2013 closed out on a consistent pace for bicycle accidents after a rider was injured in Pinellas County on December 31st. Though police believed he had been drinking, the bicyclist was seriously injured after being hit by a vehicle on Park Blvd. Now, just a few weeks into 2014, South Florida has had already had its fair share of bicycle accidents.
On Thursday January 2nd, Ray Strack was struck from behind by a vehicle while riding down Oakland Park Boulevard in Ft. Lauderdale. Ray Strack is the leader of Critical Mass, a widely known South Florida organization dedicated to bicyclist rights and bicycle enthusiasts. The movement of cyclists gathers for a group bike ride once each month to protest car culture and in celebration of bikes. Some expressed concerned over cyclists’ safety in Florida, wondering what could become of less experienced riders when such a prominent cyclist can get hit. The accident did not coincide with a group event – Strack was riding alone when the crash occurred.
The details of the accident weren’t clear. Strack said he remembers riding west across a bridge, but then nothing else. He was hit from behind by a driver in his early 20’s. He suffered a fracture of the T9 vertebrae in his back and several deep cuts in his head, which required staples and stitches. Strack blacked out and is suffering from short-term memory loss from the time of the accident, but is conscious and otherwise recovering in good spirits.
In an earlier posting, we shared a local news story about 16-year-old Anthony Greene. Greene was riding on a dark road in Odessa on January 6th when he was struck by another teenager driving a pickup truck. The pickup truck, a 2002 Dodge Ram, was driven by 18-year-old Christopher Griffith. According to deputies, Griffith saw the bicyclist at the last second and tried to swerve away – but still ended up hitting him.
Greene was ejected from his bicycle and died at the scene. He was not wearing a helmet and his bicycle was not fitted with any lights. Florida law requires a bike to use reflectors and at least one powered light for nighttime riding.
Anthony Greene’s accident was the first recorded bicycle fatality to take place in Hillsborough County in 2014. Bike advocacy group the “Green Mobility Network” recently called South Florida “one of the most dangerous places in the country for bicyclists and pedestrians.” Miami, Tampa, and Orlando consistently rank among the US’ top 15 metropolitan areas with the highest bicyclist and pedestrian fatality rates each year.