Bicycle Crisis On Brevard Roads

Signal Four

On my Face Book timeline  the morning March 12, 2014 I wrote ‘This is what makes my sport a living nightmare. I woke this morning to see a post from 2 hours earlier…’ Patrick Greene had included a photo with his description…
“Scene this morning at Sebastian Inlet. Car hit a rider. Rider was taken away in an ambulance. Looked like a triathlete in training from the black TT Trek with Aero bars I saw under the front of the car. Say a prayer!”

Flashing blue lights… and as always you hope it’s not someone you know. That hope was gone within a few hours.

 

Seb Bridge c

I’ll be mayor of my Town until November and during the time remaining, maybe can have some influence upon  municipal and county officials. Today I sent this message to officials of the Brevard Transportation Planning Organization and all fifteen of the other Brevard mayors. You got to start somewhere again.

Good morning ,

As most of you may know I’ve been a triathlete (swim, bike & run) for many
years including five years, 2002-2006, when I was awarded All-America age
group honors. I’ve spent many hours training on my bike using Brevard’s
roads and experiencing the temperament of Brevard’s drivers. Most memorable
was in 2006 when I was fortunately uninjured in a hit & run crash. I’ll
never forget pulling myself and bike off the pavement of SR A1A and seeing
the woman drive away. Her passenger-side rear view mirror was dangling by
it’s power cord sending up a shower of sparks as it dragged on the asphalt.
She was never found. Soon after, I became Advocacy Officer for the cycling
club Space Coast Velo Sport for three years.

With that background I’ve become ever more concerned and disturbed by what
I’ve seen and heard from my fellow athletes. Recently I discovered and was
provided access to a password protected Florida data base described here:

“Florida Signal Four Analytics is an interactive, web-based system designed
to support the crash mapping and analysis needs of law enforcement, traffic
engineering, transportation planning agencies, and research institutions in
the state of Florida. This system is developed by the GeoPlan Center at the
University of Florida, and funded by the state of Florida through the
Traffic Records Coordinating Committee (TRCC).”

The information provided is remarkably detailed and updated every 24 hours
to include every Florida police agency crash report since approximately the
year 2000. As relating to bicycle/car crashes, the information is truly
alarming. By some standards the 2013 numbers confirm  Brevard County just
may have been the most dangerous county in the most dangerous state in the
entire United States! I don’t suggest this possibility without facts to
verify what I say.

2013 was a bloody year for bicycle riders in Brevard with 10 fatalities.
Consider the five boroughs of New York City with a population of 8.3 million
having 18 bike/car crash fatalities in 2012. On a per capita basis, with a
population of 550,000, Brevard experienced a rate 8 times greater than NYC’s
2012 record.
Brevard’s status among Florida Counties is dismal. While Broward and Orange
had higher per capita bike/car crashes, Brevard had a stunning 10 deaths
compared to Broward’s 11 deaths and a population more than three times
greater. On a per capita basis it’s safer to ride a bike in Miami-Dade County.

Below are six counties I’ve used for comparison:

County             Population      B/C Crashes                Rate                          Per Thousand

Broward            1.8 million            968                          1 per 1,859                     .54/1000
Orange              1.2 million             568                           1 per 2,112                      .47/1000
Brevard               550,000               243                          1 per 2,263                     .44/1000
Hillsborough   1.3 million             549                          1 per 2,327                     .42/1000
Miami-Dade     2.6 million          1009                          1 per 2,576                    .39/1000
Duval                    880,000              335                           1 per 2,625                    .38/1000

Brevard had a bike/car crash rate of one every 36 hours. Cyclists
experienced injury in those crashes at a rate of one every 47 hours.

Brevard 2013 Statistics:

243 bike/car crashes
186 injured cyclists (one injury every other day)
24 incapacitating injuries
10 deaths

Note that a cyclist was injured in 76% of the crashes with 10% being
incapacitating injuries.

Considering the 2013 bike/car crash number of 243, during the next five
years an estimated 1,215 cyclists will be hit by cars in Brevard County.
This amounts to one in every 452 people of Brevard’s population
experiencing a bike/car crash sometime during a five year period.
If it can be assumed just 33% of the population will ride during a five year
period, chance of being a rider in a bike/car crash becomes one in 150
sometime during that period.

