More than 2,000 cyclists gathered to make a statement and pay tribute to Christopher Lecanne, who was killed in an accident on the Rickenbacker Causeway.
BY RODOLFO ROMAN
The Miami Herald
With a back brace and holding on to a cane for support, Miami resident Eduardo Lopez stood next to a makeshift memorial dedicated to Christopher Lecanne, the cyclist killed by an alleged drunken driver on the Rickenbacker Causeway.
“We felt this,” said an emotional Lopez.
Lopez, a former member of the Cuban national cycling team, was himself hit by a car and suffered numerous fractures eight months ago near where Lecanne was killed last week.
Lopez is not able yet to ride a bicycle. But is waiting to go to rehab in hopes of getting back to the sport he loves.
Lopez was moved when he heard last week of Lecanne’s fatal tragic accident.
“We cyclist are all a big family,” he said in Spanish.
On Sunday, an emotional Lopez grieved alongside more than 2,000 cyclists on the Rickenbacker Causeway’s Bear Cut Bridge as they remembered Lecanne. They dedicated a ride in his name.
Lecanne, who is survived by his wife and two children, will be buried in his native France, said a co-worker who asked not be identified.
Wearing white T-shirts inscribed with one of Lecanne’s favorite sayings — “The journey is the thing” — family, friends and co-workers cried and placed flowers on the memorial, which included a bike spray-painted in white that was placed on a fence.
His family touched a street memorial sign placed on a barricade that read, “Drive safely in memory of Christophe Lecanne.”
Lopez said the popular cyclist area is dangerous.
“The cars drive too fast here,” said Lopez, who doesn’t remember what happened after the car smashed into him.
The ride was organized by bicyclist groups to call attention to what organizers say is a need for improved safety measures for cyclists along the popular Rickenbacker and Crandon Boulevard routes in Key Biscayne.
Cyclists took off from Mast Academy and rode through Key Biscayne and on to Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.
For about an hour, police closed off a lane on the Bear Cut Bridge and transformed another into two lanes.
On their journey, bikers flooded the Bear Cut Bridge site as they paid respect to Lecanne with a moment of silence.
Witnesses said it took more than 15 minutes for fire-rescue to arrive after Lecanne was struck, a delay blamed in part on the reduction in operating hours of a nearby Miami-Dade firehouse. Emergency operators also apparently failed to call closer Key Biscayne and Miami fire stations.
Driver Carlos Bertonatti of Key Biscayne has been charged with multiple felonies, including DUI manslaughter.
Bertonatti, a U.S. resident born in Venezuela, was released from jail on bail.
Sitting on his black and red Ridley bicycle, Z-motion bicycle team member Jorge Alonso was riding the day Lecanne was killed.
“It felt like we lost a brother,” he said.
Coconut Creek resident and member of the Broward Barracudas Nicole Swift drove to Key Biscayne for the memorial. About 30 cyclists from her team pedaled from Davie in honor of Lacanne.
“This is to make a statement to remind people to share the road,” she said.
Some of the participants asked for safety measures to be added such as a concrete barrier that would shield cyclists from vehicles.
Designating the right-hand lane for use by pedestrians and cyclists in the early mornings and weekend hours, when vehicular traffic is light, was another suggestion.
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