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Hi, My Name is Jason

Jason Lazarus injuredMy name is Jason Lazarus and I have been both a competitive and avid cyclist for 33 years.

I am a lawyer and the CEO of a company I founded with several partners. In addition, I am the father of three children. My oldest, Sarah, is a junior at UF studying nursing. My middle, Kyle, is a freshman at FSU studying business. My youngest, Camille, is a freshman in high school.

I am a son. I am a friend to many. In addition to cycling, I am a fitness freak and enjoy doing exercise classes at the local Y and yoga. In the winter, I try to snow ski 2-3 times out west. I love to travel to new places. I also really enjoy helping other people which is what I do day in and day out at work. In my professional capacity, I see a lot of catastrophic injuries from accidents.

I never dreamed I would suffer that type of injury myself. But I did in August of this year while cycling in Winter Park.

Jason the lawyerI started cycling at age 13 to rehab from a speed skating injury. I was immediately hooked and began racing shortly thereafter. I raced as a junior all over the U.S. and spent a summer racing in Europe with a group of American cyclists. I qualified for the U.S. National Championships in 1996 and finished in the top 50 after flatting. When I graduated from high school in 1987, I stopped racing competitively and pursued by undergraduate education. I kept cycling for fitness though. I then went on to law school but all the while kept cycling recreationally.

Jason at Chain Of Lakes FinishIn 2014, after a 27 year layoff, I began racing again in masters. In my very first race as a master, I won the combined masters cat 4/5 and cat 5 road race. I was hooked again. I started structured training and continued to compete moving up to a category 3 racer this past year. During the off-season this past summer I was doing a lot of non-structured training in the form of group rides. My favorite ride was the Tuesday/Thursday B3 rides. In August, I was in the best shape of my life. The unthinkable for me was about to happen and flip my world upside down.

I love cycling because of the feeling of freedom of being on the bike and the opportunity to push past physical barriers that you may have thought impossible to surpass. I also enjoy the friendly competition on group rides and the comradery of the cycling community. One of my favorite times on the bike is when I go out early morning during the week before dawn and ride as the sun comes up. It is a great feeling to see the road rush by underneath your wheels and only hear the wind go by your ears. So in early August of 2016, I would typically ride solo for a little while before meeting up with the B3 group. That leads me to August 2nd of 2016.

The B3 ride is Tuesday and Thursday mornings at Bikes, Beans and Bourdeaux, on Corrine Drive in Winter Park.  They meet at 6:10, ride to Eagle Circle and back, and have breakfast afterwards.

The B3 ride is Tuesday and Thursday mornings at Bikes, Beans and Bourdeaux, on Corrine Drive in Winter Park. They meet at 6:10, ride to Eagle Circle and back, and have breakfast afterwards.


On 8/2/16 I got up at 5 am to get ready to ride with my friends on the B3 group ride. It was like every other day I do this before work. When I first get out on the bike as the sun is rising I feel this sense that I can’t explain but I love it. That morning, I felt strong and fast since I was in the best shape of my life. I turned out of Baldwin Park in Orlando onto Lakemont Avenue in Winter Park as I always did. I was lawfully riding north in the bike lane on Lakemont and had the right of way.

As I got to a little plaza where Bagel King is, something happened. I was hit by a pick-up truck out of nowhere. I have flashes of the impact in my brain and yelling “noooooooo”. The driver had made a left turn into the parking lot right in front of me as I was traveling at about 19 mph.

According to the eye witness to the accident, I hit the right front quarter panel and door sending me straight up into the air. He said that when he got to me I was unconscious and my air way was clogged. Thankfully he was a combat medic in the U.S. military and was able to clear my airway.

Jason's blood stainSoon after the impact, the B3 group who had been behind me came upon the accident scene. Thankfully several members of the group are medical professionals who helped until the ambulance arrived. The ambulance took me to ORMC which is a level one trauma center. My first memories after the accident were waking up in the emergency room. When I woke up, I knew that I was pretty banged up but had no idea how bad it really was or what I was in for. When I was hit, my face impacted the car. I suffered a myriad of injuries including:

  • Le Fort III Skull Fracture – basically breaking all of the bones in your face
  • Broken nose
  • Broken jaw in several places
  • Fractured eye orbits
  • Zygomatic arch fracture
  • Fractures of the bone where my top front teeth attached and traumatic loss of 5 front top teeth
  • Displaced fracture of right collarbone
  • Deep laceration to my lower lip, chin and gums
  • Concussion

On the evening of the accident, I underwent surgery to fix the injuries to my face. As a result, I have plates and screws in my chin from the jaw fracture. My jaw was wired shut during the operation. I was put on a ventilator due to swelling in my upper airway and a feeding tube was inserted into my mouth. The next day, I underwent surgery for my broken collarbone which required plates and screws. Thankfully during all of this I was kept sedated. They kept me sedated from Tuesday of my injury until Saturday of that week.

