SUV Backs Over Cyclist but Driver Escapes Punishment Because Cop Didn't Know the Law

Categories: Bike Blog

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Yesterday afternoon, Carlos Dominguez and his girlfriend, Andrea Corrales, went for a bike ride. The couple headed toward a trail in North Miami, with Dominguez biking in the road and Corrales cycling on the sidewalk, where she felt safer.

They never made it to the trail. Instead, a black SUV backed into Corrales, knocking her violently to the ground and crunching her $2,000 bike. But it wasn't until a Miami-Dade Police officer showed up that the traffic accident turned truly absurd.

"He didn't ask her one question, he didn't check how she was, he didn't even check if the guy was intoxicated," Dominguez says of the cop. "Here in Miami, police treat cyclists as less than regular citizens."

See also: Critical Mass: It's Time for Miami Police and Motorists to Respect Bike Riders

The SUV hit Corrales in the thigh, Dominguez says, slamming her into the street, knocking her head onto the concrete, cutting her arm and knee, and possibly breaking her wrist (she is getting x-rays today). "If she didn't have a helmet, it could have been a lot worse," says Dominguez, pointing out they were both wearing bright red and sporting cycling lights.

Andrea_Corrales_injury.jpg
Courtesy of Carlos Dominguez
Miami-Dade Police have not yet responded to requests for comment or a report on the accident. As soon as they do, we will update.

According to Dominguez, the officer -- whose last name is Martin and badge number is 5704 -- ignored the injured cyclist and spoke to only the driver. But instead of citing the SUV driver, Martin chatted with him happily before letting him go.

"It was like, 'Thanks for hitting someone. Have a nice day!'" Dominguez says of the cop's conversation with the driver. Then Martin handed a police report to Dominguez and prepared to leave.

"You're not going to give him a ticket?" Dominguez asked in disbelief. "Why not?"

"Because bikers aren't supposed to ride on the sidewalk," the cop answered.

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Courtesy of Carlos Dominguez
Dominguez whipped out his iPhone and pulled up the "Bicycle Regulations" section in Florida Statutes:
316.2065
(9) A person propelling a vehicle by human power upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, has all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.

But he says the cop refused to look at the law. Dominguez then asked to speak to Martin's supervisor. Yet Sgt. E. Moreira wasn't much more help. According to Dominguez, Moreira admitted Martin should have looked up the statute, but the sergeant did not cite the driver, nor did he promise to investigate.

Dominguez said his girlfriend is considering legal action to force the driver to pay for bike repairs. Ironically, the driver had been apologetic until the cop showed up. But when the officer blamed the bikers, the driver did too.

"She's a single mom with three kids," Dominguez says of Corrales. "She gets hit by a car, and suddenly she has to pay for a new bike? That's not fair."

But Dominguez says he's angry about more than just yesterday's incident. "This is yet another incident where the cops have no concern for cyclists," he says.

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Indeed, Miami is often ranked one of the worst cities in America for cyclists. The accident also comes just a few months after Miami Police seemed to drag its feet while investigating a hit-and-run during Critical Mass. Instead of arresting the driver, cops took a tricyclist to jail for selling ice cream without a license (the charges were dropped).

"If this were an accident between two vehicles, someone would have gotten a citation," Dominguez says. "But a human life on a bicycle doesn't receive that same right just because their vehicle has two wheels and is powered by their feet? That's totally unfair."

"I'm going to take it as far as it can go," Dominguez says of his complaint. "I'm not looking for money or anything. I'm just looking for there to be a consequence when someone hits a cyclist -- and for police to know their statutes and enforce them."

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19 comments
Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

She should have looked where she was going.  Didn't she see the SUV?  If she did see the SUV backing out did she willfully decide to continue and not attempt to avoid contact?

I can cite numerous times where cyclists seem to appear out of nowhere under the false assumption that some state law supersedes the laws of physics.

foaswag
foaswag

I was the victim of  a hit and run driver while on my bike. I was crossing Coral Way at SW 79th ave. when a car; traveling north on 79th ave. blasted through a right turn on red. I had a feeling that he wasn't going to sloww down or stop, so I started pedaling faster. I basically managed to get out of the way, but the car clipped my rear wheel. I was flung to the ground, and my bike was basically destroyed. After I regained consciousness, I walked 3 blocks to the nearest hospital. I had a concussion, 4 broken ribs, a broken clavicle, and a radial fracture of my scapula. Not to mention $30,000 worth of medical and surgical bills. To say that Miami cops don't know the law is a severe understatement of the real problem. MIAMI IS FULL OF DRIVERS WITH THEIR HEAD LODGED FIRMLY UP THEIR ASSES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Lauren Kathryn
Lauren Kathryn

The sidewalk is always blocked by drivers nosing out of parking lots...I'd say the street is safer.

shooz
shooz

She can still file a claim against the driver's insurance, regardless of whether the driver was ticketed.

Phil Ramirez
Phil Ramirez

that SUV driver was either a Cuban politician or a Jewish lawyer who, smoothly, talked his way out of the situation. Anyway, the only safe area for cyclist, at least in Miami, are Rickenbacker Causeway and Old Cutler Road, south of Sunset past the Cocoplum rotonda all the way to Arvida Parkway. Those sidewalks are as wide as the Turnpike and, since is Gables, no Hialean would dare to run you over.

krismainieri
krismainieri

What if that was a cop on a bike? Who's going to pay for her bike?

ambiguity
ambiguity

Local Ordinances
• The governments of counties, cities, and other municipalities can adopt ordinances regulating bicycle operation. Some towns may also have registration and licensing ordinances. Sidewalk riding may be prohibited entirely, or in certain areas such as business districts. Local law enforcement agencies can provide copies of local ordinances.

Ignorantia juris non excusat 

Craig Chester
Craig Chester

@robbie - It's legal in Miami. Statistically it is more dangerous than the road. However, that's no excuse for what the SUV driver did - the pathetic police response especially.

Sal Macaraig
Sal Macaraig

'bicyclists own the fucking road down here' Have you ever actually ridden a bike in South Florida?

Robbie Squire
Robbie Squire

She shouldn't have been riding on the sidewalk and it is in most cases illegal to do so.

opusthepoet
opusthepoet

@Anthonyvop1 The SUV backed out as she was crossing behind it and then ran over her bike. She couldn't see the SUV because the SUV was still parked until she went behind it. And cyclists do not "appear out of nowhere". Drivers don't look for them and are surprised as hell when one shows up spread across the windshield or back bumper.

cpchester
cpchester

@ambiguity Believe the only place in MD County that has enacted such a local ordinance is Bal Harbor and downtown Coral Gables. 

sigmiami
sigmiami

Robbie: Please acquaint yourself with Florida statue 316.2065 section 9 before writing nonsense.

Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

@opusthepoet @Anthonyvop1  

So you admit she drove behind an SUV that was backing up?

Physics dictates that a cyclist always give the right of way to a motor vehicle.  Laws or no laws!

Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

@opusthepoet Opie,  Where you there?  All I read is some little girl rode up quickly behind a SUV before the driver can react.

Jeez!  You must be a Liberal.  Only a Liberal thinks that a law will actually protect them.

Did that law protect the spandex queen?  Did the law nullify the laws of Physics.  Did the law make either better drivers or cyclists?

opusthepoet
opusthepoet

@Anthonyvop1 @opusthepoet Reading comprehension is your friend. The SUV was not moving when the cyclist started to cross behind it so the cyclist had no idea it was about to back up. And the law also says that drivers crossing sidewalks must yield to what's already there, you can't just barge across because you might hit and hurt someone. And your "physics" statement is only slightly removed from the law of the jungle.

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