A Naples bicyclist was rushed to the hospital this morning, after he was hit from behind by a van that crossed into the bike lane on Immokalee Road.
Edward Stephan, 54, was hit just before 7 a.m. while riding in the early morning fog just south of Oil Well Road. He was thrown and skidded nearly 60 feet before coming to a rest, suffered serious injuries and was taken to NCH North Naples Hospital, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
He was still in serious condition and being treated in the emergency room Saturday.
The driver of the van, Daniel Barberena, 28, of Naples, was headed north on Immokalee, too, and in the fog let the van drift two feet into the bike lane, police said.
Troopers charged Barberena with careless driving.
The accident comes a few weeks after a speeding pickup truck hit bicyclist Chuck Kelly while he was on a morning ride with several dozen other riders. Kelly, 57, punctured a lung, broke several bones and suffered a concussion.
Kelly’s crash prompted the creation of the new task force for bike and pedestrian safety.
The two crashes show the immediate need to raise awareness about the unprotected dangers bikers and pedestrians face on the road, said Patrick Ruff, president of the Naples Pathways Coalition.
"This happens all the time," Ruff said. "And there’s going to be a little story in the paper, and everyone moves on. But people don’t realize how much someone’s life just changed. For the next two-and-a-half years someone’s life is now dramatically and totally different than it was this morning. And the costs are incredible."
The task force will host its first gathering March 1 at Cambier Park. Police, homeowners, local politicians and government officials will meet to talk and learn about road safety, as well as educate as many as possible about laws requiring a three-foot buffer between cars and other vehicles.
The pathways coalition also plans to push state lawmakers to enact minimum fines and sentences for drivers that strike bicyclists, Ruff said.
"Everyone needs to get smarter about this – the cyclists and motorists, the police," Ruff said. "Civility has to creep in."