When I was taken off sedation, I was in excruciating pain from the vent which was going into my mouth and putting pressure on my severely broken jaw. A few days later I had a tracheostomy which I requested and which eased the pain in my jaw.

I spent a total of 20 days in the hospital. 9 of the 20 days were in the ICU.

I can’t even begin to explain the pain and fear I felt post-accident. My jaw was wired shut so I couldn’t talk and I had tubes down my throat to help me breath as well as provide nutrition. It took about a week or so before the staff at ORMC got me out of bed.

As soon as I was mobile, I began to walk multiple times a day in hopes of keeping some semblance of fitness. At first it was tough to walk even one lap of the ICU but very quickly I began to feel much better. Once I was finally released from the hospital, I continued to walk outside for about a week but then began to cycle again on a stationary trainer. Getting back on the bike was difficult since my jaw remained wired shut which made breathing abnormal. Also, my nutrition was limited since I was on a liquid diet.

After 8 weeks, my jaw wires were removed and I got back to cycling on the road. The first morning I went out to meet the B3 group was nerve wracking. I met the group at the scene of my accident in hopes that flooding (psychological therapy) would help. It was a bit surreal being out in the dark waiting in that parking lot right by where I had been hit. Once the group arrived and I started to ride with them, it all felt right again. That isn’t to say I am not worried and don’t think about being hit every day. I do. I have flashbacks. Nightmares. Pain. I am going to require years of dental work to fix the damage that was done my jaw and mouth.

jason-ross-unknownSo the impact has been great. For one, I scared the hell out of my family. They thought they might lose me as I looked pretty bad when I was in the ER. I hate that they had to feel that pain and see me that way. I speak for a living so having my jaw wired shut was very problematic. Also, due to the traumatic loss of teeth my speech isn’t back to normal yet. I can only chew food on one side of my mouth. My diet is limited and it has impacted my ability to travel for work. I constantly am going to different doctors which has caused me to lose time in the office. I will require future cosmetic surgery and dental surgery. I have incurred a lot of expenses that were not covered by insurance as a result of the accident. My medical bills to date are approaching half a million dollars. The driver that hit me only had a $10,000 liability policy. Thankfully I had a lot of UM coverage which was “stacked”.

One piece of advice for cyclist, make sure your UM policies are stacked as that will give you the most coverage if something like this happens to you. Also, you can typically buy extra UM coverage with an umbrella policy (something I wish I had known prior to my accident).

Climbing the iconic Mont Ventoux on the Tour de France course

Climbing the iconic Mont Ventoux on the Tour de France course

All of that being said, I am so lucky. I could have had a permanent brain or spinal cord injury. I see that day in and day out with what I do for a living. So it could always be worse. But, for those who drive the roads in Florida, think about those things before driving aggressively around cyclists on the roads. I know most will read this and move on. So be it. I can’t let this die. I don’t want one of my friends to experience this or worse.

I hope that my story continues to raise awareness for vulnerable pedestrians that are on central Florida roads. I plan to help to lobby for the laws to be changed. The driver who hit me didn’t receive even a ticket. Had he violated a car’s right of way, at least he would have been ticketed. Florida law needs to protect pedestrians who are incredibly vulnerable. Drivers don’t realize that even a minor impact can cause both great bodily harm as well as property damage. A car, when it passes close, is like a freight train passing you by. Drivers are encased in metal with little fear beyond a collision with another car. Cyclist and other pedestrians have no protection at all when a collision occurs. The end result when a car versus pedestrian accident happens isn’t pretty as evidenced by my story. The law has to do more to protect us. Being a lawyer and having experienced what I have, I hope to have some good come out of all of this. If I save even one person from the horrors I have experienced, it will be well worth it.

alps-backdropThankfully I am back to riding and enjoying the friendships of so many that I have cycled with over the years. Every time I go out, I think about the 3 weeks I spent in the hospital wishing I was with my friends out on the roads. I am happy I was able, with counseling, to get back out on the roads. I can’t imagine someone’s careless actions taking away the sport I have loved for so long. Being fit and the cycling culture is a way of life that I can’t even comprehend losing. I have been to, seen so many great places and met amazing people because of cycling. The vast network of people I have come across due to the sport is truly awesome.

