As a former bicycle racer and as a Florida bicycle injury attorney, I know that South Florida is a very dangerous place to ride a bicycle. The tragic death of Aaron Cohen, a 36 year old Miami father and husband, mowed down in a hit and run car crash Miami’s Key Biscayne–Miami-Dade’s most popular cycling circuit–causes one to question how these types of catastrophes can be avoided. Mr. Cohen’s death occurred nearly two years from the day that Christophe LeCanne, another cyclist, lost his life in virtually the same place.
Triathlete Thomas Jennings is recovering in a Kendall trauma center after he was hit by a car in Northwest Miami-Dade. He suffered a shattered knee and an open fracture that required screws, bolts, and a plate to put back together.
Like many Miami cyclists, Mr. Jennings and Mr. Cohen have the responsibility of supporting young children. A catastrophic car crash can leave a family both physically and financially devastated. According to statistics, severe head injuries account for about one third of hospital emergency room visits for all bicycle-related injuries.
Florida has very specific laws regarding how to ride a bicycle on public streets. Florida Statute §316.003(2) defines a “bicycle” as a vehicle that is human powered and capable of achieving speeds over 20 mph. Florida Statute Section 316.2065 mandates that bicycles ridden after sunset and before sunrise have a front white light that is visible from at least 500 feet and a rear red light that is visible from 600 feet.
Anyone riding a bicycle under 16 years of age must wear a properly fitting helmet that is certified by a nationally recognized safety association. The law also requires that one hand be kept on the bars at all times.
According to Florida Statutes §316.2065(10) and (11), cyclists are permitted to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk and are provided with all of the rights and duties that are applicable to a pedestrian in the same circumstances.
Key Biscayne is often used by cyclists to train because of its central location, the bridge, and breathtaking views of the Miami skyline. However, in reality, Miami offers little alternatives. The recent epidemic of bicycle/car collisions highlights the immediate need for Key Biscayne to be made safer. I recommend the speed limit be lowered to 20 mph for all cars and trucks and a greater police presence on both the east and west bound road from the toll booths to the Village of Key Biscayne. I would also recommend more signs that flash, reminding drivers to be cautious and on the look out for cyclists, and the complete blocking of one entire lane for bicycle use in the early morning hours between 5-9 AM.
As a MIramar bicycle crash injury lawyer I recommend that all cyclists always use a bicycle helmet that has been properly fitted, as they are the most effective means in reducing the severity of a head, brain, and upper facial injury. We also urge all cyclists to make sure they have valid uninsured motorist coverage on their car insurance to protect them in the event they are hit by a car with little or no insurance coverage available to compensate them for medical expense, lost wages and injuries. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of these cyclists.