Vigilante cyclist Ken Bereski films bad drivers

It's past midnight on Super Bowl Sunday when a sedan barrels through the bike lane on 16th Street at Alton Road, right at cyclist Ken Bereski.

Bereski slams on his handbrakes and swerves. The car squeals to a halt inches from his tire. "You do realize this is a bike lane, right?" Bereski hollers.

"You got a problem?" a rotund man behind the wheel demands. The driver opens his door, but he's so fat he can't pull himself out to fight.

Bereski bikes away laughing — but shaken at the close call.

Like all of Bereski's encounters with Miami's terrible drivers, the near-fistfight was caught on camera. Bereski, a computer consultant who bikes thousands of miles a year, got so tired of getting run off the road that he outfitted his red Raleigh with digital cameras on the front and back, launched a website — — and plans to shame the worst of the worst motorists online.

"If you're not going to apologize and listen to what I'm saying about bike safety, I'm going to put your face online," Bereski says.

A sharp-featured 30-year-old with ice-blue eyes, Bereski moved to Miami after finishing college in Boston in 2006. He had always biked around Beantown, so when he started an Apple consulting company in South Florida, he figured he'd do the same.

What he didn't take into account were the Magic City's legendarily awful drivers and the area's lack of infrastructure for bikers. That combination is so bad that Bicycling Magazine in 2008 ranked Miami the third worst city in the nation for cyclists.

Bereski saw that firsthand. As he biked from South Miami to Aventura, he saw road rage and swerving texters, and watched cops, buses, and city vehicles alike run him off the street.

The final straw came two years ago when a cabbie hit him (also on 16th Street at Alton) and then had several other drivers lie to police. "I decided, 'Why not catch everything on camera so no one can lie about it?'" he says.

So Bereski dropped a couple hundred bucks on two small, cigar-shaped digital cameras and then jury-rigged mounts for them below his handlebars and above his back tire.

Since then, he has collected hours of unedited video. He says he worried at first about putting the near-crashes online — but then he points to a small gold sticker under his handlebars: "This bike protected by closed-circuit cameras."

"Don't say you weren't warned," he says, smiling.

(Check our Riptide blog this week for some of Bereski's videos.)

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink

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