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

Illegal pass by a huge 18-wheeler.

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.