Even the police officers are doing it.
Recently I’ve been seeing a lot in the news about ‘Hit and Run’ incidents. More specifically between vehicles and either pedestrians or cyclists. One of the drivers was even a member of law enforcement. Driving away could mean the difference of life and death for those involved. I understand that in some instances the pedestrians or cyclists were being unsafe. However consider the same situations involving your loved ones. Would you want someone to drive away leaving them on the side of the road? How would you feel about a person after finding out they were the ones that kept driving?
When I tried googling “cyclists killed” or “Pedestrians killed” I was shown results that already included the state or Florida. Titles such as Florida bike deaths lead the nation, or Florida is the deadliest state for walkers and cyclists. Starting to see the problem? For those who are quick to say that it’s the tourists that are causing the problems I can promise it’s not. After almost a year on the streets here It is rare that someone from another state causes me any issues.
Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act
Recently in Tallahassee action has taken place to impose stricter punishments for those involved in these accidents. A driver by the name of Michele Traverso Struck and killed a cyclist, Aaron Cohen. An article in the Tampa Bay Times gives a brief description of the new bill.
SB 102, called the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act, creates a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of four years for a driver convicted of leaving the scene of a fatal crash. The bill also imposes a minimum driver’s license revocation period of at least three years and driver education requirements for people who leave the scene of a crash.
I find this to be an outstanding step in the right direction, but its not enough to just impose fines and strict penalties. I feel the bill should be amended to include a mandatory set of classes that each offender is required to attend in order to get their license reinstated. Clearly the pedestrian and cyclist laws are not being adequately taught to drivers throughout Florida and they need to be.
A new bill introduced.
Over two years ago in Tallahassee a cyclist was struck by a vehicle and subsequently left to die on the side of the road. The driver received a sentence of two years in prison as a result. Mickey Witte, lobbyists and fellow cyclists helped to pass this bill.
A community with a common understanding that this problem needs to be corrected. Aaron Cohen left behind a widow and two children. He also left behind the reminder that roadways aren’t safe.
Drivers in and around the Orlando area.
I commute back and forth to work 5-6 times a week and this story could have easily been about you or I. I’ve witnessed it several times, the drivers that pay little or no attention to their surroundings. Recently I’ve began keeping track of them here.(Wall of shameful drivers) You could be on the list…
I know the solution to these accidents can’t be eradicated overnight. I know of a bike route that’s going to stretch across the entire state of Florida that is still in the planning stage. I really hope it comes into fruition soon!
Other states have already put into place new roadways that provide for a safer shared roadway. This is a costly procedure and I don’t expect that it will be completed through most states right away. You can’t put a price on someone’s life however. With the growing cycling community throughout the United States we need to adapt and fit the needs of everyone.
Time to clear up a few misconceptions about cyclists.
Many times I have heard the honks of vehicles or the words, “GET ON THE SIDEWALK” shouted at me. People I’ve talked to have tried to tell me that bicycles on the road is illegal and the roads are meant for cars. WRONG, in fact roads were originally created for bicycles. Read up on the facts. Each state law is different in today’s world and motorists and cyclists would benefit from reading them.
Florida law concerning bicycles: (These are some of them, the rest can be viewed here.)
(1) Every person propelling a vehicle by human power has all of the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle under this chapter, except as to special regulations in this chapter, and except as to provisions of this chapter which by their nature can have no application.
(4) No person riding upon any bicycle, coaster, roller skates, sled, or toy vehicle may attach the same or himself or herself to any vehicle upon a roadway. This subsection does not prohibit attaching a bicycle trailer or bicycle semitrailer to a bicycle if that trailer or semitrailer is commercially available and has been designed for such attachment.
(5)(a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride in the lane marked for bicycle use or, if no lane is marked for bicycle use, as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway…
6) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway may not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Persons riding two abreast may not impede traffic when traveling at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing and shall ride within a single lane.
One of the major differences between vehicles and bicycles is that they are not allowed on highways or interstates. Basically if the speed limit is higher than 55 MPH bicycles are prohibited from entering. Which there are signs all throughout Florida has signs designated to let pedestrians and cyclists know.
Unless those with the power to implement more bike lanes or educate the population on a large scale does so, drivers will need to accept the fact that cyclists and pedestrians will from time to time be on the roads. The cowardice act of hitting someone then leaving them on the side of the road is disgraceful. I agree with this new bill because 2 years in prison is not enough. In my opinion it should be weighted the same as vehicular manslaughter.
Everyone out there stay safe! Drivers and cyclists alike. We don’t need to put ourselves in a situation that requires notifying the next of kin.