Stiffer penalties for injuring bicyclists?

Posted at 10:51 PM, Feb 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-23 07:58:15-05
As the legislative session heads into its final weeks, lawmakers will have to decide if motorists should face stiffer penalties for injuring bicyclists.
This is the second straight year Rep. Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples), has tried to get House Bill 253 passed.
The bill would cap fines at $2,500 for anyone who injures a cyclist or pedestrian. Passidomo's law partner Chuck Kelly is also calling on legislators to pass the bill.
Kelly suffered severe injuries while on his bike after a pick-up truck hit him a the intersection of Harbor Drive and Crayton Road in January of 2014.
"I spent 5 days in the hospital and fractured 4 vertebras, six ribs, scapula and collapsed lung."
Adding insult to injury, he says the driver only had to pay a $171 fine and did not have to appear in court.
"In my situation the driver was given a ticket for improper passing, even though I was turning left at a lighted intersection."
The proposal gives judges flexibility to levy fines and punishments according to the severity of the accident.  It also helps law enforcement crack down on drivers who don't give cyclists at least three feet of space, and drivers who pass over a double yellow line.
"You're in a vehicle, you're surrounded by a steel cage.  If you're walking, pushing a baby stroller, there is no steel cage around you to protect you," said Kelly.
The bill cleared a house committee Monday.  It needs approval by the entire legislature before Governor Scott can sign it into law.