GULF STREAM, Fla. — A crash along A1A in Gulf Stream that sent cyclists to the hospital is putting the wheels of safe road advocacy into motion.
"Everybody's question is, 'OK, now what's the action?' We have to get our hands dirty and really make the change," cyclist Cameron Oster said.
He's one of 10 other leaders from fellow cycle clubs that have joined forces to form the Florida Share the Road Coalition (FSRC).
"The mission is to make A1A in Palm Beach County safer for drivers and motor vehicles and recreational users while preserving the beauty and idyllic coastline," Oster said. "This isn't just about the people on bikes, this is about the safety of everyone."
He said he's been riding close to 20 years up and down A1A from Deerfield Beach to Palm Beach County.
Oster said the most dangerous portions of roads for bicycle-car traffic are through Gulf Stream and Manalapan just north of the Boynton Inlet due to limited pavement.
"There's no bike lane. There's no shoulder. There's not even unpaved runoff," Oster said. "So if you ride your bike within 6 inches of the white line on the shoulder of the road, your arm will actually hit branches that are hanging over that white shoulder line."
Oster said one of his close friends, who was hurt in the crash, is still in the intensive care unit recovering.
"From what I hear, it's going to be many weeks, four, six, eight weeks then go straight into a rehab facility before he has a chance to go home," Oster said.
The crash impacted many cycle clubs, whose members are now part of the FSRC.
"I've been hit where a car cut right in front of me, I slammed my break, still hit the car ruined my bike," cyclist Richard Gertler, who is also a member of the FSRC, said.
He said the coalition will be going town to town from Deerfield Beach to Palm Beach County, talking to leaders about adding signage, bike lanes and awareness along A1A.
"Come pedal in our shoes for a day and see what we experience," Gertler said. "We're people. We're somebody's mother, father, son, daughter."
The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles posted numbers on bike-related crashes in 2023:
- Indian River County: 41 bicycle crashes, 1 fatal
- Martin County: 87 crashes, 2 fatal
- Okeechobee County: 10 crashes, 0 fatal
- Palm Beach County: 670 crashes, 11 fatal
- St. Lucie County: 122 crashes, 4 fatal
Oster said cyclists were riding on the side of A1A near Gulf Stream on Wednesday when a car sped up to pass them, driving on the wrong side of the road at one point with oncoming traffic.
"This aggressive pass created a close call for people on bikes as well as the oncoming vehicles because of the speed of the vehicle overtaking the people on bikes," Oster said. "The vehicle then turned left into the Gulf Stream Gulf Club within just a couple hundred feet after making this aggressive pass on the people riding bikes."
According to Oster, a bike lane would have avoided the situation by creating a section of paved road designated for the cyclists to use and out of the way of the path of the car.
"The law permits cyclists to take the road and ride two abreast when passing," Gertler said. "So when we ride in a group two abreast rotating and constantly taking turns passing one another, that is compliant with the code."
The group said their first stop will be at the town council meeting in Gulf Stream on Friday.
The FSRC said they will also be meeting with other similar groups and organizations to look for ways to help improve their safety efforts and advocacy.
"We want to humanize the cyclist cause all too often a driver will start yelling," Gertler said. "We're not people to them. We're just an obstacle to them."