A group of bicyclists wants to put the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office on notice: do not harass riders.
Video you’ll only see on see on NewsChannel 5 shows a deputy ask and then practically force a group of bicyclists to ride in a single file line.
A camera on Mathias Sengberg’s handlebar recorded as a deputy in a marked pickup truck drove beside a group of 70 riders last Thursday on A1A in Manalapan.
“When that officer came very close it was very nerve-wracking,” Sengberg said.
In the video, you see the deputy and bicyclists nearly collide, both hit their brakes suddenly at times, and oncoming traffic forced to pull over.
The deputy has his lights flashing and at times used his loudspeaker to give the group instructions.
As an avid cyclist, attorney Jeff Vivo specializes in cases involving bicycles. He explained the law allows cyclists to ride two abreast on the road as long as they’re not impeding the flow of traffic.
While the group appears to block the lane at times, Sengberg argued his group averages 28 mph on the road which has a varying speed limit between 30 and 35 mph.
Vivo added the deputy was closer than three feet to bicyclists, which is against the law.
“Additionally he’s trying to I guess coral the cyclists using the side of his car,” Vivo pointed out.
Next Vivo plans to write the sheriff’s office a formal letter explaining this behavior is unacceptable.
“These are actions that are dangerous and could result in injury,” Vivo added.
But in the video it appears cyclists didn’t follow the deputy’s commands to pull over. Over the loudspeaker, he describes one rider; asking her to pull over.
The Police Benevolent Association President John Kazanjian served for 30 years with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. He also rides his bicycle ten miles per day.
He believes the deputy was simply trying to keep the group safe by having it take up less room in the lane.
“All they did was give the deputy a hard time, but I don’t think anyone got a ticket. If it was me, I would’ve given two or three of them a ticket,” Kazanjian said.
A spokesperson said the sheriff’s office wouldn’t comment on the video until the agency had a chance to review the entire situation and speak with the people involved.
Sengberg said he respects law enforcement, but expects officers to handle situations like this in different ways.
“Especially on that narrow of a road, that’s a situation that could have been handled much differently and not put many people’s lives at risk,” Sengberg said.
There is one thing everyone agrees to: drivers, bicyclists, deputies and citizens should all pay closer attention to how they share the road with one another so everyone makes it home safely.