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Gulf Stream Mayor Scott Morgan speaks with (l to r)  Felipe Costa, president of the Galera do Pedal cycle club; Cameron Oster, a cyclist from Boca Raton; and Jeramy Pritchett, a cyclist from Deerfield Beach, at Gulf Stream Town Hall following the Jan. 12 Town Commission meeting. The group of cyclists attended the meeting advocating for safer roads and looking for a way to prevent future crashes following one Jan. 4 on State Road A1A 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. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

A new cycling coalition formed in the wake of a Jan. 4 crash has asked the town to act to make the roads safer 

By Anne Geggis

Emotions spilled over as members of the cycling community appeared before the Gulf Stream Town Commission as it met for the first time since a motorist’s Jan. 4 collision with cyclists sent seven to the hospital.

Felipe Costa of Deerfield Beach, who started the bike group, Galera do Pedal, was briefly overcome Friday as he started his plea to make the town’s stretch of State Road A1A safer.

“Today, my group that I helped create — we have 300 riders from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale — unfortunately the injured riders from last week …” Costa said, his voice faltering.

“They are in your group?” Mayor Scott Morgan said, jumping in to fill the silence as he signaled for someone to bring Costa a bottle of water he had with him.

“Yeah,” Costa replied, struggling to keep his voice level.

No official explanation has emerged as to why a 77-year-old Lantana woman southbound in a subcompact SUV crossed the center line and knocked into the pack of cyclists who were heading north, pedaling alongside the Gulf Stream Golf Club.

That stretch of the road has little pavement to the right of the white line demarking car lanes.

Costa said that one of the riders, a mother of three young children, was finally discharged from the hospital Thursday. Her husband is still on life support from his injuries in the accident, and another is undergoing intensive rehabilitation, recovering from a dislocated shoulder, a shattered pelvis and stitches.

“It was a terrible accident,” Town Commissioner Joan Orthwein said.

The sheer number of casualties in the Jan. 4 crash and the footage of the accident, along a road that attracts sightseers from all over the world, has brought new visibility to the tight space between motorists, cyclists, joggers and walkers along A1A and other area roads.

There were 670 bicyclist-related crashes in Palm Beach County in 2023 that caused 11 fatalities, according to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department.

Last week’s incident, captured on a bicycle tail light camera’s video, has sparked a request from the town to the state for bicycle safety signs to go along A1A. It also galvanized a new coalition of South Florida bicycle groups, Florida Share the Road Coalition, joining together to make the case for spreading the word about cyclists’ rights and the need to improve road safety. Two other speakers at Friday’s meeting came there on behalf of the new group.

After the meeting, though, the mayor told the group that the idea of adding to the width of the road is a nonstarter. And the town wouldn’t have anything to say about it either because the state has authority over A1A. However, past proposals by the state to widen the road have been met with opposition from the town.

The close proximity of the road to homes and protected Australian pines make it impossible, Morgan said.

Cameron Oster, 37, of Boca Raton, of 3R Cycling Experience, which hosts cycling events, also spoke at Friday’s meeting. He asked for bicycling sharrows — symbols on the pavement that indicate to motorists that they should expect to share the road.

Morgan also has more education in mind.

“We really need to promote single-file cycling through the town of Gulf Stream,” he said.

 

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Comments

  • I visit the beach to do yoga with friends on many early Saturdays throughout the year.  We arrive around 8AM and often encounter the cyclist.  We are aware of road sharing as we are with pedestrians on their walks.  I too have walked A1A. 

    It was sad to hear of the accident that recently ocurred.  I pray everyone is healing and recovering as best as possible.  

    The road definitely needs upgrading for the cyclist as well as motorist.  Too often I have encountered disrespectful cyclist who appear to be defiant by hogging the road and not giving acces to traffic.  They tend to ride along side one another rather than in single file.  As a motorist, I have to cross over the double line to avoid hitting them.  I also have to make sure there is no other traffic coming in the opposite direction.  It slows the normal flow of traffic.  On one occasion I was turning into the beach entrance and the cyclist were blocking the entrance and yelled at me trying to enter.  They were rude, loud, cursing me and boisterous.  Very disrespectful.  

    Yes, the road need to be redesigned but the cyclist need to learn some respect for the rest of the community.

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