Thursday, November 23, 2017
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Longtime bicycle advocate Alan Snel hit by car in Fort Pierce

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Alan Snel, a longtime Florida bicycle advocate, is in a Fort Pierce intensive care unit after a motorist hit him from behind while he was riding his bike Tuesday.

A former reporter with the Tampa Tribune, Snel co-founded the Seminole Heights Bicycle Club. He quit the Tribune in 2006 to create SWFBUD (South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers), a bicycling advocacy group.

His most recent adventure has been helping a company that specializes in guided bicycle trips make its first foray into offering bicycle tours of Florida, a state that has consistently led the nation in bicycle deaths.

"I was cycling to Fort Pierce on Old Dixie in St. Lucie County this morning when a motorist hit me from behind," Snel posted on Facebook Tuesday afternoon, saying he had "back issues" but that he "can move extremities." He posted again Wednesday morning that he was being treated in the trauma ICU at Lawnwood Medical Center in Fort Pierce.

Deputy Bryan Beaty, spokesman for the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office, said investigators arrived at 8:08 a.m. and found Snel "unresponsive" but he was up walking and talking by the time ambulance arrived. Beaty said he did not yet have the investigators' report.

"At this point, no one has been charged or cited," Beaty said. "The investigation is ongoing and a full report will be available in 60 days."

Snel set up seven tours for Escape Adventures in what he called underappreciated gems around the state, such as the Withlacoochee Trail, about an hour north of Tampa, and the hills of Clermont. With record tourism, he and other bicycle advocates have urged local governments to take bicycle safety seriously and improve Florida's record.

Two years ago, a National Complete Streets Coalition report named Florida the most dangerous state for riding a bike.

The metropolitan areas are making baby steps, even earning kudos recently from Bicyling magazine for adding more bike lanes and trails in recent years.

Snel, known for his impish sense of humor, on Saturday posted an open letter to President Donald Trump on his blog Bicycle Stories inviting him for a ride to keep him off Twitter.

"Even your closest pals think you're overdoing it a bit with this Twitter thing," Snel wrote after the president accused President Barack Obama of wiretapping. "So, I have an idea. Let's go bicycling instead of you twittering when you come to Florida."

Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at swynne@tampabay.com. Follow @SharonKWn.

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