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Deadly bike crash prompts First Coast News to look at the status of biking in St. Augustine

The Department of Transportation has erased plans for bike lanes for a project on US-1 in St. Augustine.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — On the corner of US-1 and King Street, police say a young woman was riding a bike. She and a semi collided and the bicyclist died because of that crash, according to authorities.    

The Department of Transportation has a major plan for US-1 in St. Augustine, starting in 2021. However, the plans to make it more bike-friendly have been nixed. 

"I ride my bike or run every day," Heather Neville said. She lives in St. Augustine. She has long been an advocate for cycling, and she consults city governments about how to make their roads more bike-friendly.

Neville believes cycling lessens traffic congestions, eases parking woes and, for some, it’s the only transportation they can afford.

When it comes to the latest bike statistics and St. Johns County, she said, "fatalities are actually down. Crashes are pretty consistent."

First Coast News has learned that the Florida Department of Transportation has plans to re-work US-1 in St. Augustine. It had included plans to create a bike and shuttle lane along the major roadway.

However, FDOT has removed that bike lane from the plans because, according to an agency spokesperson, some business owners and residents did not want to lose some on-street parking spaces.

That’s hard for cyclists like Neville to hear.  

"It’s just another place where we could have improved mobility," Neville said. "And we’re going to suffer for another 5 – 20 years. In the DOT’s defense, if the community comes out and pummels them, you know, they are civil servants just like the rest of us."

She says something similar happened on San Marco Avenue in St. Augustine. A bike lane was planned, but some business owners wanted the state to keep a few parking spaces along the road, so the bike lane was erased from the plans.    

Neville, commenting on San Marco Avenue's current condition said, "It’s just even more compressed than it was before, for traffic congestion and crossing safety."

But she says St. Augustine and St. Johns County have other cycling projects in the works. 

And while the sad news deadly bicycle crash days ago may deter some from peddling, "by and large, it’s a safe mode of transportation," Neville said. 

Police have not released the name of the cyclist and have not said who was at fault.

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