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.


  1. If he knew the gate sensor would not recognize carbon fiber(and how could he not if he’s been riding here a while….then he was trying to enter using the previous vehicles causing the gate to rise. If this was the case he is guilty of not only ruining the gate, but being stupid and lazy. There is no way he did not know the carbon fiber wouldn’t register with the sensor and just didn’t want to push the red button and wait.

  2. Maybe a loud siren could be installed on gates to really get rider and driver’s attention? Surely there’s a solution out there.
    As I mentioned before, gated communities do not prevent crime… read this SunSentinel (Palm Beach/Broward) article: “Gated communities often don’t deliver on the security they claim”

  3. In the comments to this article I have read a number of them which indicate the gate comes down after each vehicle. I don’t find that to be true at the gate at the north end of Morse Blvd. Car after car after car come through without the gate coming down. Seems dangerous and seems to be not conforming to the policy of The Village gates. Why is this happening?

  4. This really is a no brainer. Clearly the bike rider thought the arm would lift up, or stop coming down, when it sensed his bike so he didn’t stop and wait his turn. Judge Judy would toss him out of her courtroom. The signs are clearly marked.

    • 2,400 gates get broken every year – one of them by a cyclist – so I guess all the comments made here would also apply to the other 2,399 people who have managed to break gates – with other vehicles – no?

    • It truly is not that simple. That gate stays up for very extended periods allowing numerous cars to pass though at a time. It is not a gate that opens and closes for one vehicle at a time. If it did, traffic southbound on Morse would be backed up to El Camino. That gate and a few others simply don’t properly recognize smaller vehicles such as bikes. Improperly operating gates such as this one present a serious hazard to “vulnerable operators
      ” such as cyclists. So far, it has been a good fortune that the rider only knocks down that gate and is not suffer a serious fall or injury by the unpredictable gate behavior.

    • You truly would have to be on a bike and experience this to understand. If you are to the right side of the lane and that gate begins t drop after you pass the sensor (which it does) there is no reaction time. The gate closure rate at the side of the lane where the hinge point is well below the riders center line, there is simply no way to make a safe stop without being hit.

  5. The gates are essential, keeping traffic flow safe and also for photo surveillance.
    Traffic in particular, is highly important at the Morse gate, etc.

    In regard to this particular article:
    Risk and Consequences
    Moral Compass

    • Morse gate? What? I really like it when an ambulance or fire truck cant get into that gate due to all the people lined up and not bright enough to get out of the way. That gate is a danger to about all of us.

      • I have to agree with this comment. While gates are a crucial part of the traffic control system (NOT access control) that particular gate seems to serve no real purpose for traffic control since it is only a couple hundred feet from a traffic light. Maybe that gate just adds confusion.

    • This particular gate is the double wide gate as you head south on Morse at the approach to 466. There is a traffic light at the intersection of Morse and 466. The gate is a couple hundred feet before the light. It’s an automatic exit gate that does not require a card or a push of a button. It seems to work well for cars and trucks but smaller vehicles like bikes don’t seem to be recognized reliably causing conflict and presenting additional danger to the “vulnerable user”.

    • Peggy — you are right! These damn gates are one of the many costly and unnecessary things residents pay for here in TV. Between the utilities, electric, water/sewer, gate house & gate maintenance, and the Keystone cop salaries, the cost well exceeds a million dollars +.

      These gates DO NOT make us any safer and at most, only gives some residents a false sense of security.

      Surprise, surprise — You can get through these gates without the Keystone cop opening it for you, without a card or without pushing a button. I’ll bet most of you don’t even know that!

  6. Some one needs to explain to me how the gate sensors can’t “SEE” carbon fiber??? The gate sensors are similar to garage door sensors. If a solid object breaks the beam between the receiver and the emitter then the gate or garage door reverses direction and goes up. My guess is that there the bike does not have enough mass to block the sensor. The bike rider tailgated and should pay for the gate.

    • Actually, the gates seem to handle tailgating fairly well! Ever watch golf carts go through the gates on Canal or cars go through the gate on Del Mar into Spanish Springs? As long as the sensor remains tripped, the are will stay up. I would speculate that the issue with gate combination in question is that it’s a pair of gates on a 2-lane road and given the distance between the sensors along with the small size and much more open construction than a car, the sensors may not break long enough to work reliably.

