By Kylynn Pelkey | firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Augustine streets are flooded with bicycles as summer comes to an end and college classes resume, but one Flagler Communications student, Jovie Reeves, 22, is scared to ride her bike after being hit by a car earlier this summer.
“He didn’t see me when he pulled out and when he hit me, I fell into oncoming traffic,” Reeves said. “My adrenaline was pumping and I thought I was fine but when I got home I realized my elbow was broken.”
Bike officer for the City of St. Augustine Police Dept., Jeff Truncellito, estimates there is one reported bicycle-vehicle accident a month, but he’s surprised that there is not more.
“The streets in St. Augustine are so narrow,” Truncellito said. “It’s a combination of people not familiar with the area, driving looking around like tourists do and also some of the bicyclists not following the traffic laws.”
In Reeves case, she did not file a report but instead exchanged information with the vehicle driver and went on her way.
“It was just one of those freak accidents,” Reeves said.
Bike shop owner, Jim Dean, said he’s seen more than enough bikes damaged by vehicle related accidents in the 34 years he’s owned Island Bicycle in St. Augustine.
“I’ll tell you what it is, it’s the bikers riding the wrong way down the road,” Dean said. “Cars can’t see them and hit them because they are going the wrong way.”
According to Truncellito, Florida law says it is legal to ride a bike on a sidewalk. But the city of St. Augustine has created laws making it strictly illegal to ride a bike on a sidewalk.
“Do I always enforce that? No,” Truncellito said.
Florida laws also require all bicycles to abide by motor vehicle laws.
“I think a lot of people just aren’t familiar with the laws,” Dean said. “They aren’t aware of what they can and can’t do.”
In Reeves case, after two months of physical therapy, she is once again riding her bike. But not everyone is lucky enough to walk away from an accident.
“It’s terrible what happened,” Reeves said, referring to the death of Bryan Wrigley, 23, a University of St. Augustine student who was killed by a hit and run driver in April while riding his bike on County Road 214.
Police are still looking for the driver of the blue Ford pickup that hit Wrigley and then drove away.
Reeves feel fortunate that she was not hurt more seriously after also being hit by a truck.
“I was extremely lucky that the person that hit me was more than willing to call the police or take me to the hospital,” Reeves said.