Close Calls Cyclists in Florida Have Encountered

A few weeks ago I sent out an email to our cycling community asking them to share a dangerous encounter they’ve had while cycling. We received a great response and I wanted to share some of the close calls cyclists are facing on our Florida roads in the hopes it will increase awareness and prepare riders of dangerous situations that might occur.

Close Calls Experienced By Cyclists On Our Florida Roads

Time: 10 a.m.
Location: Traveling south on US 17/Duncan Rd. Four lane divided highway with marked bicycle lanes at the intersection of Lettuce Lake Road and US17/Duncan Rd
Dangerous Encounter: South bound in bike lane, the intersection incorporates a keyhole turn lane. As I passed through the keyhole in the bike lane, a woman driver pulled right into the turn lane with me between her and the edge of the road. It wasn't until I screamed at her that she hit the brakes allowing me to shoot in front of her and back out to the bike lane.

Time: 6 a.m.
Location: On Siesta Key heading north on Midnight Pass into the bend where he turns into Higel Ave.
Dangerous Encounter: I was on my regular morning bike ride, in the bike lane and entering the bend. I heard a car coming from behind going well above the speed limit but there was plenty of road, it's reasonably well lit and a good wide part of the bike lane there. I had a Cygolite Hotshot 100 red light on the back of my seat and on the back of my helmet trying to do my best to be visible. I was also wearing a yellow jersey. As the car got to me I looked down and saw it's front fender an inch from my leg. Both of his right side tires had to be in the bike lane. Then I got hit. I'm not sure if his outside mirror hit me or the car clipped my bike. The next thing I know is that I went flying, landing on my back on the sidewalk with my legs tangled up in my bike. I hit so hard it cracked my Specialized helmet and knocked me out cold. The car did not stop. A good Samaritan did stop. He looked at my RideID which made it very comforting that he was using my name as I came to. Thankfully it was just a mild concussion, no other bodily injury (until the back bruises later on) and my bike was undamaged other than some road rash on the edge of the seat. Thankful that it wasn't worse.

Time: Afternoon
Location: 34th Street, Gainesville, FL
Dangerous Encounter: Right hand hook both the driver and I got to the corner at the same time; This recently happened to me. I was traveling in a bike lane and I could see a car in my helmet mirror. I live in a college town and most of the kids that are driving I don't think they know the bike laws. This young lady in her car raced me to the right hand turn. She and I got to the corner at the same time but I was already slowly stopping but, I had to do a full sliding stop. I have a coach's whistle and I was blowing it at her she turned her head. My purpose was to show how close I was when she cut me off. But here in this town you must always keep an eye out on all drivers.

Time: 3:30 p.m.
Location: 102nd Ave Largo , just west of Seminole Blvdd
Dangerous Encounter: Curb area and roadway surface at different heights. It was lightly raining and when I tried to get onto the roadway surface the tires would just slip instead of going up onto the roadway. They slipped enough that the bike went down!

Time: Around Noon
Location: A1A, Satellite Beach, Florida. Northbound lane.
Dangerous Encounter: Having a rear-view image of the road margin behind has saved my life a few times. It really has. For example, twice now I have observed an RV screaming toward me from behind. They are huge in Florida with tourist from up North. They of course take up the whole lane. In these two cases I was anticipating giving him plenty of room to pass. I give way to anything bigger than me on the road. That was until I noticed his side door STEPS were DOWN and OUT. The out part of the steps covered over 2 feet of the cycling margin. This alone would have taken me out if I had not noticed. He of course had no idea why I was screaming at him when he passed. Bottom line, I got completely off the road when he passed. Yes, rear view mirrors are a lifesaving idea. When I’m not on my bike and wearing sunglasses, I still find myself looking up for my mirror. Of course, the pros don’t use them because they have a million dollars of chase cars and teammates talking to them all the time on what’s around them. Live to ride another day.

Time: Mid-morning
Location: St. Joe, FL
Dangerous Encounter: I was riding on a two lane road. I was told there was a car parked on my side of the road ( I went around that but didn’t register that). I was riding along alone when all of a sudden I was in a cloud of smoke it seemed to me, and the next thing I fell to the ground coming down face first. I laid there for seconds and turned myself onto my back looking up to the blue, clear sky and said to myself, “ what just happened. I did a quick second neuro check ( I’m a RN) everything was moving and I had feeling everywhere. I just felt like my helmet was imbedded in my forehead. Next people who witnessed it come over, called 911. I begged for them to remove my helmet. Not till EMTs arrive I was told. I never lost consciousness, so I asked what happened and was told an older driver hit me from behind. He was going around that parked car and he overcompensated coming back to his lane and he hit my rear tire. Nothing was broken, 1stitch to bridge of my nose from my sunglasses. But road rash and new aches for months after the crash.

