Weekend death marks fifth bicyclist killed in Hillsborough County in less than three months

Jim Shirk, who chairs the committee, discussed the idea of creating an account with Hillsborough County to fund such a program at the meeting last Wednesday.

Cycling activist Jose Menendez mentioned soliciting financial donations from local corporations.

In addition to funding front and rear bike lights, others at the meeting mentioned safety posters, safety vests and obtaining meeting space as other productive things they could do to spread the word and offer help to enhance bike safety in Hillsborough County.

Chair Jim Shirk said the biggest gap right now is a lack of knowledge among cyclists, with too many of them riding incorrectly. That's the group he said he wanted to contact.

One member of the panel said that while lights were good, a safety vest "is going to save your life."

Ultimately, the committee voted to establish a fund to implement a bike safety plan with those funds going to purchase lights, vests, and safety posters that could be displayed, preferably in neighborhoods where some of these bicycling fatalities or severe accidents have taken place.

The Tampa Tribune reported on Monday that an unknown man on a bicycle trying to cross U.S. 41 at Crystal Lake Road died early Sunday morning after he pulled in front of a northbound Ford Fusion. The Ford then struck and killed the bicyclist.

The death marks the fifth cyclist in Hillsborough killed in 2012 alone, and the seventh in 86 days, going back to Christmas Eve. And it comes as the Bike/Pedestrian Advisory Committee in Hillsborough County is poised to go forward in implementing a safety plan that would include offering lights for cyclists to put on the front and back of their bikes.

That's crucial, because many of these fatalities have occurred at night, and some of the cyclists did not have or were not using lights on their rides at the time of the accidents.

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