Lastly, I want to thank everyone that spent time with me in the hospital and have helped me (including those the day of the accident). My cycling teammates were awesome with support. The friends I ride with were great and encourgaing. I also want to thank David Guttenplan who suffered nearly the same injuries as I did six months before me. He was wonderful and supportive throughout and helped me know what to expect as I progressed with recovery. I also have to thank Ty Turbyfill who is an amazing dental implant surgeon and doctor who also happens to be an avid cyclist. He has helped with my treatment plan and advocated for me when I was in the hospital. My debt to him can’t even be measured. A great example of a friendship that the bond of cycling forges.

tour-de-france-climbThis could happen to any one of us on any given ride. Be safe. Be alert. Use lights. I hope no one reading this ever experiences the pain of what I have been thru.

Please use these hashtags when sharing on social media.
#trafficlivesmatter #cyclinglivesmatter #iamtraffic

Hi, My Name is David

bed-injuries-selfieHi, my name is David Guttenplan and I am a 30 year old Professional Cyclist, Elite Cycling Team Owner, and Cycling Coach. I drive a VW Jetta. I have a masters in Civil Engineering from the University of Florida. Besides racing I love to Snowboard, Fish, do water sports, and travel! My girlfriend and I have 2 cats one of which thinks he is a dog.

People who are important to you/who you are important to
kits-kissMy girlfriend, parents, extended family, my girlfriends family, the cycling team I run, my coaching clients, my huge extended cycling family and friends whom when I was hit shared 3000 times and raised $23,000 via a crowdfunding page. I feel blessed and thankful for that every single day.

Why do you ride
It keeps me smiling, happy, healthy, its my job, my passion, it helps me focus, think, and live a happy complete life!

What do you love about cycling
dock-teammateIt is a huge network of friends on bikes. I get to meet people I may never have otherwise in all walks of life where all are equal and all are united by the passion and joy one gets when they are free to pedal outside, exercise, and enjoy all that the world has to offer. All of this at a slightly slower pace than in a car, but still fast enough to see lots of amazing sites and places around the world! There is no better way.

What are some possible repercussions of being hit by a car that could affect your life, or for those unlucky enough to have dealt with it
laptop-training-maskI was in an induced coma for a week, undergoing days of surgery after ripping my nose 95% off, puncturing a lung, breaking my orbital bones around my eye, my jaw being wired shut for 7 weeks, my scapula, my ribs, a tracheotomy in my throat to breath and eat, my tear duct was destroyed causing me to have to have a tube installed and later removed surgically and by a miracle able to recover and get back to racing. However, my face is still not back to its best with more plastic surgery to go, but I’m a walking, breathing, miracle and happy to be alive. It has been a long process. I lost an entire season at the peak of my bike racing career that I may never get back. I’m just now getting back to racing and its still possible I may never be able to race at the level I once was. I’m hoping, training and pushing to get myself there again, but the psychological wounds are massive. Every day, I’m terrified to go on the roads and worried I’ll be hit again, but I push through knowing I’m using my journey as inspiration that you can bounce back from hard times to do what you love, follow your dreams, and live your passion. Never mind my career and 15 years of pushing the limit to get to the peak level of fitness that I was at this year prior to the accident, at the start of the season sacrificing everything to get here, the real repercussion is for those that love me now having to worry even more and having had to worry and stop everything in their lives to take care of me which I will forever be grateful.

Knowing the risk why do you continue riding
It’s what I love. It’s what completes me. It keeps me healthy and happy. It’s my social life. I have met so many friends. I can’t even comprehend not riding. I’d rather risk than risk not to be able to ride again. However, it is tough because I want to be a father and I don’t want my children to have to worry about me either. My dear friend Danny Chew, a multi time Race Across America winner was just paralyzed from a crazy accident and it makes me think: I can’t imagine if I wouldn’t be able to ride ever again and even worse I can’t imagine if because of the risk I wasn’t able to walk again either, so please drive carefully and respect my life.