Time: Morning, approximately 8:30am, sunny with good visibility.
Location: In Orlando, on the Cross Seminole Trail where it intersects Tuskawilla Blvd. This intersection is 2 lanes northbound, 3 lanes southbound, a crosswalk, a median with low vegetation, and stop lights with a “Walk” signal.
Dangerous Encounter: The southbound traffic sometimes does not see the two red lights, as there are another set of traffic signals approximately 100 yards further south at a large intersection. A group of us were crossing, heading west. Northbound traffic was stopped, southbound traffic (we thought) was stopped. I was the lead cyclist in the group. As I started through the median and across the southbound lanes, a vehicle totally missed the stop light (2 other southbound lanes were completely stopped) and came within about a foot of my front wheel at full speed (45 mph). It scared me so much that I was off the bike for over a month. Another second faster and I would have been a messy hood ornament. Most cyclists who ride this area agree that it’s a dangerous intersection.

Time: Approximately 7:30 a.m.
Location: Major 4-lane highway
Dangerous Encounter: I was in the bike lane--cars are supposed to stay at least 3 ft away; car turning right passed me and was about 150 ft ahead; another car passed me and the first car didn't signal and turned at the last second; 2nd car swerved in my lane to avoid hitting the first car. I almost had to jump or hit the curb--no room for me.

Location: Intersection or State Rout 27 and NW 55th Avengers in Ocala, FL
Dangerous Encounter: I was traveling West on SR 27. I was in the left hand turning lane. As I approached the turn I saw a pick up truck at the stop sign on NW 55th Avenue waiting to turn left on to SR 27. As I prepared to turn I used a hand signal to indicate that I was going to turn left. When I was in the center of the left hand turn lane the pick up truck accelerated and began his turn while I was in the center of the intersection. I was hit by the pick up truck. My bike was totaled, and I had some scratches and bruises.

Time: 10:00:00 AM
Location: City street
Dangerous Encounter: As I approached a car waiting to make a right hand turn, I held back as I noticed she was not paying attention to anything on her right and the light was about turn green. She made an aggressive right turn and sped off. Moral of the story: Never assume the driver is aware of their surroundings. Either wait back or pass and make eye contact and stay ahead of the driver.

Time: Mid day, bright and sunny
Location: Shamrock Boulevard with well marked bike lane, driving toward Center.
Dangerous Encounter: Two cyclists with blinking lights front/rear, car taking right turn across path of cyclists, only yell/gestures after cyclists view into rear view mirror avoided crash. This is the second time similar event happened on Shamrock. Seems like motorists are not looking into rear view mirror before a right turn.

Location: Boca Grande bike paths
Dangerous Encounter: Close call with rental golf carts. People think the paths are for golf carts and they don’t want to give an inch or get 2 wheels off the path and crowd bicyclist.

Time: Morning
Location: Arbuckle Creek Rd., Sebring, FL.
Dangerous Encounter: The aggressive driver in a red pick up truck blowing his horn checked the cyclist behind me on Arbuckle Creek Road not far past Riverdale causing him to hit the truck at 22+mph, a physical altercation occurred. Our bike group of about 20 of us stopped. The Driver only ended up with a ticket for illegal lane change on a double yellow line. He also paid for damages to the victim’s bike. It should’ve been assault on a cyclist with a vehicle.

Time: Late in the day around 7pm.
Location: We had a small group of around 5 in a paceline coming back off Long Boat Key in Sarasota, FL. heading towards Marina Jacks parking lot.
Dangerous Encounter: We had just come out of the bike lane from the connecting road to St. Armand's heading towards the Ringling Bridge. Before you get to the Ringling Bridge there is a smaller connecting bridge without a bike lane. It is 2 lanes and usually traffic is light. As we got about halfway across I felt my bike move, I was in the back. As I looked left a large pickup truck had passed us within inches without clipping us. You felt the adrenaline right away! There was no one in the left lane, so the driver had the intention of getting as close as possible to scare us, threaten us, or whatever. It happens a lot. Some drivers do not care or realize the damage they can do.