I could continue with more numbers showing 2014 is on track to have
slightly more crashes though thankfully with fewer fatalities. But hopefully
what I’ve listed above  is adequate for now. My real concern is what
can be done to reverse a trend?

Sources tell me the complete reconstruction of Riverside Drive
(Melbourne-Indialantic) will not include bike lanes… just as the recent
completed section of Wickham Rd. I read police reports for his four mile
section of Riverside where two crashes occurred (6/05/10 and 2/29/12) in
which cars were cited for passing too close, hitting cyclists from the rear.
Actually, one was a hit & run with driver not found. Poor road design as it
applies to bicycles continues to be a major issue in Brevard County. The
most recent death in April happened because where Fiske Blvd ends and
becomes Stadium Pwky into Viera at the I-95 overpass, the bike lane ended
forcing the rider into the vehicle lane, into the path of a startled driver.
A ‘Sharrow’ (bike symbol) painted in the vehicle lane prior to the bike lane
ending to warn the driver might have prevented the fatal crash. Sharrows
painted in appropriate locations is one of several ideas for advancing
bicycle safety.

Reading numerous police reports from the Signal Four Analytics website has
provided me an overview of causes with blame rightly assigned to riders,
drivers, and road creators. I could go on with so much more but my main
purpose is to suggest that as mayors we should ask for more of  our County
administrators who are building roads which we desperately need, with
more concern for the bike/car problem. I hope the statistics provide a jolt
to those who may not have realized the situation… even as an informed
rider, I was startled by the numbers and this effects all of our
communities.

Thanks,
Mayor Rob Downey
Town of Melbourne Village

John R. Mathers 2 Mile Cross River Swim

Saturday, October 4th at 8:30am swimmers, kayaks, and SUPs will cross the Indian River ending their 2+ mile trip on the beach of Squid Lips restaurant. From there, swimmers will have a choice of running, cycling or driving back to Oars & Paddles Park where most will have left cars parked. Some swimmers may wear fins.

Click for Link to Facebook Page With Details

Athletes can lock bikes, position running shoes and park kayak-SUP transport vehicles at Squid Lips.  Car pool to Oars & Paddles Park, leave cars and walk across Mathers Bridge and turn  down the narrow road leading to Dragon Point. Vince Lamb and his family have graciously offered their dock for people to enter the water, the seventh home south of the bridge. 

 

Swimming a very short distance north, all will gather at the location of the old Mathers Bridge Fish Camp dock once jutting from the steep rocky shoreline. .

The Life of John R. Mathers

The painting is of John Mathers done 20 years after his death and displayed in Mathers Bridge Restaurant until it’s demolition in the early 1990’s.

Mathers came to Brevard at age 19, living in Eau Gallie. and offered a job at a pineapple plantation on South Merritt Island. Given a choice of payment in either cash or land if agreeing to stay with the job for at least two years, he decided on the option  of S. Merritt Island land. His immediate challenge however, was having  no way to get to his new job since it would be years later  the Eau Gallie Causeway was built. For an unknown length of time before he could afford a boat, John Mathers swam across the river each day. It is the story grand daughter Lola Mathers Haskins told me twenty years ago and never forgotten.

John Mathers proved  very enterprising and over many years, aquired additional large sections of S. Merritt Island. Eventually he built Mathers Bridge as a toll bridge to the island.  Some may remember the noisy wood plank bridge. I remember the rumble of cars from a 1/2 mile away while living in my parents boathouse in 1981. Now the bridge features the former swing span of the Melbourne Causeway but the old bridge was found to be quite a feat of engineering according to FDOT when the span was rebuilt in 1982.

 The Swim September 15th

After swimming south and passing Dragon Point conditions of wind and water surface will determine whether to swim parallel along the south or north side of the Eau Gallie Causeway. At the manatee sign near the relief bridge, if the wind is northerly, people can swim under the relief bridge. This was done last year when the wind picked up to 2o mph.

