A bicyclist was thrown off his bike Wednesday morning while riding on the Rickenbacker Causeway — landing him in the hospital with serious injuries. He says a Coral Gables police officer is to blame.
Eduardo Alvarez, 52, was riding with a group of more than 20 cyclists when the accident occurred. Video from the cyclists show a peaceful ride for frequent group cyclists that ultimately turned to chaos in a matter of 30 seconds.
The Coral Gables police cruiser is seen stopped on the side of the road quite a distance in front of the approaching cyclists when the officer turns on his emergency lights and pulls into the street, the video shows.
Coral Gables police said the department had joined the Florida Department of Transportation and other police agencies earlier Wednesday for an education and enforcement detail on the Rickenbacker Causeway.
“The Chief’s office is aware of the snippet of video showing bicyclists traveling in the bike lane as well as the lanes of travel for vehicles,” the statement read.
Some of the cyclists are on the street while others are using the provided bike lane, like Alvarez. The bicyclists continue at their quick pace. As the cyclists approach closer and closer, the officer slows down and sharply turns right off the road over the bike lane.
At this moment, Alvarez was in the front pack and just a few feet from the turning officer. A hard brake threw Alvarez off his cycle.
“At the point where the policeman crossed the solid bike lane, there wasn’t enough time for the cyclists to stop,” Alvarez said. “Two of us were at the front during this group ride and the guy in front of me slammed on his brakes, he had to or he’d T-bone the police car, I had to slam on my brakes... We were both reacting to the police car crossing the cycling lane.”
Alvarez, a director of high-impact experiences for McClatchy — the parent company of the Miami Herald — said the officer’s cruiser hadn’t entered his field of view until it was too late, he noted, and he had little time to react.
He has been riding for more than seven years and said cycling is a way of life for him, group riding several times a week.
Alvarez’s attorney David Lipcon told WSVN 7 News he suffered a shattered pelvis and is going into surgery.
Police added that Internal Affairs had not received an official complaint. Lipcon told the Herald he reached out to members of the Coral Gables police department to get clarity on what exactly transpired before a lawsuit is considered.
Authorities also cited a Florida Statute that states bicyclists must use the bicycle lane if one is provided and that no more than two cyclists can ride next to each other while in the lane. According to the footage of the incident, Alvarez was in the bicycle lane but other members of the group rode in the street taking up an entire lane at various points.
“There’s a lot of riders in the group, so you try to stay in the bike lane as long as possible even if you are doing this group ride,” he said. “But is there going to be a moment where you stray from the bike lane? Yeah, of course. That’s because of safety.”
Alvarez said he was following all required road laws at the time. Additionally, he noted the dangers of stopping abruptly on a bike while within a group of riders.
“Something a lot of folks don’t know who don’t ride bicycles is that you can’t stop a bicycle like you can stop a car,” he said. “A bicycle is going slower, needs more distance to come to a stop or slow down.”
Despite the unfortunate accident, Alvarez hopes to get back out there and ride his cycle again one day soon.
“Cycling is a way of life, so anyone who is a real, avid cyclist will tell you that this is who they are, this is part of their life. To give it up would be really difficult,” he said. “I hope that my outcome doesn’t prevent me from having to give up something I truly love... and to think that in a few seconds that would be potentially taken away from me.”
Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/video-cyclists-ride-near-a-coral-gables-cop-car-on-rickenbacker-then-a-bicyclist-crashes/ar-AAPOlgV811