  7. Steve Bressi says

    February 13, 2017 at 9:40 AM

    This is outrageous that this guy says the Villages is negligent. There are signs at every gate that clearly state 1 vehicle at a time. Another case where cyclists think that they are exempt from traffic rules.
    I agree with Steve, it’s outrageous! Why is one vehicle at a time such a difficult concept?

  8. As a golf cart rider, I used to use the gates to indicate if it was safe to cross the roads “protected” by the gates. If a gate was up, I knew a car would be coming; if the gates were down, I assumed it was safe to cross. This method worked quite well until one day I barely avoided a collision with a bicycle rider who, unseen behind a row of bushes, came zooming around the end of an unopened gate and, without looking or slowing down, came directly in my path. A similar incident happened a couple of months later when a cyclist on a reclining bicycle, again unseen and again without looking or slowing down, zipped under a closed gate. So, just a warning to golf cart drivers. Don’t assume it’s safe to cross if the gate is down.

  9. Congratulations to the bicyclist taking responsibility for his impatience. Now, he needs to follow through and pay the fine. Since he was at the gate, the camera would have his photo, but no identification. Kudos to him! I really cannot see it any other way. The gentlemen needs to dwell on this thought and do the moral and correct thing!
    Impatience on the part of riders and drivers cause a huge amount of accidents.
    Thankfully, this was not worse.
    For myself, I am terrified of driving beside bicyclists as I am so afraid I might hit one. Their sport is a healthy pursuit, however, they should ride in single file and stay on their designated path.

  10. This was a case where a cyclist tried to follow another biker so he wouldn’t have to stop. I find that most cyclists ignore the rules of the road, mostly stop signs. Maybe a few citations will wake them up.

  11. This is outrageous that this guy says the Villages is negligent. There are signs at every gate that clearly state 1 vehicle at a time. Another case where cyclists think that they are exempt from traffic rules.

  12. Hopefully there is video of this incident that could help everyone see just what did happen before we rush to judgment. However, I am 100% in favor of the gates. No, they are not security gates and we do not live in a true gated community. In my opinion, those gates help each and everyone of us as we criss cross each other’s path in cars, trucks, bikes, motorcycles, golf carts, and on foot. The gates force us to at least pause if not stop.

    • Some one needs to explain to me how the gate sensors can’t “SEE” carbon fiber??? The gate sensors are similar to garage door sensors. If a solid object breaks the beam between the receiver and the emitter then the gate or garage door reverses direction and goes up. My guess is that there the bike does not have enough mass to block the sensor. The bike rider tailgated and should pay for the gate.

  13. I was at the Delmar gate a little over a year ago. Waved my card – gate opened started to drive thru. A bicycle rider went past me on the right and the gate arm came down on top of my car. Making a small dent on the top. I didn’t know until I got home. The traffic was busy. I guess I should have turned it in!

  14. Agree with the comment…my personal experience with a large number of bike riders is that they do not stop at signs or obey the rules of the road and if you beep your horn at them they show you their IQ. On the other hand one has to make The Villages responsible for changes in technology (i.e., carbon fiber bikes) and as the lawyer says failure to do so is negligence? The negligence from my point of view is the bike riders willful ignorance.

  15. The time line may have been the cyclist brought a personal injury suit against the Villages and the Villages not only denied responsibility but claimed the cyclist was at fault and to prove the point countersued him for damages to the gate. The Villages has a department of lawyers on their payroll. For something as trivial as this the Villages does not even have to hire a lawyer whereas the cyclist does. The cyclist will lose this one big time. It costs the Villages nothing to fight this as long as it takes because the lawyers are already on the payroll.

    • You could not be further from correct. The cost of litigation for even FTE council is there. Plus, the cyclist at hand has $0 out of pocket as this is a contingency case (never let the facts get into the way of under-educated opines).

      Last time a car hit me “accidentally”, the insurance company was happy to pay me over $10k for a new bike frame and another $5k for my “injuries” though I had none and never claimed to have any.

      I am not saying the cyclist was “right”, but the gates are simply dangerous. We have all seen them come down early (and even worse, the idiots at the Morse gate who will wave you through as the gate lowers).

      The gates are not even implied security. They keep NO ONE out of The Villages. There is also no reason to have them when leaving The Villages. Would not shock me to see this suit go “Class Action” and Villagers from all over come out of the woodwork jump on the train.

