ORLANDO, Fla. – Central Florida bicyclists are at a higher risk for injury and death, according to data from the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ Crash Dashboard.
Police agencies reported 6,575 crashes involving cyclists 149 resulted in death last year alone, according to the FHSMV data.
Kyle Markel a long-time bike enthusiast and owner of Orlando-based Kyle’s Bike Shop said the risk of riding comes down to motorists’ attitudes and understanding the law.
“ When I’m out on the road I feel like a sitting duck, Markel said, “I’ve been yelled at getting on the sidewalk get off the road.”
A county-by-county review of crashes involving cyclists in Central Florida in 2018 showed Orange County with 498 crashes and eight bicycle fatalities followed by Volusia county with 226 and seven fatalities.
State law clearly states cyclists and motorists have equal rights to the road and drivers must allow 3 feet when passing a rider.
The Florida Freewheelers posted key points of Section 316.2065 of the Florida bicycle law.
The mandate that bicyclists must obey ALL traffic controls and signals is the top issue highlighted in the summary on the group’s website.
Stan Clarke, 62, is a member of the Nona Biking Club said playing by the rules is important but is not always a guarantee of safety.
Clarke said a member of his group, retired Marine David McGrinn, was killed on Heintzelman Boulevard near Orlando International Airport during a ride on an early July morning.
McGrinn rode a special 3-wheel bike because of injuries sustained during his military service.
Riders with him that day said he was leading the pack when he was hit.
“He was in the bike lane and (the driver) just wiped him out," Clarke said. ”I was just horrified, it was terrible.”
According to the crash report, the driver was distracted and looking at her phone.
A Ghost Bike memorial has been set up at the site of the crash in honor of McGrinn.
Orlando police bike patrol Officer Mark Levy said the risks for riders has increased as biking has increased in popularity.
Levy said even though the city has created new bike lanes for cyclists’ safety the risk of injury or worse is still an issue.
“People in the cars may be in too much of hurry looking at their phones not really paying attention to a cyclist who is following the rules,” Levy said “that’s mostly what happens.”
Levy teaches bike safety and stressed a rider’s protection is always to wear a helmet.
“You are at risk if you’re on a roadway with vehicles," Levy said. “Drivers need to give them that 3-foot distance when they are coming into the same lane.”
News 6 has started to collect video evidence of close calls on the road involving cyclists who document their rides with GoPro type cameras.
If you or someone you know has experienced one of these close calls while cycling contact News 6 investigative reporter Mike Holfeld at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check your county’s bike accident data at flhsmv.gov.