In December 1996, the driver of a pickup truck crashed into a group of cyclists on a bike trip from Gainesville to St. Augustine. Two cyclists were killed — safe cycling advocates Margaret Raynal and Doug Hill — and four others injured.
Cycling activists say the tragic crash was a seminal event for bicycle advocacy in Florida.
First, the Florida Bicycle Association was reformed as a strong voice for cyclists’ rights.
Next, the state created a “Share the Road” license plate program, which has raised millions of dollars for bicycle safety and education programs.
A public art project to memorialize those fallen cyclists — comprising six sculptures containing bicycle parts from the crash and a kiosk — was erected at the Gainesville Depot Avenue rail-trail.
Over time, however, the kiosk has been dismantled and those monuments have fallen into disrepair and are now obscured behind landscaping at the renovated train station. The rail-trail has even been relocated.
“In short, the memory of what happened to those six cyclists, and what occurred as a result of their tragedy, has become obscured and threatens to be lost for good.”
So say organizers of Bike Florida, a multi-day mass bicycle tour in Florida.
Those tour organizers have dedicated this year’s 20th anniversary ride to those fallen cyclists. This year’s March 22-28 Spring Tour ends in St. Augustine, the city those six cyclists never reached.
To help fund the restoration of the site, Bike Florida is seeking to raise $5,000 in a raffle.
Participants can enter the Bike Florida raffle for $10 per ticket for a chance to win either a 7-day tour registration (March 22-28), a two-day tour registration (March 22 and 23), or a one-day bike ride at the Daytona International Speedway (March 25). The drawing is in six days (Feb. 19.)
Bike Florida also intends to use the tour’s final evening party at St. Augustine’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park as a kickoff event to raise funds to restore the fallen cyclists’ memorial. That final evening party is open to everyone, whether or not they rode Bike Florida.
Details on the Bike Florida Evening Party are here.