Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bicyclist Killed This Morning In Metro Tampa

It happened again in metro Tampa. A bicyclist killed at 5:10 am today on US 41 near St. Paul Street. St. Pete Times has this story.

The story says the bicyclist did not have lights on his bike. Also, no helmet.

Listen, don't go out at dark without lights. Period. I have no problem with police stopping bicyclists who don't have lights when it's dark. Use lights and reflective vests/gear.

It was the ninth bicyclist to be killed in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties since July 29.


Scott Gunsaullus said...

I hate to be fatalistic. These deaths make me so.

That stretch of road where this man died is particularily dangerous, a six lane highway in a rural industrial district just south of the Port of Tampa. There is no margin on the right side of the white line, no curb to speak of. The speed limit at the railroad crossing is 55 mph. Any hour of the day, a cyclist is likely to contend with 18 wheel rigs and tractor-trailers. No lighting, except for the occasional gas station and the intermitent head lamps of oncoming traffic.

I'm going to make a couple of assumptions here, based on firsthand experience. At that hour, the cyclist was likely on his way to work, bicycle being his primary means of transportation. Most of the South Tamiami Trail in Hillborough is not served by HART buses. It's possible that he was going to catch a bus, at Causeway Blvd but more likely 2 miles further North at Palm River Rd.

The other assumption that I'll make is that the driver of the Jeep was reckless, careless, and out of control. I find it hard to believe that the headlights couldn't light up the cyclist enough for him to be seen. Unless, of course, the driver was speeding. Let's not also dismiss the possibility that the driver is lying, as people do in such situations. How many times have we been brushed by a passenger side mirror, because the driver incorrectly assumed that there was enough room? This death could just has easily been the result of just such a fatal miscalculation.

Donald said...

Good point, Scott. I'm still not quite sure why any problem on the bicyclist's side automatically lets the driver off scott-free.
"Oh, no light? Phew... I thought we might actually have to take this case seriously!"

But that said, I agree that bicyclists should be extremely careful to be seen (I have lights and giant reflective international-orange boxes on my bike -- only a blind driver would be able to claim that they didn't see me).
Furthermore, I think the police need to enforce the laws for bicyclists more strictly. It sickens me when I see bicyclists without lights riding against traffic through red lights and other such combinations of nonsense.
I understand that the police are understaffed and extremely busy, but letting the law just go ignored (on both the bicycle and motorist sides) is a large part of why all of these bicyclists are dying. If the laws were enforced and obeyed, very little of this would be happening.

Scott Gunsaullus said...

On the need for increased visibility, I'm all for better enforcement. I seem to recall being pulled over in the past for a faulty break light or turn signal, and being given the option to have the light repaired en lieu of a fine.

Maybe be we need a similar initiative in Florida. Increase enforcement of non-lighted cyclists but give them an out that involves getting some lights.