MIAMI – Anthony Napoliello believes there is a war in Miami between drivers and cyclists. The four-wheeled are hostile to the two-wheeled. It's a fight to the death.
Car dependency is a way of life in Miami. In some areas, a lack of bike infrastructure makes cyclists feel like they are swimming with sharks. But not in Virginia Key, where the sea breeze and endless shades of Biscayne Bay blue and palm trees attract those who love the outdoors.
There are designated bike paths on the Rickenbacker Causeway. Signs with sensors warn each driver about their speed. Joggers have paths away from the road. But none of the preventive measures stopped a driver from striking Napoliello while he was riding his bicycle in the designated area.
"I'm looking up and I see this car turning straight into me," Napoliello said. "And I knew I was going to go down."
Napoliello suffered a broken hip, a serious knee injury and broken fingers. He credits his choice of helmet for saving his life. There have been plenty of appalling tragedies besetting cyclists on Virginia Key. He feels lucky to have survived and wants to help raise awareness to help save lives.
"You know it's going to be a long battle," Napoliello said about his recovery.
Napoliello said he remembers the driver's panic. She wasn't grieving sarcastically, and she wasn't irritated. She was genuinely apologetic. He said he empathized with her, after she showed signs of tortured regret. But he wants drivers to remember that not paying attention can end up causing another tragedy.
Napoliello doesn't want what happened to him to become another run-of-the-mill bike vs. car incident on Miami's roads. He wants authorities and the public to recognize the simmering tension of the cyclist-driver relationship and find ways to change it.