Cyclist Hit by Car in South Beach, Then Handed $180 Citation by Police

Jon Ranellone was cycling home in South Beach around 1 a.m. last Friday when a car slammed into him. The accident, in front of the Panera at 14th Street, threw him from his bike onto the asphalt.

But that wasn't the worst part of the ordeal, the video editor says; as he lay on the ground near his mangled bike, he says, police officers handed him a $180 ticket for allegedly riding his bike against traffic in the street. Ranellone says he was using the sidewalk, not the street, and the ticket ignores the fact that he was a victim.

"I know and everybody knows you can’t ride in the street against traffic on Alton, unless you’re trying to kill yourself,” he says.  

The wreck happened after a few games of pool and two drinks at Veterans of Foreign Wars bar on South Beach. Ranellone hopped on his bike around 1 a.m. to head home. Using the sidewalk, he pedaled north on Alton Road. As the 14th St. intersection approached, he passed a Domino’s on his left, and then rode over a down-ramp to cross the street.

But as he entered the crosswalk, he was slammed into by a car turning southbound on Alton, thrown off his bike into the road.

“He hit my leg, I rolled forward and landed on my shoulder and side of my head,” says Ranellone, a video editor at MindGeek. “I was in a confused state, I was laying on the ground with cuts and bruises.”

Someone called an ambulance, and medical technicians arrived to care for Ranellone. After declaring his injuries weren’t critical, they instructed him not to take the ambulance, but instead to monitor his symptoms on his own.

And then, as he prepared to walk home with his mangled bike, he was smacked with the citation by Miami Beach police. The reason: riding his bike against traffic in the street, which is against bicycle laws. "Driving on wrong lane or side, failed to drive upon right half of roadway, riding bike NB in SB lane, resulting in crash,” the citation reads.

“I told him I was riding on the sidewalk but he said the evidence and where the bike ended up suggests I was not on the sidewalk and that I was riding against traffic,” Ranellone says.

Ranellone insists he only entered the street briefly at a down-ramp to cross at the intersection. According to state law, that is legal: “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.”

The officer told Ranellone he could appeal the citation by going to court. If the driver doesn’t show up, the charge and fee are dropped.

“But if he does show up I’ll probably have to pay court fees,” Ranellone says. "So I'll probably just pay it." 

Ranellone says the spokes and chain on his mountain bike are bent, and that it no longer switches into third gear. That night, he says the officer said there was no damage to the bike.

But damage to the car, according to the citation: $1,000.
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Jessica Weiss