Click on Images to expand to full size

    

 People are encouraged to stay relatively close to the causeway, keeping within the manatee zone for protection and proximity to shallow water. However the crossing route each person may take is of free choice. This swim-paddle has no sponsor or organizer and  information is offered only to be helpful. It is not a race. Though there will likely be unofficial escorts, everyone should make whatever arrangements to provide for their own safety. I know the route I personally take will not be the shortest but will account for boat traffic. A good location for launching kayaks and SUPs is this small beach across from the boat launch ramp. Parking is legal 14′ off the pavement.

There is parking at Squid Lips as shown.

As with the  Bridge to Bridge swim, we can try to pre-match swimmers with escorts.  Please know  you are totally responsible for your own safety. Squid Lips has allowed us to land on their beach and position our gear but has no liability or means of protecting anything of value. Bring a bicycle cable lock to secure to the railings.

Complete series of KLD Gran Fondo Video Now Posted

The  first of the videos has now been joined with three more documenting the 110 mile race from starting line to podium awards.  There was so much to work with but editing brought out what I believe were most of the best moments. Again in  2013 this was an honor and joy to follow with the driving of ‘Jimmy’ from Melbourne Mercedes-Porshe-Audi. I spent a good part of the day standing on the leather back seat  in my white socks, holding the GoPro on the wand over, under and between riders… another  fantastic experience recording the work of great athletes. Click Here to be redirected to the Cycling Page, or click above on the banner headings

The Melbourne Village Bike-Pedway Trails

GOPR1905Ar

In the past week I added a new page under the banner. This page titled Melbourne Village Bike-pedways is devoted to the cause of creating a perimeter trail around and through the center of Melbourne Village.  Many MTB’ers and runners have known of the Village trail system and have used these trails for years.  However these are technically off-limits to anyone not belonging to the HOA, known as the American Homesteading Foundation to which almost all TMV residents belong. These trails are open to all just once each year for the annual Founders’ Day 3 mile run. As mayor of the Town of Melbourne Village I’m in a good position to advocate for a new set of trails that would be public and allow for additional competitive events. I invite you to click on the page title above or this link for the Bike-pedways for  photos, video, maps and narrative for this project.

Melbourne Music Marathons, Febuary 3, 2013

Video Link to Melbourne Music Half Marathon

Results 

One year ago I purchased a GoPro 2 camera. It was three days before the Melbourne Music Marathon and my  first ‘adventure’ in making a race video.  Twelve months and several videos later having recorded swimming, running, cycling, triathlons and our various family occasions, I now post the 2013 version of the race I started with last year. I’m still very much an amateur, having fun, and since ESPN isn’t here to replace me yet I’ll do one of these movies occasionally.

 This movie focuses a lot on six male runners:

Finishing order: Kevin Castille 1:06:43 bib 1, Ulrich Steidel 1:07:07 bib 3, Ronnie Holassie 1:10:00 bib 1090,Tracy Lokken 1:10:06 bib 4, Malcolm Campbell 1:10:29 bib 2, Kevin Collins 1:11:33 bib 153.

group

After recording much of the mob start, Al Steiginga motorpaced me with his scooter 2.5 miles to catch the lead runners. Castille had  maintained his lead from the line with Steidel :10 behind. The remaining four stayed as a group 1:24 behind at the 4 mile mark. Holassie and Lokken continued shoulder to shoulder  when I left them on Riverside as I chased down the two leaders on the Melbourne Causeway. Campbell and Collins were each running solo behind the four ahead.C-Sr

The edit has more than 70 clips in seven minutes, pulled from  more than 90 minutes of recording. Be sure to use the YouTube sprocket icon to adjust the resolution quality to suit your bandwidth-internet speed.

N-Sr

I thank the athletes for allowing me close proximity. I try to be careful and none have ever complained when talking after. Some angles you see are quite different from what TV guys get when doing races. But they don’t ride a MTB with one hand holding a camera wand and the other a handlebar. It helps  I’m a runner, cyclist and still photographer by profession. Hope you like watching as much as I do filming. Rob Downey

Video Link to the 2013 Melbourne Music Half Marathon