The past two months have been heart wrenching for the estimated 1,400 club cyclists, who ride nearly every day, and 50,000 casual cyclists in The Villages. Two separate hit-and-run car/bicycle collisions occurred involving three experienced club cyclists. They suffered serious injuries that required emergency medical evacuations to the Level II Ocala Regional Hospital Trauma Center. A third event occurred when a landscape truck broadsided a tandem cycling couple. Fortunately, the truck driver stayed on the scene. Each of the five cyclists wore a US Consumer Product Safety Commission certified helmet, which likely saved them from worse injuries, or even death.
In one incident, a driver struck two cyclists riding on Morse Boulevard from the rear, stopped to observe the carnage, then fled. In a second incident, a car struck a rider on Hillsborough Avenue and fled. Law enforcement tracked down and apprehended both hit-and-run drivers after a week of dogged police work. Thank you, Sumter County Sheriff, Florida Highway Patrol, and Community Watch!
Update: All five cyclists are alive. All are suffering. Each has a long road of rehabilitation ahead of them. Fortunately, their bicycling activities helped them survive with excellent physical conditioning.
Modern technology has given cyclists a new tool to help themselves as well as law enforcement in the event of an accident. Front and back light/camera combinations can record in high definition and provide clear video recordings of the environment surrounding the cyclist. The front camera will record what the cyclist sees. The back one records what is approaching. Used together, these recordings provide a clear record of what is happening around the cyclist including the make, model, color, license plate, road position and sometimes the driver’s face. If there is an impact, a bicycle camera locks all recently recorded files while continuing to record for several more minutes.
There are several brands of bike cameras on the market. CYCLIQ and Go PRO are two that cyclists in The Villages commonly use. The front/rear cameras and associated safety lights can cost as much as $600. That said, the video captured serves as a real-time witness to the events prior to, during, and after the collision.
In this photo, right, the cyclist used a GO PRO to capture video. The cyclist was travelling on St. Charles near
Calabria Way when the white SUV pulled into the cart/ bike lane. At 21 MPH (31 feet/second), the cyclist had less than one second to brake hard and avoid a crash. Angels smiled!
Please, read about bike safety on the Sumter Landing Bicycle Club website (www.slbikeclub.org). Click on “Rides” and then “Bicycle Knowledge & Safety.” Learn your legal rights and obligations as cyclists. You can also take our Bike Safety Class through The Enrichment Academy.
Dave Lawrence is a Villager, healthy bicyclist, and SLBC Safety Director