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The dangers of cycling; Roger Sutton involved in a serious MTB accident.

Thursday, January 22, 2015 by  
Filed under Daily Blog


Yesterday I did a solo 73 kilometer/45 mile training ride. The ride went well, and was uneventful–at least up until the last 10 miles…

Over those final 10 miles there were four separate incidents with motorists. I was buzzed (passed extremely closely) by an eighteen wheeler and, a short time later, by a car. Then, on a road with a bike lane, a distracted driver whizzed around me and then drifted into the bike lane, almost hitting the curb. Less than 5 minutes after that, a driver who’s lane was blocked by parked cars came into my lane of travel and headed straight for me, leaving me practically no room to squeeze by.

This 18 wheeler is approximately 3 feet from the white line, and about a foot from me. Florida law requires motorists to give a minimum of three feet when passing a cyclist:

Illegal pass by a huge 18-wheeler.

Illegal pass by a huge 18-wheeler.


As you can see, the oncoming lane is completely clear of traffic, so a safe pass could have been made without so much as a moment of lost time for the driver. If there had been traffic in the oncoming lane, the truck driver would be required to slow until it’s safe to make a pass. That’s the law.

Here’s the guy who was not only speeding, but also drifting around. Clearly distracted, inebriated or both:

This guy sped by me at a high rate of speed, and then drifted into the bike lane, almost striking the curb.

This guy sped by me at a high rate of speed, and then drifted into the bike lane, almost striking the curb.


Speaking of distracted and inebriated, this self-centered jackass killed a cyclist in South Florida yesterday, and then fled the scene. He deserves life in prison for his selfish choice that led to the death of an innocent human being who was just out for a bike ride.

I am constantly amazed that, when given the choice between waiting 10 or 15 seconds to make a safe pass or risking a potential head-on collision, many motorists feel the latter is the smarter option. You may not like that we’re on “your” roads, but we have as much right to them as you do. Do you really want to go through the rest of your life knowing you killed someone over 10 or 15 seconds, or because you couldn’t wait to see that text message?

Drivers, please be careful. Give cyclists a minimum of full three feet when passing, and only pass when it’s safe to do so. We’re human beings with family and friends, just like you.

Some people say, “It’s too dangerous on the roads, I’ll stick to the dirt.” Yes, the roads are dangerous, but so is mountain biking. Road cycling and mountain biking are both inherently dangerous activities. Every person who rides accepts the risks because we love the sport.

On that note, I received word this morning that my friend Roger Sutton was involved in a bad mountain biking accident yesterday. Roger apparently crashed on the Vortex at Santos–arguably the most technical and difficult trail at Santos–breaking his neck (C1 vertebra). Roger and I have ridden together at Santos, and also on the road (most recently at the Horse Farm Hundred). Roger is a very experienced and expert cyclist, mountain biker and racer; it just goes to show you that accidents can happen to anyone, anywhere.

Roger will be undergoing surgery this morning. Anyone who knows Roger knows that he’s a tough, scrappy guy who never backs down from a challenge. He’s also in phenomenal shape, so I have no doubt he’ll make a full and speedy recovery. All my best, friend.

John Stone Fitness Comments

9 Responses to “The dangers of cycling; Roger Sutton involved in a serious MTB accident.”
  1. Really glad you’re OK, John. The bottom picture could have been real ugly if that guy had drifted just seconds earlier.

    A while ago there was a thread asking, “Which is more dangerous: Road or Mountain biking?” I was typically late to catch up and didn’t respond, but I remember thinking:

    1. A rider is more likely to get hurt off-road but killed on-road.

    2. On the road you’re more likely to get maimed by someone else’s stupidity. Off road you often get hurt due to your personal lack of judgement.

    It does make me wonder: I know cyclists are “vehicles,” but I would love to be able to ride into traffic and see what’s coming. At least pedestrians can walk on the grass or the soft shoulder.

    Stay safe folks.

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    • Thanks Neil, the last part of that ride definitely shook me up a little bit. For some reason the past couple of weeks people seem to be driving really poorly, and a couple of my friends have noticed the same thing. Not sure what’s up.

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  2. YIKES! The news story about the hit and run made me feel sick. Such a sad tragedy but I am hearing more and more about distracted driving and their bad outcomes. I understand that distracted driving is as bad as driving while under the influence. People, put down the phones when you are driving and pay attention!

    I know the laws and same as Florida, Texas allows cyclists the same rights as other vehicles on the road. But I just don’t trust total strangers to not screw up around me. This forces me to stay off a big area of roadways near my home and transport my bike for all my rides. It’s a hassle but I feel safer riding roads with large shoulders and designated bike paths than the narrow lanes where I have to trust (hope) that drivers wil see me and adjust their lane position to pass by safely.

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    • I hear ya man. There are a couple of roads I REALLY hate riding on (in fact, I was buzzed on both of those roads–one time on each road–on the ride mentioned above). Unfortunately I have to ride on those roads to get to the safer areas or, like you said, drive to start my ride. I don’t really like doing that, as part of the attraction to road riding is that I can just hop on my bike and go.

      I really would like to move to an area that is more cyclist-friendly.

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      • I told my wife the same thing: “our next house needs to have access to cycling-friendly roads” 🙂

        I still see cyclists attempting the roads near me (almost no shoulder, legal speed limit is 55 mph) and I just cringe and say a prayer….

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