      If I am not mistaken, it was after Hurricane Andrew that the red buttons were installed. They are OPEN COUNTY ROADS, thus, the gates are nothing more than a dangerous impediment to free travel. Like it or not, that is the reality. If you want a “Gated” community – “On Top of the World” is just a few miles away.

        • Sorry, Steve, but the good that they MIGHT provide are outweighed by the costs and other issues such as the unnecessary slowing down of traffic.

          Why do we need egress gates when you almost have to come to a complete stop because the sensor is so close to the actual gate? Just dumb — really dumb! What genius thought up that idea?

          • Most of the exit gates are somewhat helpful in that they DO slow down traffic in areas where vehicles are approaching round-a bouts and cart crossings. People tend to hit round-a bouts way to fast and if they didn’t have some form of traffic control slow us down, I can envision poor golf carts getting bounced around like ping pong balls. However, the vast majority of people that are responding to this issue have absolutely no idea what gate is at issue. The gate in question does not work like the majority of other gates in the area.

      • Chip, Talk to any lawyer who has been employed by the Villages and they will tell you that the Villages fight suits like this to the max. It has nothing to do with insurance coverage, the law suit would be against the Villages. Of course the Villages has insurance but If the Villages was found negligent, it would open the door for multiple law suits or even a class action suit as one writer has suggested. Plus the Villages never wants to set a precedent of anyone being awarded damages from them. Imagine the flood gates that could open around here.

        • Suits and PI suits are not the same. This will fall to an insurance company – period. Unless TV is self insured (and they very well may be). This is a suit they will pay off, have a non-disclosure and hope just goes away with all parties keeping quiet.

  16. The sign says: ‘gate closes after each vehicle’. It doesn’t say it senses whether your vehicle is metal or carbon fiber or balsa wood. Once a vehicle goes through it closes. Case closed!

    I wonder if he isn’t one of these folks who waves his card in front of the speaker instead of the senser plate and can’t figure out why the gate won’t open.

    • I have nothing against these bike riders other than when they are on the public roads they, for the most part, do NOT obey the rules of the road of road signage. Can’t even count the number I’ve seen just blow through stop signs and lights or run through the gates, not waiting for them to go back up as they approach. I swear some of them must have a death wish. Sorry you got clipped but just like riding in a car, you gotta pay attention. Can’t believe that gate came down so fast he couldn’t have avoided it.

  17. Another egocentric jerk riding his carbon frame (3K to 5K cost) bicycle around The Villages thinking rules don’t apply to himself or the other fools he rides with. Just once I would like to see a line of bikers actually stop at a stop sign, gate entrance, etc. They want auto drivers to give them four feet but so many times they are riding side by side. Rules of the road only apply to drivers and never to them.

      • LOL – you people fail to realize that the Atty is a PI guy (I posted a link in this thread). This, with out doubt is contingency, and the Atty will prevail. TV, if they are smart will simply write a check and be done with it. The cost of litigation will be far higher than the check that will need to be written.

        Plus, the cyclist should demand a new bike being as carbon can not handle impact like Ti-Al-Steel can. And, frequently it does not show immediate signs of impact. I would also ad a helmet and any torn clothing (cycling duds are not cheap).

        Maybe this will be the start of something intelligent and they will just simply take out the gates that do nothing more than disrupt traffic.

  18. Remove the lightweight aluminum arms and replace them with heavy cast iron arms. Extend the arms to the curb. After a few bike riders get whacked on their noggins they will begin obeying traffic laws. Or not. Either way we should get to watch the humorous videos. PS: My 12 year old granddaughter really enjoys riding her bike. Her brother is 16 so he drives a car.

  19. No surprise at The Villages asking him to pay a fine. It establishes The Villages lack of responsibility for the incident.

    What’s left is the degree of responsibility shared between each side. That’s for the courts to decide

    Part of the argument for and against is the implied hazard to pedestrains two wheel vehicles/icycles that have difficulties in balance while navigating extremely slowly with no other way around a moving hazard.

    This could have been anticipated by providing a path for such vehicles around the gate.

    • A bicycle is difficult ot balance? You stop, put your foot on the ground to hold yourself upright, push the button and then pedal away when the arm goes up. Where does it say you have to do this on the fly?

