Two hit-and-run crashes in a single week that seriously injured bicyclists in The Villages are worrisome.
The first crash occurred Oct. 30 when 60-year-old Jessica Laube and 68-year-old Robert Hunter of the Village of Dunedin were bicycling on Morse Boulevard near Bonita Boulevard. They were both struck by a white Mercedes. The driver, described as an elderly woman with a cane, reportedly got out of the car, took a look at the crumpled cyclists on the ground, got back in the car and drove away. While Hunter is on the mend, Laube suffered a head injury and was on a ventilator. Hunter and Laube are smart, careful cyclists and were reportedly following all traffic laws.
The same can be said of 61-year-old Ken Nevers of the Village of Fenney. He was struck by a Jaguar early Tuesday morning while riding on Hillsborough Trail near the Manatee Recreation Center. The driver of the Jaguar, with a Florida license plate numbered NWQG97, also fled the scene. By his own account, Nevers suffered a broken rib, a separated shoulder, stitches to the forehead and lost a lot of skin. He also had been wearing a helmet.
While we can all agree the conduct of the fleeing drivers was inexcusable as well as criminal, we cannot deny the underlying tension that exists between bicyclists and motorists here in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown.
There are many drivers, both of automobiles and golf carts, who simply don’t like bicyclists. And that’s hard to understand.
We are fortunate to live in a community with multi-modal paths and designated golf cart/bicycling lanes along the roadway. In 2018, The Villages received the Bicycle Friendly Community Gold Level Award from the League of American Bicyclists. You’d think we were in a community where everything possible is being done to promote safety and harmony.
Instead, there are two drivers of high-end automobiles likely terrified of a knock on the door. There are three bicyclists who have unnecessarily suffered great physical harm.
In the end, it still comes down to personal responsibility. Slow down, show consideration, share the road.