Villages bicyclist struck by gate arm hoping to avoid $250 replacement fee

A Villages bicyclist who was struck by a gate arm, is hoping to avoid the $250 gate arm replacement fee.

Mike Haessly had been riding his carbon-fiber bicycle through a pair of automatic gates on Morse Boulevard that operate in unison to sensors.

At least one other rider had gone through ahead of him. When Haessly attempted to ride through, the gate unexpectedly closed on him.

“He did his best to attempt to avoid it. A reasonable person would believe the gate would read his presence and remain open,” Haessley’s attorney Jim Dodson wrote in a letter to The Villages.

The gate came down and injured Haessly’s shoulder.He approached the gate attendant to report what had occurred.

It was later that Haessly learned that the gate sensors do not recognize carbon fiber. And that he was stuck with a $250 bill.

“The Villages must be aware there are thousands of bicycle riders in the community, many of whom ride carbon fiber bicycles. There was absolutely nothing to put a conscientious bicycle ride on notice the gate would not remain open for them as the approached,” the attorney wrote in his letter.

Dodson said incident was caused entirely by the “negligence” of The Villages.

He added that The Villages has opted to punish Haessly “for what is clearly their neglect.” Dodson argued that Haessly had done the responsible thing by reporting the incident and identifying himself.   

About 2,400 gate arms are knocked down each year, according to Community Watch. The District collects the $250 replacement fee from the perpetrator whenever possible to prevent the cost from being passed on to residents. 

Cameras at the gates in The Villages are capturing high-definition images, including license plates. This information helps track down the gate-arm crashers.