The Lakeland Police Department closed the eastbound lanes of US 98 at the intersection of N. Florida Avenue. The accident happened at approximately 12:40 p.m. and involved more than one vehicle. At that point in the roadway, the east-west road becomes George Jenkins Boulevard while US 98 turns north onto Florida Avenue. The bicyclist was Kenneth J. Cecere and was taken to Lakeland Regional Health Medical Center with serious injuries.
I know this area well and have an idea that the bicyclist was hit crossing the busy highway outside a crosswalk. This happens all too often in this part of Lakeland. Bicyclists follow the rules of the road (same as cars) when riding on the road and follow pedestrian rules while on the sidewalks. Because the bike was in the roadway (and not in a crosswalk) at the time of the impact, the bicyclist would have had a legal obligation to ride to the right of the road and to wait until an intersection before attempting to cross the road (just like cars have to do).
The safest thing for this bicyclist to have done under the circumstances was to use the sidewalk and rely on the pedestrian regulations by waiting for a protected walk signal at the crosswalk. Judging from the broken glass, the impact was very significant and the bicyclist must be suffering immensely right now. While no one deserves to be injured, the rules of the road are there for a reason. Accidents happen when people don’t follow the rules of the road.
Catch-All For Florida Pedestrian Cases
Despite the rules of the road, there is one particular quirk to this accident–there is a large field of view for a driver to see a jaywalking pedestrian or an errant bicyclist. If a case such as this went to a trial, a jury could find some degree of comparative fault on the driver of the car for failure to notice the bicyclist and slow down or stop accordingly pursuant to section 316.130(15), Florida Statutes below:
Notwithstanding other provisions of this chapter, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian …
From the impact damage, this car could easily have been moving at 50 mph at the moment of impact. It is common to see paralysis, traumatic brain injuries, or severe spinal cord injuries from a crash such as this one.