After one cyclist dies from tragic accident, Suncoast residents demand safety changes

GF Default - One of four critically injured bicyclists released from the hospital
GF Default - One of four critically injured bicyclists released from the hospital
Updated: Nov. 8, 2018 at 5:45 PM EST
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VENICE, FL (WWSB) - The cycling community and many residents on the Suncoast are now demanding change after learning one of the four bike riders hit by a car last week has died. The other three are still recovering from their injuries.

The accident happened at the intersection of Center Road and Rockley Boulevard.

Although state troopers have said the driver of the vehicle was not at fault because the bicyclists made an improper lane change, residents say they still plan on fighting for safety changes in honor of Jack Harrison and all those who have lost their lives in these type of accidents.

“He was in the top three of distance bikers in the whole world, against 40,000 other cyclists, so he was always a mentor to all of us. He taught us a lot about biking and bike safety,” said Todd Barber, a close friend of Harrison.

He says all cyclists know that safety is still a big issue, and all the new developments and construction have made it even more dangerous for bike riders and vehicles to share the road.

“We try really hard to find paths that don’t interfere with cars, but this time of year, we have a lot of northerners around and they haven’t seen all the construction changed going on. They’re confused by the roads. Our speed limits are too fast 45 that should be reduced to 35 mph and there’s not enough time for people to react,” Barber explained.

And that’s the first thing residents are hoping to accomplish.

Dozens pleaded to county commissioners at this week’s meeting to change the speed limit on center road from 45 miles per hour to 35 miles per hour, and hope that this can be done on all roads that have bike lanes.

Another cyclist who survived a separate accident on this same road, hopes community leaders will remember all the accidents that have happened in the area.

“Statistics say that if you’re hit in a car accident by a car going more than 40 miles per hour, you have an 80% chance of dying. God had something else for me to do, and I think it’s to take care of the speed limit on Center Road,” said Patricia Abde.

Florida is a very bicycle-friendly state, but not everyone knows the rules, so neighbors are also hoping some type of educational program is implemented as well.

“I know Jack would appreciate us all being safer and enjoying the sport,” said Barber.

Sarasota County Commissioners say they will be looking into changing the speed limit on center road and will discuss other options at a later meeting.

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