Some thing you want motorists to know.
david-sling-girlfriend I’m a real person, not just a cone you need to get around. Imagine riding a bike at 20-35mph inside of the yellow line less than 3 feet from an oncoming subway, except imagine that subway is a car being driven by a distracted driver who doesn’t even realize he’s passing you. Maybe didn’t even realize he passed you. Just standing inside of 3 feet from a passing train is downright terrifying. Give me space when you pass and for the love of god slow down, especially if you have a trailer that sticks out further to the right that I have no way of knowing is there! This is why I hate riding all the way to the right of the road. It makes it easy for someone to pass me with oncoming traffic because they think its okay and then they may get a little spooked by the oncoming car, who was also potentially distracted and then swerve into me. I’d rather they wait until its clear and then pass me. Yes, it is going to slow down traffic a little and I do feel really, really, really bad about that. This is why I always try to get out of the way and wave as many motorists around me when its safe for them to pass. However, I know if my mom or son were out on the road, I’d be happy to wait a few extra seconds to insure that I don’t murder them by “accident”. Every single time you get behind a wheel you are placing your fingers on an automatic machine gun that can kill multiple cyclists or pedestrians in an instant. That’s what happened in Athens, GA, week where 3 cyclists were hit and Ashley, a bright, 25 year old, UGA masters student was killed and my old team director and bike shop owner was hospitalized. Be careful driving your machine gun. Distracted driving kills really good people, I promise you don’t want that on your conscience. Please, let me get home safely.

#HiMyNameIS #Clearwater #Florida #Floridadepartmentoftransportation #floridamotorvehicles #statute316 #floridabicyclelaw #cyclinglivesmatter #trafficlivesmatter

Hello: My Name is Mighk

mighk4

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mighk1Hi, my name is Mighk Wilson and I am 56. I have a beautiful wife Carol and a 9-month-old Lab/Whippet mix named Marely. I went to school at Ringling School of Art & Design (1982) and Rollins College (2008). I am a Bicycle and Pedestrian Planner for MetroPlan Orlando, and in my spare time executive director of the American Bicycling Education Association. My wife and I share a 2002 Subaru Outback with 75,000 miles on it. (So you can see we don’t drive it much.) We consider it to be our most expensive cycling accessory. When I am not cycling I like to garden.

mighk3I ride because it’s a habit I don’t want to break. The thing I love about Cycling is that it’s fast enough to see the forest, but slow enough to see the trees. When asked about the repercussions of being hit by a car that could affect my life: Since cycling is such a safe activity I don’t dwell on that aspect much. And no, I’m not being facetious or sarcastic. Cycling is quite safe. But our culture insists on first, telling everyone it’s dangerous, and then second, telling people to ride in ways that both make it feel dangerous (riding on the edge of the road) and actually increase the risk (“Get on the sidewalk!” “Get on that white line!”). Also when asked Knowing the risk why you continue riding: Knowing what I know is why I worked with Keri Caffrey to develop the Cycling Savvy course and helped start American Bicycling Education Association.

Teaching people to ride properly is more about breaking bad habits and busting harmful myths than about things like “awareness” or admonishing people to “be careful.” All around me every day I see people cycling who are doing things that increase their risk, and I’m sure most of them think they are “being careful.”

mighk2Cycling safely does not depend on being fast or “aggressive;” it’s a result of understanding how crashes really happen and learning some smart strategies to get motorists to do what you want them to do.

Some thing I want motorists to know is when you see me in the center of the lane in front of you, understand I am driving my vehicle in the safest possible manner. Cycling this way I avoid all the most common hazards (like potholes and other surface hazards) and motorist mistakes. I’ve been analyzing official crash reports for 20 years, and I’ve found that far more motorist-at-fault crashes happen to bicyclists on sidewalks and bike lanes than to cyclists in regular travel lanes.

Oh, and I’ll be out of your way — or you’ll be able to pass me — in no more than half a minute, so relax.

#himynameis #orlando #florida #floridadepartmentoftranspertaion #floridaofmotorvehcles #carofchoice #stature316 #floridabicyclelaw #3ft #fox35 #channel9 #orlandosentinel #orlandoweekly #health #fitness #trafficlivesmatter #cyclinglivesmatter