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Our view - Ride of Silence puts safety issue in focus
Stuart News - 5/19/2017
Florida has the highest fatality rate for bicyclists in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Since 2012, an average of 136 bicyclists have died each year on roads in the Sunshine State.
But numbers are impersonal and can be ignored. Not so with people. They leave behind friends and family members who grieve their absence.
Five of Florida's bicycling victims will be remembered Saturday in Vero Beach. The Vero Beach Cycling Club is sponsoring the Ride of Silence, which is part of a national event to raise bicycle safety awareness. Following a ceremony at Riverside Park, participants will ride silently on a route of remembrance. The public is welcome to take part in the ride.
Participants will honor Kevin Adorno, Cole Coppola, Valerie Jean Waters, Paul Langewisch and Glenn Randolph Totemeier: bicyclists from Indian River County – or, in the case of Adorno, from Unionville, Connecticut – who died while riding their bikes.
Three (Coppola, Waters and Langewisch)were struck by vehicles.
Two (Coppola, Totemeier) fell from bridges.
Waters was the victim of a hit-and-run driver who has yet to be arrested.
Adorno, who was cycling from Maryland to Miami, was stabbed and killed by a homeless man outside a McDonald's on U.S. 1 in Vero Beach.
"The Ride of Silence provides a moment to express the unfathomable heartache shared by families, friends and the entire bicycling community when tragedy strikes one of our own," said Hugh Aaron, president of Bike Walk Indian River County, in a media release. "The ride further strengthens the resolve of bicycle riders in our community to advocate for safer roadways and more stringent enforcement of laws designed to protect people riding bikes from distracted or careless drivers."
Despite Florida's abysmal safety record with respect to bicyclists and pedestrians, state lawmakers have been painfully slow to make our roads safer for vulnerable users.
During the recently concluded Florida legislative session, lawmakers failed to pass Senate Bill 408, which was introduced by state Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples. Among other things, SB 408 would have made motorists more accountable if they cause bodily injury or death to vulnerable road users such as bicyclists and pedestrians.
Passidomo's bill failed to come out of committee. Similar bills she filed in 2015 and 2016 met the same fate.
"We can't seem to get any traction in the Florida Legislature on the issue of bicycle safety," Aaron said.
The victims to be honored Saturday – as well as many other bicyclists who've died on Treasure Coast roadways – are solemn reminders of the dangers that exist and the need for state officials to give greater attention to this issue.
Editorials of Treasure Coast Newspapers/TCPalm are decided collectively by its Editorial Board. To respond to this editorial in a letter to the editor, email up to 300 words to TCNLetters@TCPalm.com.
If you go
What: Ride of Silence
When: 9 a.m. Saturday
Where: West side of Riverside Park in Vero Beach
Note: There is no cost to participate. Helmets are required for the ride. Visit Verocyclingclub.org for more information.
Bicyclist fatalities on Treasure Coast roadways, by county, between 2012-16.
Source: Florida's Integrated Report Exchange System