Lakewood Ranch residents concerned over bicyclist safety

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Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2014 5:35 pm

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. - A Lakewood Ranch intersection is in the spotlight after an 83-year-old bicycle rider was hit and killed by a red light runner. It happened last week and has sparked a debate about whether or not drivers are obeying the rules of the road in the area.

On April 4th, troopers say 22-year-old Lindsay Damery plowed through the intersection of Lakewood Ranch Boulevard and Parkside Place while two bicyclists and a car were also making their way through the intersection.

And while the incident is still being investigated, it has sparked a bigger discussion about safety in the area.

If you drive the posted speed limit of 35 miles per hour on Lakewood Ranch Boulevard, cars will often continuously pass you. But the issue of speeding is just one of the many concerns for pedestrians and bicyclists who frequent the main thoroughfare in Lakewood Ranch.

"When we cross the intersections, sometimes there is a car that won’t stop and they'll keep going," says resident Teresa Montgomery. “Just up the road behind me they’re doing some construction in the woods, and you're forced to go on the road…and I tell you, just for that short time, it’s scary."

The safety concerns along the road reached an all-time high on April 4th. One of the bicyclists struck by Damery died as a result of his injuries.

One cyclist says the accident solidified concerns he's been having about the roadway. "Before that, I've taken myself off the street and I’m purely riding on the sidewalks now. I find most people do not observe the bike lanes.”

Data from Florida Highway Patrol shows this bicycle vs. car fatality was the 2nd bicycle accident at that intersection this year, and there were five accidents in the area in 2013.

"Any time there is a multiple lane roadway similar to Lakewood Ranch with a divided median, two lanes going into two direction, motorists tend to disregard the speed limit. And that’s something that’s dangerous," says Lt. Greg Benuo with FHP.

He says because of that danger, extra precaution must be used in that area. "Make sure when you're out on the road you know what’s in front of you, and what’s approaching you from behind. If you’re a bicyclist in the road and you're with in the bicycle lane, you must abide by all traffic laws as a vehicle would."

In the meantime Montgomery has a message for those who frequent the area. "Watch out for us, watch out for the walkers and the bicyclists."

As for the person responsible for the vehicle versus bicyclist accident, Damery's driving record in the past 3 years shows she’s received more than 6 citations.

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