  20. Damn, how many bicycles haters are there in The Friendliest Home Town. This rider was harmed by a piece of equipment owned by the developer, they must pay. Get one those fast lawyers that take accident cases on a percentage. They have not done their due diligence on safety.

  21. Most of the comments here are ill-founded and mean spirited. Bicyclists have exactly the same rights on roads as autos…it’s the law in every state of the USA. As for the gate arm coming down. my wife nearly got hit yesterday at the O’Dell and Morse gate for the same reason…the sensor did not pick up that she was behind me as we exited. This situation has nothing to do with “piggy backing” since gates do go down after each vehicle but also raise at each consecutive vehicle. We normally ride around the gate not to circumvent the rules, or to “be better than autos” but to SAFELY pass through the gates. Good grief folks, keep it civil here.

    • bike riders have exactly the same responsibilities on roads as automobile drivers (autos themselves have no responsibilities). The problem is that bike people don’t act like laws apply to them. They ride around (or in this case through) traffic control devices. They don’t obey stop signs for fear of putting their foot on the ground. The impede the smooth flow of traffic by riding in packs of 40 at a speed 20 miles under the posted limit. They pay no road taxes. Now this idiot spends $500 on a lawyer to avoid paying for a $250 gate arm that his fellow residents will otherwise have to pay for. I got a buck that says he is one of those whiny deaf people.

    • The key phrase here is “the same rights”….not special treatment. How many times have you seen a gaggle of riders all stream through a stop sign without stopping? Do they think there is safety in numbers? I thinks it means more of them can be hit by one car in one fell swoop.

    • Bike riders have the same rights, but they also have the same responsibility to follow the laws. I can honestly say that I can’t ever recall seeing a bike rider stopping at a stop sign or red light. Yet they will always clamor that they have the same rights, but reality is they accept no responsibility. The guy has a lot of nerve filing a lawsuit.

        • Nope, almost never. Plus, we have the right to run red lights as we do not have the ability to change the lights sensors. That said, rolling a neighborhood stop sign is not the same as rolling the stop signs on busy roads. There is a time and a place.

          Just for fun I was watching a stop sign today that runs into Morse…9 out of 10 cars did not fully stop (all had to turn)…not a single golf cart came to a full stop (I stayed long enough to count ten cars).

          So, seems there may be a pot or two calling a kettle black.

  22. These bikers run those gates every single day by the hundreds. They think they are above the rules and laws of the road. Ride on the MULTI Modal paths that have been designed for them to use. Stay out of the automotive driving lanes. You don’t belong there. The bikers also have known for a very long time that their bikes do not trigger the arm. If you have to go ride out there use your pass card just like any other moving vehicle. Don’t piggy back and you won’t get hurt. I agree with many of the other responders before. Pay the fine and learn from your mistake. Other bikers would benefit from your mistake as well. Now, pay the lawyer whatever he thinks he has earned and get on with your life.

  23. I have had the Rio Grande gate come down on top of my cart – after using the card and was the only vehicle there. But, as a cyclist – never, never go under the gates – go around them – every time. That said, if I was him I would sue TV for injuries…if nothing more, the $250 would be a drop in the bucket…and, there is a reason the lawyer is involved to begin with…simply check out his lawyer…smart man.

    • If the gate came down on top of your cart that probabaly means you took too much time after scanning your card or pushing the button to drive through. The gates don’t “sense” if a vehicle is there or not. It’s a timed gate. It gives you more than enough time to go. If you don’t go it comes down anyway. I’ve seen women scan their card, take an inordinate amount of time to put their card back into their purse and have the gate come down before they can drive through. So they have to go through the whole process again. It’s a real treat to watch, especially as the line of cars behind you continues to grow.

      • I agree Steve – but, there is no count down timer…this particular gate spends more time on the ground than on the arm holder thing. What I really like are the old women who will search their car for their card and not just hit the freaking red button….(and the idiot in the gatehouse does not just open the thing).

    • I suspect a long pause before you proceeded after gate arm was raised. I say this because I have never experienced or even seen this happen after several years of driving. This case of poor judgment – remember
      Gate comes down – wait. Gate goes up – pass thru
      That is correct sequence. Simple. Applies to all vehicles.

  24. Isn’t it amazing how a lawyer can twist the truth around? Everyone has been told on numerous occasions the gates close after EACH vehicle. He was clearly in the wrong and should have to pay the fine.