The South Florida Bike Coalition wants to remind you why it’s ALWAYS important to get a vehicle tag when the driver (almost) hits you. Anyone who drives in South Florida regularly, whether by car or bicycle, is likely to have some stories of ‘near misses’ – or worse. I can’t tell you how many stories I have heard over the last couple of years who were hit by cars and decided not to file a report or even get the driver’s name and contact information. Recently, some friends of SFBC were riding upwards of 20+ miles per hour along the bike lane in Miami Beach that connects to the Venetian Causeway. A distracted (or stupid?) driver gave our friends the quite ILLEGAL ‘Right Hook‘ which lead to a too-fast stop, a collision, two men down and, unbeknownst to our buddies on bicycles, one broken clavicle.
Some kind motorists (witnesses!) offered to help but our friends graciously declined, thinking everyone was fine. Despite the fact there were several fast cyclists who could have trailed the motorist to get a tag, no one did. What’s the point when everyone is okay? Some things to consider for next time:
Driving is a privilege, NOT a right. If someone hits you and is at fault, you have a responsibility to other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians to FILE A REPORT (details below). A driver who offers you some cash and then leaves does not necessarily understand what s/he did wrong and therefore, is very likely to do it again. Sad, but true. The driver can claim that s/he could not see you but distracted driving is NOT a defense. What is? Some of our roadways and intersections are poorly planned. Your report and the driver’s statement can help bring that location to the attention of city planners and engineers who have the ability to fix it. If they don’t hear from you or the police, however, it could stay that way until the next collision. Please, be proactive.
But I’m Fine!? You think you are fine and you may be. Just get the driver’s name and phone number, business card if possible, tag/license plate number if nothing else. This way, if you go home and find out you have a broken shoulder, you have options. Drivers in the State of Florida are required to carry some insurance. Whether or not you have insurance of your own, this can be incredibly helpful to you and your family if it turns out that you are hurt.
But Police Hate Bicyclists! First of all, that’s a gross generalization. Even if you are disrespected by an officer, you always have options. We are happy to help you find a police officer in the appropriate department with whom can have a productive discussion. If necessary, we can recommend attorneys and provide other support for you. If you have the driver’s contact information, you can also file a report after the fact.
So, How Do I File a Report? We are hoping to develop a pamphlet for local riders like you for each county, but here are the basics. In an emergency, always call 911. If not:
In Miami-Dade, you can call 311 if you do not have the number for your local police or are not sure what jurisdiction you are in. 311 can help direct you to the right department.
In Broward, you can call the Sheriff’s Office at (954) 765.4321
In Palm Beach, call (561) 838.5454.
When you call the police, be sure to have as much information as possible. Police will want to know EXACTLY where the near/collision occurred. Some questions they may (and should) ask:
- What direction were you riding? Where in the lane were you?
- Was it at night and did you have lights on the front and rear of your bicycle?
- Where was the motorist? What direction was the car moving? At roughly what speed?
- Were there witnesses? Do you have any contact information for them?
- Do you have pictures from the scene?
- Are you okay? Have you seen a doctor?
You may not have all the answers, but be as prepared as you can be. If you have questions, please contact us so that we can help. And Ride Safe, South Florida.