parked with width adequate for opening a driver’s door.
“Intentionally hit by the mirror on a pickup truck on Emerson between Malabar and Minton. Clipped on the left shoulder. Truck sped off.” L.L.
‘Sharrows’ are bike symbols with two chevrons indicating bicycles have the right to fully occupy the traffic lane. This reminds drivers that bicycles need space to travel safely.
“I’ve been involved in many crashes over the years. In one, a car westbound on 192 made a right hook onto Airport Blvd. I slammed into the passenger side door and it was an old couple looking straight at me. They sped away as I hit the ground.” P.M.Many drivers are not aware of Florida law dictating a 3′ space be given between a motor vehicle and a cyclist.
I was hit going west bound on Indrio Rd., Ft Pierce. Coming out of a side street a driver took a left in front of me. He managed to get his car stopped and I got cut up as I raked across the front of his car. He sped off. My hand needed stitches”. T.D.
Michael Kaier was riding his red Trek 330 southbound on Fiske Blvd on May 1, 2014. He crossed the I-95 overpass toward the traffic light that allows cars to turn left to enter the ramp to I-95. As he approached the light, the bike lane ended and was also confronted with an uneven section of road surface caused by spilled concrete. Reacting to the situation he moved into the vehicle lane where a startled driver hit him from behind. A ‘ghost bike’ now marks the location of the tragedy.
“An auto making a left turn into a gas station hit me as I was going straight. It was dark outside at the time but I had headlights on”. P.E.