Bicyclist Killed by Car in Fort Lauderdale

We have altogether too many sad reports of bicyclists being hit in this area. Even worse, the latest incident resulted in the death of the bicyclist. Thursday morning, a car driving east on SR 84 collided with a bicyclist heading south on SW 4th Avenue in Fort Lauderdale. Our sympathies are with the family and friends of the bicyclist.

The Miami Herald reports that the driver of the car had a green light. If that was the case, then the bicyclist either ran a red light (if he was riding on the road) or crossed in front of oncoming traffic. Either one is a bad idea and should never be attempted while riding one’s bicycle. Judging by the photo, the bicycle seems to be on the east side of the intersection. Unless the bicycle was dragged across the intersection, then the bicyclist was either riding the wrong way on the sidewalk or the road.

To prevent sad tragedies like this in the future, we would encourage you to always ride your bicycle in the same direction as traffic, avoid riding on the sidewalk, and follow all the traffic laws. BIKESAFE has more information on why you should not be riding the wrong way or on the sidewalk, and I’m sure Google can turn up hundreds more sites that point out the dangers of riding on the sidewalk and/or riding against traffic. Please ride safely!

9 Responses to “Bicyclist Killed by Car in Fort Lauderdale”

  1. 1 Emperor Tomato

    This is a sad thing. Rider education is super important to keep this from happening. As well as driver awareness, as it stands now, it pays to keep an eye out for peds and cyclists. Ride safely.

  2. 2 maaaty

    I take issue with the assumptions here. From what little we know from the photo and the short Herald article, we can also say that:

    a) The driver was traveling east, into the sun. What is the visibility like on that street and at that time, and was the driver going too fast for conditions? Were his lights on?
    b) The presence of the crate on the bike says that this was someone who used the bike seriously, for moving items around, and thus less likely to be a novice.
    c) Look at the hole in the windshield — unbelievable. Looks like a meteorite hit it. At what vehicle speed does this normally happen?
    d) The driver is wearing a Bud Light shirt and appears to be John McCain’s age. Okay, this isn’t really relevant, but I wanted to add it.

    All I can say is that when I’m driving in Miami (not very often), I drive slowly and carefully enough that the only way I would run over someone would be if that person sprung up out of a manhole. Our risk-taking driving culture here, I would suppose, is to blame.

  3. 3 mike lydon

    Could be a combination of both.

    Was the bicyclist wearing a helmet?

    As much as we would always like to blame the driver, these accidents are quite complicated.

    I will reserve judgment until learning more. Regardless, for all involved it is really tragic, and one that is occurring far too much in South Florida.

  4. 4 JM Palacios

    maaaty, specifically what assumptions do you disagree with? I presented most as either-or possibilities. If you can think of another possibility, say so.

    Local 10 news has some additional information here, saying the bicyclist rode into the vehicle’s path.

    To your point a), I would add that at 6:30 AM, when the accident occurred, the sun had not risen. Sunrise was at 7:11 AM that day. Which actually brings up another question. Was the bicyclist using lights? Either way, visibility would have been pretty low as it was still dark out.

    I believe the speed limit on SR 84 is 45 mph, though I’m not sure about that stretch. But yes, the driver could have been speeding. Nighttime is generally considered a condition where you should drive slower, so even if the driver was going 45 mph he could be ticketed for going too fast for conditions.

    Also, the driver’s age is very relevant. Old age = slower reaction times. Perhaps someone younger could have hit the brakes sooner or swerved around the guy.

    It’s easy to point fingers back and forth. Yes, the motorist could have been more careful. You could also point fingers at government agencies. There are no bike lanes on either SR 84 or SW 4th Ave. Maybe SR 84 is too wide and takes too long to cross…

    There always seems to be a combination of factors in incidents like these. Motorists should drive defensively, I’ll agree. But if you care about your own safety as a bicyclist, you have to be proactive and ride defensively, ready for motorists to do the unexpected. By the one fact we know, that the motorist had a green light, we can see that the bicyclist was not riding defensively. (That’s assuming the traffic light wasn’t malfunctioning, so the bicyclist had neither green light nor walk signal.)

  5. 5 Anonymous

    Good points, JM & Mike. I really wanted to tease out more possibilities as a life was lost and as I can’t figure out what defensive cycling in South Florida even means. My wife is really against my cycling in our new city any longer — and I’ve got 30,000 urban miles to my credit before landing here.

    Mike, I’m not really one to villainize and lock away every bumbling, sleeping, daydreaming driver. Hell, my muscle car-driving high-school self would certainly be doing time if he had ever met on the street my 40-year-old cycling self.

    What I take issue with, and this is not how JM presented it, is the notion that having the green light often absolves the driver of blame and ends further inquiry — and it’s good to see here that the police have not ended it but are seeking witnesses.

    I just wonder if the cyclist could have been caught in the crosswalk (bike malfunction, oil slick) or had crossed on the red because no one was coming. But then someone comes very fast, maybe without lights. Or else something like this:

    Just today, driving north on U.S. 1/South Dixie in the Gables/Grove area I was approaching a red light. I was in the far right lane and no cars were ahead of me — I had a clear path to the intersection. The other lanes were full, two to five cars deep while stopped at the light. Now I don’t drive Miami-style (either full-on gas or full-on brake, with little in-between) but I coast when I can (conservation and all that). Now, I realize that I’m timing this intersection well and am going to hit it at 15-20 MPH when the light turns green. And yes, I have a tailgater who can’t figure out why I’m not rushing to the stoplight so I can brake to a stop and then, duh, start up all over again. I plan on showing my impeccable timing by passing through right after the green but my wife says “Someone’s crossing!” I don’t see anything because plenty of tall vehicles at the intersection block my view of the crosswalk in front of them. I brake to a stop before the line just as the light turns green. Then … then two teenage girls walk in front of the car, teasing each other, oblivious to all else, each talking on a phone. All the northbound traffic was delayed for a few secs as the girls were late/slow in crossing. Now, if I had continued as I had, crossing the intersection at 15-20 MPH right after I got the green, I might have run them over. And I would be the first in line (well, maybe second, behind their parents/loved ones) to blame me, green light or not. Yet I could see where I would be completely absolved, not that that would matter much, as I don’t see how I could recover emotionally.

  6. 6 maaaty

    Ooops, that really, really long post was from me. -maaaty

  7. 7 Andy

    This may or may not be appropriate for this discussion, but I don’t know where else to share my story.

    I was riding in Biscayne yesterday near 62nd street in Miami, and I a bus ran me off the road by slowing down and squeezing me against the curb. I rode fast up to the next stop and ask the bus drive what the hell she was trying to do. She said, “That’s what the side walk is for.” I yelled at her and called her crazy and stupid.

    Motorists aren’t only unaware they are hostile towards bikers. What can we do about that? What can we do when it is Transit employees who are hostile like this?

  8. 8 Ellen

    I would have gotten her name and reported her to Miami Transit Authority. I am about to formulate a response to an incident not as drastic as yours to the Miami Police Department.

  9. 9 Gabriel Lopez-Bernal

    Definitely Andy - I would have suggested getting her name, badge number, etc. or flat out calling the police. What she did is against the law - running another vehicle (yes, your bicycle is a vehicle) off the road.

    Stories like these are unfortunately too common in Miami and other autocentric cities - places where everything else seems to come secondary to the automobile.

    Be careful out there folks…

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