Addressing bicycle safety on St. Johns Co. roads

Advocacy group calls for changes after fatal accidents

By Tarik Minor - Anchor, I-TEAM reporter

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - State transportation officials, engineers and bicycle advocacy groups met in St. Augustine Tuesday afternoon to discuss bicycle safety on the roads in the wake of six fatal crashes on St. Johns County roads in the last year.

The meeting came after six collisions involving bicycles in St. Johns County in the last two weeks and a crash Friday night that resulted in the third hit-and-run death in the county within 12 months.

There have been 67 crashes involving bicycles in the last year, and 31 percent of bicycle fatalities involve someone being impaired, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.

People with the group Velo Fest in St. Augustine are calling for more education about safety on the road at the Department of Transportation's community traffic safety meeting held at the St. Johns Emergency Management Center.

The group wants to educate bicyclists and pedestrians on the basics.

"There's no doubt that there's a lack of awareness about how to properly operate your bicycle. Just like to properly operate any vehicle, it really starts at foundation level which is education," said Velo Fest's Heather Neville.

As a group, they talked about starting an educational campaign and suggested exploring how much it would cost. They discussed extending the bike lane network in St. Johns County and including bike lanes in the road maps and literature.

A spokesman for DOT told the group it is already educating the public through public service announcements and programs in schools. But according to bicycle advocates, not everyone is getting the message.

Randy Miller, 43, was the cyclist who died after Friday night's crash. Troopers say he was riding his bike home in the bike lane on State Road 16 Friday night when a driver struck and killed him. Investigators are still looking for the driver.

"Turn yourself in if you have a conscience, do the right thing," said Gary Miller, Randy's father. "That's not the right way to live if you do something wrong. It's an accident. It's an accident."

Randy Miller's friend, Sue Petit, is still struggling with the tragedy.

"He was always riding his bicycle and for someone to actually run over him and not stop, I mean that is so tragic," says Petit.

Petit says Miller worked at IHOP two miles from his home and rode the route almost every day. She didn't realize how dangerous that area could be.

"A lot of accidents happen there, and then Saturday morning when I heard that it was Randy my heart went to my stomach," said Petit.

"We're just to a point now where we really need to start looking at why this keeps happening and really find some solutions versus always trying to find fault," said Neville. The group wants some support from the county, city and police as they try to get a plan of action together to keep another person from dying on the road.

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