In the early morning of October 30, 2009, a high-school student and his two friends rode their bicycles from one boy’s Miami Shores house to another’s home in North Miami. The cyclists believed they were safe at night because their bikes had front and rear lights.
Their safety lights did not help them. As the student rode his bike along Biscayne Boulevard he was struck and killed by a car his friends say was speeding. “The bicycle was pinned down under the front tire of the car,” according to a witness who arrived at the scene shortly after the accident.
On November 27, 2009, the monthly Critical Mass ride — organized by cyclists demonstrating for their safety — was dedicated to this boy. From the usual starting location at Miami-Dade County Hall in downtown Miami, the ride proceeded north on Biscayne Boulevard to 113th Street, where the student was killed. There his friends and family gathered to place a memorial in his memory.
This case represents another cycling fatality in the state of Florida which has the most in the country. Florida law classifies bicycles as vehicles, giving cyclists the right to use the roadway. After dark, cyclists are required to have bike lights front and rear.
Like other cities, Miami has seen an increase in the popularity of cycling despite streets widely regarded as dangerous to bicyclists, in part because many roads are designed for fast motorized traffic and lack marked bike lanes.
Cycling activists have, without success, requested the Florida Department of Transportation, which manages Biscayne Boulevard, to add bike lanes on that road which is a major north-south cycling route in eastern Miami-Dade County.
This tragic case reminds us that cyclists should always wear helmets, although I am not sure that it would have made a difference here. Even with flashing lights and reflectors on bicycles, a lot of motorists still do not see cyclists on the road. Unfortunately, when a collision occurs between a car and a bicycle, the end result is usually very serious to the cyclist. One of the ways that a cyclist can financially protect himself from the adverse consequences of a collision with a car is to make sure that if he owns an automobile, that he has purchased uninsured motorist coverage. This coverage may extend from the automobile to your bicycle in the event that the at-fault motorist does not have any, or does not have enough, liability coverage for the damages incurred.
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