Home' Island Sun : ISN 080715 Contents ISLAND SUN - AUGUST 7, 2015
I’m going to go off my normal topic of estate planning today
as I recently returned from two weeks traveling Colorado.
The contrasts were interesting while I was out there, as
news broke here about a Sanibel motorist who allegedly
slammed on his brakes intentionally in front of a group of cy-
clists on West Gulf Drive – injuring at least one – in what has
been described as a road rage incident.
In full disclosure, I was hit and almost killed by a hit-and-run
driver while bicycling (on the Summerlin Road bike path, mind
you) 11 years ago. I was airlifted to the Lee Trauma Center
and later underwent spinal fusion surgery as a result of the encounter. So I have a
definite bias in this conversation.
I point out that I am also a motorist who is delayed from time to time by bicy-
Part of my recent travels took me to Boulder, Colorado, which is a cycling and
triathlete mecca. There, one finds many bicyclists, both in groups (pelotons) and
alone, along winding mountain roads. Unlike Sanibel specifically and Southwest
Florida generally, which have wide-open flat roads in which a motorist is able to
see what is coming from the other direction for a mile or more, the winding, two-
lane Colorado highways have narrow shoulders which makes it difficult to navigate
a car or truck around bicyclists. Moreover, motorists could be stuck behind bicy-
clists who are struggling to maintain 10 mph up those steep mountain inclines.
But, do you know what? The motorists seem to take it all in stride. From what I
observed, motorists often give the bicyclists the requisite three feet when passing,
usually with a friendly wave and words of encouragement as they pass.
I wish we had that here.
How long might a motorist be delayed trying to pass a cyclist or a peloton of
cyclists? Ten seconds? Thirty? Maybe – dear God – a full minute?
Moreover, cyclists here generally move along at a pretty good clip since they
aren’t climbing mountains – usually somewhere between 20 to 25 mph. Serious
road bicyclists (I count myself among them) can’t ride on the recreational paths
filled with small children, people walking dogs and the like as that would be dan-
gerous. The law permits – even mandates – bicyclists on the actual roads, including
the roads of Sanibel and Captiva.
When I read about the incident involving the Sanibel motorist intentionally injur
ing the cyclists, it reminded me of a similar encounter I had with a motorist four or
five years ago. Three of us were bicycling on Middle Gulf Drive one early morning
– somewhere near the Sundial Resort heading towards the intersection with Fulgur
Street – when an enraged motorist driving an SUV did the same “move around the
cyclists and slam on the brakes” routine.
There were no words exchanged between anyone in my cycling group and the
motorist before the incident. I can only guess that the motorist was upset because
it took about 20 seconds for the oncoming traffic to clear before he could go
around us. Luckily, we avoided slamming into the back of his SUV when he sud-
denly braked while simultaneously hugging the curb, leaving nowhere for us to go
other than off the curb – which almost always results in a crash when you are rid-
ing high performance, thin-tired road bicycles. It was very scary. And life threaten-
ing.When a motorist pulls a stunt like that, he is violating the law. Moreover, I
believe that intentionally using one’s automobile or truck to threaten to hit a cyclist
(or actually doing so) is akin to assault with a deadly weapon. The motorist is
encased in a 4,500-pound, 300 horsepower vehicle. The bicyclist is only flesh and
blood. Aside from the legalities, to intentionally inflict bodily harm is inhuman. It’s
bad enough when someone unintentionally kills an opossum or raccoon. Bicyclists
are human beings with spouses and children at home.
Yes, bicyclists are sometimes rude to motorists. So are motorists to each other,
by the way. And bicyclists don’t always obey the traffic laws. Bicyclists sometimes
roll through stop signs. I’ve done it before – both on my bike AND while driving
my car. I bet if you are a motorist, then you have also rolled through a stop sign or
two. It’s not right, and could lead the bicyclist to the same penalty (traffic citation)
that a motorist would receive.
None of that justifies endangering a bicyclist’s life intentionally. The roads
are there for all of us. Everyone has been delayed in our cars. Traffic jams.
Pedestrians. Yes, even bicyclists cause delays. It’s part of driving on our roads.
Sanibel and Captiva are communities that thrive on and require tourism. Lee
County spends thousands of dollars on advertisements encouraging those who love
the outdoors to vacation and purchase homes here. We also have a healthy culture
filled with more and more bicyclists and triathletes enjoying our roadways. Let’s be
more like Boulder, Colorado and welcome those who enjoy a good ride.
Take some time to safely pass bicyclists while providing them the three-foot buf-
fer Florida law mandates.
Maybe even smile and give them a wave of encouragement as you pass. It will
©2015 Craig R. Hersch. Learn more at www.sbshlaw.com.
Bicyclists And Motorists
by Craig R. Hersch, Florida Bar Board Certified
Wills, Trusts & Estates Attorney; CPA
Moraga Appointed Assistant
Director At Shell Museum
The Bailey-Matthews National Shell
Museum has promoted Melanie
Moraga to assistant director.
Moraga began working at the shell muse-
um in September 2012 as a part-time
admissions specialist. With a promotion
to executive assistant, Moraga took on
responsibility for the scheduling of all
group tours, membership coordination,
volunteer coordination, and also became
involved in fundraising and donor rela-
Museum Executive Director Dorrie
Hipschman said, “Melanie’s promotion
reflects her importance to me and to the
museum. She’s become an indispensable
employee and a valued member of our
museum team. I’m confident that she’ll
continue to excel as we work to make the
museum even better.”
Moraga was born and raised in
Fairfield County, Connecticut and moved
to South Florida in the early 1990s.
She is becoming well-known as a nature
photographer. Her award-winning pho-
tograph Sunset Before the Storm, taken
at Blind Pass Beach on Sanibel, was pub-
lished in the November/December 2012
issue of Florida Travel & Life magazine.
She was also the featured cover artist for
the past two years for the Sanibel Shell
When not at the museum, Moraga
spends time on Sanibel’s beaches or out
hiking and exploring national parks.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org • www.gregweglarz.com
State Certiﬁed General Contractor License # CGC A05420
One Builder Serving Sanibel & Captiva for over 35 years
• Custom Residential Construction
• Remodeling Projects
• Design Team with Construction Drawings
• Plans Through Completion of Project
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