Time: 11 a.m.
Location: Ocala FL corner of SE 135th Ave and Ocala Rd.
Dangerous Encounter: While competing in the HITS Ocala Triathlon I was approaching Ocala Rd. coming down SE 135th Ave. where a policeman was stopping traffic for competitors to proceed through intersection. As I was coming up on stopped traffic which was approximately 10 cars deep, I began to pass the first stopped vehicles on the left (as the right side did not have sufficient space and no traffic was oncoming). Upon getting along side the car, the vehicle elected to quickly turn left (in front of me) in an effort to proceed down a side street (assume in effort to avoid the long backup of traffic caused by riders of the event). The vehicle struck me and I leaned into back corner panel with my shoulder and "rode down the car"... fortunately the driver had his window down and upon him turning in front of me I voiced my frustration which caused him to stop. My shoulder struck his rear view mirror bending it back and allowing me to bounce off the car. I was fortunate that I was not injured, did not fall, nor was my bike hit / damaged. I proceeded with my race giving him a wave that I was ok. My lesson learned was even during a race with a policeman 50 yards away and many signs for drives to be cautious of riders that I still must ride defensively and not take for granted a false sense of protection during such an event. I do ride with a rear facing GoPro that captured the "ride away" (vehicle crossed center line turning left / mirror bent backwards / etc...)

Time: Around 10:00-11:00am
Location: Fort Benning, GA
Dangerous Encounter: I had a touring style bus pass me within inches forcing me to turn into a parking entrance which was luckily at the point of the incident otherwise I would have most surely gone off the road and possibly worse maybe fallen off the bike and injured myself due to the lack of the drivers courtesy ...I had to look back to ensure my wife was on as well since she was riding slightly further behind me and the bus had passed her within arms reach length ...times like this is when I wish I could easily grab my phone and snap a photo of the drivers license plate so I could contact the company responsible for this driver but due to the scare I was focused on staying upright on the bike so I could check up on my wife.

Time: Early afternoon
Location: At an intersection--a residential road that crosses a busy vein of Austin
Dangerous Encounter: So I was riding my bike in the bike lane getting close to an intersection when I saw the light turn yellow in front of me. In the last 100 feet or so of the road before the intersection, the bike lane and car lane merge into one more narrow lane. The right side of the road was damaged, so I was slowly moving over toward the center of the lane. While I was moving over, a car zoomed past me in an attempt to make a right turn before the light turned green. I had to quickly move over to the edge of the lane to avoid being rear ended by this car, who did not even seem to notice that there was no longer a bike lane for me to stay in.

Time: 8:30 AM
Location: Longboat Key, Florida
Dangerous Encounter: My friend and I were biking on Longboat Key, headed south when a north bound car crossed over hitting us head on. Another cyclist was also involved however that cyclist saw him and jumped off his bike before the cyclist himself was hit. We were very fortunate that day because the odds should have been against us but they weren't. Many good people - LBK paramedics, LBK police, Sarasota Tri club, and other cyclists - were there for us.

Time: 7:30 a.m.
Location: Semi rural road
Dangerous Encounter: It's a lightly traveled cut through road that is about 2 miles long and very straight. A lot of people speed on this road. We have had several close encounters with trucks (drivers) who don't pass properly even though they can take the lane. One occasion the driver wanted to continue an altercation by stopping and waiting for us.

Time: Early afternoon
Location: Rural road
Dangerous Encounter: I had only been cycling about 6 months. I was on a group ride of about 15 people. As I was coming down hill, I saw a dog run out to the group that was ahead of me (we were riding on very rural roads). I saw it run back over to its owner on the side of the road who was holding the reigns of his horse. I was glad because I was sure the owner would grab his dog so he would not run out at my group. Well he didn't. The dog came back out as we were ascending the hill. I didn't know what to do - slow down, speed up. I was too inexperienced to try to kick at the dog or even throw my water bottle. Another cyclist tried to get between me and the dog. The dog would get right on my rear wheel and then back off and then come back. I noticed I was drifting toward the center line. The dog finally got close to my front wheel. I heard it yelp as he hit my front wheel, and I went down. Luckily, I was just scraped up and looked like I had slid into 3rd base. The dog ran back down the hill to his owner who just stood there. He never came to check on me, and I guess I was just so scared and so relieved that I wasn't badly hurt, that with the help of others, I got back on my bike and continued the ride. I had red dog fur on my front wheel, and yes, we do have leash laws here. I know we should have called 911 to report it, but didn't. That was over four years ago, and I still have a real fear of dogs when we encounter them on the road. What should I have done (other than call 911)? What would they have done for me?

I’m Committed to Helping the Cycling Community

Our goal is not only to help cyclists ride safely, but to always be there if you or a friend gets hurt unexpectedly, regardless of where you are in Florida. I’m here to answer any questions or concerns you may have. I understand the issues involved in virtually every type of cycling crash. I have years of experience riding these same roads and I know what it takes to recover from crash. My goal is to relieve you of the emotional burdens, handle the legal and insurance issues, while you focus on your recovery and return to cycling.

Have You Been Injured In A Bicycle Accident?

If you've been hurt in a Florida bicycle accident you should speak with an experienced bicycle injury lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 727.446.0840 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.

Jim Dodson
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A Florida injury lawyer, family man and avid cyclist who clients have trusted for over 25 years.
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