Sunday, March 8, 2015

Paths of peril: Ronnie Taylor

News-Press Sunday 3/8/15 Bike Safety Feature: Paths of peril

Janine Zeitlin, Melanie Payne and Laura Ruane,,

Each Southwest Florida bike death is a different, heartbreaking story...this is Ronnie Taylor's story.

Ronnie Alan Taylor, 57

Crash date: April 7, 2014

Ronnie Taylor was picking up the pieces of his life. He was living in a Fort Myers homeless shelter and had worked his way to some independence: a set of wheels.

The 57-year-old was receiving help from the Salvation Army and Community Cooperative, social services organizations in Lee County. He had done volunteer work at Community Cooperative in exchange for a fixed-up, used bike from a church's bicycle ministry. He was respectful, on time for appointments and was trying to improve his life, said Kaitlin Major, a Community Cooperative social worker.

He had worked as a handyman and janitor in the past and hoped to secure a steady job.

Bikes are the primary mode of transportation for 75 percent or more of the people Major counsels. Many of those riders are among the most vulnerable and under-equipped for the roads, though safety advocates and law enforcement pass out lights and other gear and offer education.

On April 7, a Monday around 2 p.m., a white SUV turning left from Halgrim Avenue onto Cleveland Avenue in Fort Myers struck Taylor while he was crossing Cleveland on his bicycle. Taylor died several days later in the hospital. The driver, Magdalena Zayas, was not cited; police said Taylor was at fault.

Related: Collier, Lee leaders seek solutions for cyclist safety

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