SENOIA, Ga. – Cyclist Tony Miles is recovering after being struck by a passing car Tuesday night. But he hopes his pain will bring awareness to other drivers.
A group of four cyclists were traveling north on Johnson Road in Senioa, Ga., in a single file line, toward the right shoulder, Georgia State Patrol Cpl. Chris McEntyre said, when a driver became impatient and then dangerous.
Miles said it was a typical Tuesday-night ride with a 30-cyclist group. It was still daylight, however, the cyclists, he said, were wearing reflective clothing and adorned their bikes with blinking lights.
He and three others had fallen toward the back and separated from the larger group when at approximately 8 p.m., a red Honda Fit attempted to pass the cyclists on the left, but did not allow enough room for the cyclist.
According to Georgia law 40-6-56, a driver must give a “safe distance,” defined as no less than three feet, when passing a cyclist on the road.
“…when feasible, the operator of a motor vehicle, when overtaking and passing a bicycle that is proceeding in the same direction on the roadway, shall leave a safe distance between such vehicle and the bicycle and shall maintain such clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle.”
“We had come up Gordon Road as we were doing our ride, we were coming up a hill and we heard a car blowing its horn at us,” Miles said, unable to get the constant blaring of the horn out of his head even today.
“Just the constant sound of the horn. We took a right on to Johnson Road. About three or four minutes later I was about 25 feet ahead of the group and we heard the same horn again. This time I could hear him accelerating past the other three cyclists and heard him coming up behind me blowing the horn. Next thing I know, I’m hit.”
The Honda struck the lead cyclist with the passenger side of the vehicle, knocking off its door’s mirror. Following the collision, the driver fled the scene.
“The driver sped off. Never stopped. Never even slowed down or put the brakes on. Kept going.”
The three cyclists behind Miles stopped to render aid, and several motorists who witnessed the incident stopped and called 911.
“I landed on the road on my side. Scrapped myself up. His rearview mirror hit me in my hip. My elbow I’m assuming hit the windshield of the car as I went down,” Miles, who was wearing a helmet, said. “I’m laying [sic] on the pavement. Every time I sat up, I couldn’t breathe from hurting my back. I never lost consciousness.”
He hit his heard during his fall, but was wearing a helmet. He was taken to Atlanta Medical Center for his injuries, where his reflective cycling gear had to be cut from his body.
The only damage to his bike was an $8 part next to the left shifter, he said, but the value of his bike is approximately $4,000.
His bike’s GPS calculated that he was traveling at about 20 m.p.h. He was hit hard enough, he said that he estimated the car was doing at least 35 m.p.h.
“I was just totally shocked. How do you leave a human being? If it was an accident I can understand you stopping, saying you’re sorry. But they just left. That is just the way some people are I guess.”
Miles has a message for the driver and all drivers who see a cyclist on the road.
“Cyclists are people too. We have families. I’m a husband, father, step-father, firefighter, paramedic. I’m no different than anyone else. I just happen to use a bicycle as a form of exercise to stay healthy,” Miles said.
“Like I told my wife that night, at least I’m still alive. I don’t have any broken bones, no head trauma, no internal injuries, no organ damage.”
While he is still sore and in pain, this will not stop him from doing what he loves, he said. In fact, he plans on getting back on his bike as soon as his doctor clears him to do so.
Authorities have since made an arrest in the accident. They believe 51-year-old Robert Copeland Bishop was behind the wheel of the car involved in the accident. He now faces charges of failure to report an accident, hit-and-run, not leaving a safe distance while passing and aggravated assault.
This incident is still under investigation.