Police ID bicyclist hit, killed on Westside

Man on motorized bike hit by SUV on Old Plank Road was sexual predator

By Crystal Moyer - Traffic/reporter, News4Jax.com Staff

Matthew Fromknecht (pictured in inset), a registered sexual predator, was hit and killed while riding a bicycle Tuesday.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A 34-year-old man on a motorized bike who was hit and killed Tuesday on Old Plank Road has been identified by police.

Matthew Luke Fromknecht was hit from behind by a Chevy TrailBlazer around 6 a.m. Tuesday on Old Plank Road just west of Chaffee Road, police said. 

Fromknecht, who was listed as a transient by police, was a registered sexual predator in the state of Florida, stemming from a 2004 charge of lewd molestation in Duval County. He pleaded guilty and served 14 months in prison.

Fromknecht was arrested in 2008 in connection with a hit-and-run crash, which violated his probation. He went back to prison for 4 1/2 years and was released in 2013. 

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is investigating Tuesday's deadly crash.

All lanes of Old Plank Road between Heritage Estates and Chaffee Road were blocked for several hours. The road reopened around 9 a.m.

The driver of the Chevy, a 20-year-old man, is cooperating with the investigation.

"It appears it was dark down there, even though there are street lights. But they're spread out and the area where he was struck, it was probably dark. He was wearing dark clothes. Unsure if he had a light on the bike.  There was one on the front but we haven't found one that would be attached to the back," said Sgt. Donald Washington with JSO.

There are no indications that alcohol or drugs are factors in the crash. Detectives have not determined if speed was a factor in the crash.

Washington said it's not uncommon to see people riding on motorized bikes, but News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said it was risky in the rural area where the crash happened.

"What I notice is that it's a two-lane road, and you don't have any paved sidewalks," Smith said. "If you're a bicyclist or a pedestrian, it can be dangerous, so you want to travel in the same direction of traffic, but be very lit, have some reflectors on or even carry some type of lighting, anything that will make you visible to other motorists."

The crash raised questions about the legality of motorized bicycles driving on roads.

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, they do not meet the federal Motor Vehicle Safety Act, so you can't ride them on public highways or sidewalks.

Owners don't have to have a license to ride them or even register the vehicle. But in 2014, the DHSMV published new guidelines allowing the use of motor-bikes on public roads, if they can be classified as a moped. That means it cannot exceed two-brake horsepower or run faster than 30 mph, and it must be registered with the DMV.

"The vehicle involved in this accident was not a legal vehicle for the road, even though it does have a motor on a regular bicycle," Smith said. "If it's under 90 ccs, it is not a legal vehicle."

Smith said these types of bikes with makeshift motors can be very dangerous and should not be used as a primary mode of transportation.

No charges are pending in the crash.
 

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