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

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.

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

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

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."

Follow Michael E. Miller on Twitter.

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