Miami's cycling community are planning a Saturday morning group ride to honor 36-year-old Aaron Cohen, who died Thursday after being struck in a Wednesday morning hit-and-run on the Rickenbacker Causeway.
'Ride For Safety' participants will meet at the Bayfront Park Fountain on Biscayne Boulevard and Flagler Street at 8:30 a.m. before pedaling to Key Biscayne and up the William Powell Bridge, were Cohen and his friend Enda Walsh were struck Wednesday morning. Police will close the south side of the causeway to vehicular traffic between 9 and 10 a.m.
"He was the kind of son every father dreams about," Cohen's father Stephen told WSVN. Hundreds of Cohen's friends from a jogging group ran to the top of the bridge Thursday night, where they dropped roses into Biscayne Bay, and already more than 300 others have RSVP'd to 'Ride For Safety'.
"I rode over the bridge ten minutes behind Aaron that morning. Could have been me," posted John Bricker on the event's Facebook page. "I hope cyclists can come together behind this to push for better bike lanes, streetcams and dedication of outside lanes to cyclists during non rush-hours."
Cohen and Walsh were riding on the Rickenbacker just before 6 a.m. Wednesday when struck by car. "We didn't even see anything," Walsh, who suffered a leg injury, told CBSMiami. "Then there was a loud bang and the next thing you know, I was on the ground and Aaron was 30 feet up the road lying on his back on the road, not moving."
Despite undergoing surgery at Ryder Trauma Center, the 36-year-old married father of two died just hours after Michele Traverso, 25, turned himself in to police Thursday following their discover of his damaged Honda Civic parked in the garage of his condo building. Traverso faces charges of leaving the scene of an accident, causing serious bodily injury, and driving with a suspended license. Police say additional charges are pending.
Cohen's death is not the first among cyclists who enjoy the popular Rickenbacker Causeway. Just over two years ago, Christophe LeCanne was killed when struck by aspiring Argentine musician Carlos Bertonatti, who led police on a brief chase with LeCanne's bicycle under his bumper. Countless others have been injured, and frustration mounts that few, if any, of the safety measures cyclists have asked of Miami-Dade County have been implemented.
"How many more lives must we lose on the Rickebacker Causeway before the County Public Works Department does something to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians?" asked author Felipe Azenha on the blog Transit Miami, while reposting an article from two years ago with safety recommendations he says have been ignored since LeCanne was killed. "This is not rocket science. An unprotected bike lane adjacent to a highway with cars speeding in excess of 65mph is simply NOT a good idea."