12346994681?profile=RESIZE_710xMembers of the cyclist community came together in solidarity Saturday to advocate for safer roads at the site of a Jan. 4 State Road A1A crash in Gulf Stream that sent six bikers and the driver of the SUV who crashed into them to the hospital. That stretch of A1A in Gulf Stream has no designated bike path.  Photos by Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
 

Related: Lantana woman driving SUV crashes into A1A cyclists; A1A bike club ‘tragedy’ leaves couple fighting for their lives; Separate lanes for bikes coming to Boca’s stretch of A1A in 2027

By Anne Geggis

Hundreds of cyclists gathered en masse Saturday morning at the site of a Jan. 4 pre-dawn crash along State Road A1A — including those injured when a car knocked down a pack of cyclists “like bowling pins.”

About 400 gathered in solidarity with members of Galera do Pedal — which is Portuguese for Pedal Guys. The cycling club was at the wrong place at the wrong time when a southbound Lantana woman crossed the center line and plowed into the northbound club riders, according to a Florida Highway Patrol report. One rider is still in critical condition and two others are hospitalized with serious injuries from the Gulf Stream incident.

Cyclists are more than just a nuisance, cyclists said.

“When you hit us, most of the time, we die — we are human,” sad Ross Dubin of Boynton Beach, 53, who’s in cybersecurity sales and has been riding up and down A1A for 15 years. “We pay taxes. We have children.”

Like many, he was shaking his head at the video taken from the taillight of one of the bikers that showed the southbound car hurtling into those pedaling north.

“It was like bowling pins,” he said. “It’s crazy. She came across the road and knocked them down.” 

The show of solidarity with the injured — and all cyclists who have endured intolerant and distracted motorists — was also a plea for visibility and an opportunity to speak out about the need to improve the road so bicyclists can move along the scenic road safely.

It didn’t have to happen — even if the motorist in Thursday’s crash did make an unexpected move, said Cameron Oster, 37, of Boca Raton, of 3R Cycling Experience, which hosts cycling events.

“If there had been 5 or 6 feet to the right of the white line …” he said, shaking his head.

The stretch of North Ocean Boulevard, alongside Gulf Stream Golf Club, that was the scene of mangled bicycles Thursday has an unpaved shoulder and has only a few inches of pavement between piles of pine needles and the white line demarking motorist lanes. It’s that way for three miles.

Jeanine Seeger, 45, of Boynton Beach, president of the Alpha Cycling Club, said she’s endured plenty on the road — she knows of motorists throwing things at cyclists — but nothing prepared her for what she came upon Thursday morning as first responders came to the scene to help the bikers and the driver, who were among seven who went to the hospital early Thursday. 

“We were terrified — it was the most horrific scene I’ve ever seen,” she said, recalling how she saw CPR in progress and “blood everywhere.”

Motorist inattention and outright hostility point to an urgent need, she said.

“We've been trying for years to get safer roads,” Seeger said.

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Jordana Lyra, wearing a sling from an injury she received in the Jan. 4 incident, hugs one of the other victims who wished to remain unnamed. Another of the riders in the pack was Bruno Ramos, in blue shirt to the left of Lyra.

The incident has sent shockwaves throughout the community. Delray Beach Mayor Shelly Petrolia cited the collision at a Thursday workshop on a $100 million plan to make the city safer for pedestrians and cyclists. Petrolia had reservations about the price tag of the entire raft of suggestions, but wanted to move ahead with improving the city’s section of A1A.

“That’s an area that we should focus on as one of the places that we can make safer,” she said. “... The bike traffic isn’t going anywhere.”

No law enforcement personnel were apparent at Saturday’s event with flashing blue lights to enforce safety; Gulf Stream Police Chief Richard Jones said his department purposely opted to take a low profile during the event. He and other officers were nearby, ready to assist if needed, he said.

The rally organizers directed cyclists to make their stand far off the road, against the town's cherished Australian pines, which form a canopy over A1A in the area, as participants began gathering just after 7 a.m.

For Diego Rico, attending Saturday’s gathering via video phone from his hospital bed, it was also an opportunity to vent about the circumstances that dislocated his shoulder, broke his femur, shattered his pelvis, required 20 stitches and resulted in a blood clot on his brain, in addition to potentially compromising his spine.

“Nobody is holding anyone accountable,” said Rico, 37, of Coconut Creek.

Of the motorist, Rico said, “Nobody’s talking about where she was rushing to …  that she nearly killed us.”

Officially, there has been no word about why the 77-year-old driving a Kia Soul subcompact SUV crossed the road into the cycling pack.

Jordana Lyra, another member of the cycling group, was there with her arm in a sling. Bruno Ramos, 41, of Deerfield Beach, was also there, recalling how he was pedaling alongside Rico when tragedy struck. He urged motorists to be more cognizant.

“If you’re going up against a bike, it’s like you have a weapon in your hands,” Ramos said. 

Michele LaMartina, 47, of Boca Raton, would have been cycling with Galera do Pedal – a bike club with many members of Brazilian heritage – if it had been a weekend morning. Saturday she took her place among the cyclists.

Motorists in a hurry should use a different road, she said, noting that A1A has a unique purpose.

“Appreciate the view,” she said. “Appreciate life.”

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