Thursday, July 23, 2015

From the Broward New Times: more Florida bicyclists killed by cars

This is on the heels of another bicyclist killed in Stuart by a large commercial truck. The New Times' Andrea Richard has this news about two more bicyclists killed in Broward County:
     Colleen Lynn Berzok, 37, a children’s swimming instructor in Coral Springs, was struck by a car Monday night, July 13, and was pronounced dead the following afternoon. The collision, still under investigation, occurred at the 2800 block of E. Sunrise Blvd., a stone's throw from Fort Lauderdale Beach, by a driver who remained on the scene, according to FLPD, which has yet to release the identity. Out in Weston just a few days later, on Friday, July 17, bicycle rider Steven Caine, 51, father and CEO of Larry Kline Meats, was struck by driver Michael Chatman, 30, and killed around 5:30 p.m.
     Florida leads the nation in fatal bicycle and pedestrian crashes, according to a 2013 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
     “Florida is dead last,” says Florida Atlantic University Professor of Urban Regional Planning Eric Dumbaugh. “We have the highest rates of pedestrian/vehicle fatalities in the nation.” [emphasis added]
     Dumbaugh purports that South Florida’s street are simply poorly designed for multimodal transportation use. The posted speeds, such as 45 mph, are too fast for pedestrians to share the road safely with vehicles.
Unfortunately the death of Austin Gilliam is slowing fading into the past and will soon be completely forgotten by most, except for the family of course. Austin only did what DOT signs instructed him to do: "share the road" and it cost him his life.

The New Times reporter quotes a bicyclist from Ft. Lauderdale that for those familiar with the story, don't do much to help the cause. I've followed the police accounts of that incident when a bicyclist was arrested during a Critical Mass ride in Fort Lauderdale and also heard first hand accounts of witnesses. The accounts in the New Times begin with the minutes prior to the confrontation and not with what started it all, the fifteen to twenty minutes leading up to the arrest.

The people I talked to who were there that day decided never to attend a Fort Lauderdale Critical Mass ride again after watching how some behaved, including the cyclist quoted in the New Times. Frankly, if we're going to be honest about bicycle safety we can't place all the blame on motor vehicles; bicyclists share responsibility and need to establish good will with the motoring public and police.