Cyclists say motorists targeting them with ‘punishment passes’ or close calls

Bike cameras catch intentional close calls on Florida roads

Central Florida cyclists are among thousands of bike riders in the country that have reported intentional close calls executed by drivers cyclists call “punishment passes."

ORLANDO, Fla. – Central Florida cyclists are among thousands of bike riders in the country that have reported intentional close calls executed by drivers cyclists call “punishment passes."

“There are times it’s intentional or feels intentional,” Mt. Dora cyclist Tracy Draper said. “You can’t put a price on your life."

The battle between bikes and vehicles sharing the road has exploded with the continued rise in bike crashes and fatalities in Florida.

Rachel Maney the National Director of Bike Law said she recently moved to Florida because it is considered the worst for bike crashes and fatalities in the country.

In 2018, Florida police agencies reported 149 rider deaths or 20% of the bike fatalities in the United States.

"Really what it boils down to is a cultural issue,” Maney said. “Any minor inconvenience, whether it be a human being on a bicycle, a long red light or something else, instigates this need to rush.”

Maney has teamed up with ambassadors and News 6 to bring awareness for the need to develop new legislation to protect the estimated 50 million bike riders using roads nationwide every day.

“I’ve had many close calls," Maney said. “I’ve had lit cigarettes tossed at me, beer bottles thrown at me, I was hit in 2015 while training for an Iron Man (triathlon).”

The risk of riding has prompted riders to attach video GoPro style cameras on the front and back of their bicycles to document close calls on the road.

One of the latest devices on the market was developed by Cycliq is combination bike light-camera that records and saves the video if a rider is involved in a crash.

The web site includes an incident register where close calls caught on camera or placed in an archive.

Video evidence aside, Central Florida bikers say they want laws in place that will provide safer roads and hold drivers accountable.

Crockett Bohannon said his video cameras caught the driver behind the wheel of a truck as the driver zeroed in on Bohannon and his girlfriend during a weekend ride on Fort Christmas road.

“We were headed southbound and he came northbound crossed the double line and was literally one foot from each of our handlebars," he said. “There was no reason for it and it was really very scary.”

Bohannon said he was told even though he had the driver’s license plate number on video because he couldn’t identify the driver or prove intent the case would never make it to court.

News 6 has found only 10 states have laws in place to hold drivers accountable for bike rider safety.

The Bicycle Friendly Delaware Act implemented a ban against honking at bicyclists except in cases of “imminent danger,” and required that cars change lanes when passing bikes.

The law also adopts a policy known as the Idaho stop. It was named after the only other state to pass a similar law, the rule allows cyclists to treat stop signs like yield signs.

The idea is that cyclists can better maintain momentum if they don’t have to come to a full stop when an intersection is clear. Many cyclists already do this, but the Idaho stop gives them legal backing.

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About the Author:

News 6’s Emmy Award-winning Investigative Reporter Mike Holfeld has made Central Florida history with major investigations that have led to new policies, legislative proposals and even -- state and national laws. If you have an issue or story idea, call Mike's office at 407-521-1322.