Commuting cyclist gets black bear broadside

Florida rider knocked off his bike by 20 stone creature

by Mark Appleton   July 12, 2011  

Black bear pic courtesy H Barrison.jpg

Here in the UK, animal encounters on a road bike don’t usually get much beyond averting your gaze from some gorily squashed roadkill or dodging the odd suicidal cat.

Things are different elsewhere as an incident that took place last week in north west Florida amply testifies. The North West Florida Daily News reports that on Thursday morning John Hearn, an employee at Tyndall Air Force Base near the state's Panama City, was broadsided and knocked off his bike by a black bear that was making a dash across the highway on which he was commuting to work.

A witness to the incident, Debbie McLeod, told the Daily News: “At first I didn’t know what happened. The bear was flying across the road from the left side to the right. I thought he was going to miss the rider, but then I saw the florescent coloured vest fly up in the air, and knew the bear hit him.”

The 20 stone creature was, it seems, momentarily disorientated, but quickly picked itself up and made good its escape. Mr Hearn told the paper he would have done the same had the bear not beaten him to it.

“As soon as I got hit I knew it was a bear so when I hit the ground I was ready to run,” he said. “Then I looked and the bear was already running away.

“It was like getting tackled by a furry, toned, boney body in football. The bear packed a pretty good punch.”

With road rash on elbows, hip and back and a damaged bike, John was given a lift to work by a passing motorist. He told the paper that since he started riding nine years ago he has been involved in two other collisions, both with cars and both within the last four years since he moved to the Panama City area.

“This is by far the worst damage done to my body and my bike,” he said. “We must’ve been going almost the same speed. But sadly, the bear didn’t have insurance so I can’t do anything about it.

“After my last two accidents it took me awhile to get comfortable on my bike again. I’m sure it will be like that now too.”

Although cyclist-bear encounters are virtually unheard of in this part of the US, they are more common elsewhere in North America particularly in the Pacific north west, Canada and Alaska where off-road riders have suffered serious injury and even death when attacked.

Lt. Stan Kirkland of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission told the  Daily News that there are over 3,000 black bears roaming the state, so for John and his bike commuting rehabilitation it might be a case of don’t let the bear stats grind you down.
 

 

14 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Grin and bear it.

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
12th July 2011 - 9:50

2 Likes

Bears are terrible for not looking, you have to think it was on its mobile phone. Hope he got its license

posted by bazzargh [145 posts]
12th July 2011 - 10:00

1 Like

Check out the comments at the bottom of the article on that local newspaper web site. Amongst the many bear puns, there are a few motorists complaining about cyclists being inconsiderate, one saying "Get off the Highway" (which I assume is addressed at the cyclists unless the poster believes bears read web site), and chearing on the bear. I knew some drivers hated us cyclists, but I didn't think they would side with a completely different species!

posted by handlebarcam [533 posts]
12th July 2011 - 10:19

2 Likes

Laughing

It is funny the polarisation that cycling incidents provoke.

One comment saying "I've had many curse me out when I'm walking my pets along the side of the roadway"

What just for a laugh ?

There is a section of society that cannot link their actions to the reaction of others - So i imagine this is where cyclists haters fit.

Luckily we don't have bears here, we only have to deal with BMW's, Buses and white van men

Cervelo S1, Zipp 404, SRAM Rival/Force, Rotor crankset and Vittoria.

stuartpeck1's picture

posted by stuartpeck1 [98 posts]
12th July 2011 - 11:22

1 Like

stuartpeck1 wrote:

Luckily we don't have bears here, we only have to deal with BMW's, Buses and white van men

Give me bears over those morons any day. At least bears aren't malicious and vindictive.

cavasta's picture

posted by cavasta [214 posts]
12th July 2011 - 12:41

2 Likes

cavasta wrote:
Give me bears over those morons any day. At least bears aren't malicious and vindictive.

Only if you don't steal their honey.

posted by mttvrtn [36 posts]
12th July 2011 - 13:13

2 Likes

Got broadsided by a pheasant once.... Well, it was scary honest!

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1093 posts]
12th July 2011 - 18:18

1 Like

MercuryOne wrote:
Got broadsided by a pheasant once.... Well, it was scary honest!

Top quote! I've hit two pheasants. I swear one of them was trying to end it all by throwing himself under my wheels. I swerved three or four times to avoid him but he just wasn't having any of it and chucked himself into the chainset beak first. Dreadful way to go.

Got a bat in the face once too. Leathery.

I had a close call with an old badger once as well... but we've all had nights like that.

posted by Mat Brett [1958 posts]
12th July 2011 - 19:42

1 Like

I killed Bugs Bunny Surprise (or one of his cousins). It ran out of a hedge, straight in front of me - under the wheel it went - no chance to react. I was horrified!!!

cavasta's picture

posted by cavasta [214 posts]
12th July 2011 - 19:48

2 Likes

posted by Zee [74 posts]
12th July 2011 - 19:59

2 Likes

"don’t let the bear stats grind you down." Brilliant !

posted by ethelthe [2 posts]
12th July 2011 - 21:16

2 Likes

Strange...in the New Forest I encounter curmudgeonly and occasionally aggressive wildlife on an almost daily basis...who's not been intimidated by a maverick New Forest horse from time to time? It's fine when in the car and protected by crumple zones and a big steel cage, but when a lunatic horse chases you along a forest road at a gallop whilst you're two wheel bound, you have to find that extra bit of strength in your legs to effect a get away, especially when challenged by one of the numerous short hills the forest has to offer. Having said all of that, I'll be back on the forest back roads again tomorrow, and (almost) relishing the confrontations with the local wildlife Smile "Hey Horse, move on horse, let's go horse!" being one of my usual loud retorts. For the MTB/non road fraternity, the underpass at Picket Post (marker 8) is often full of NF ponies sheltering from the sun, and requires careful negotiation for safe passage...or an AK47 and/or a Landy 90! Happy to advise Smile

posted by batch [60 posts]
12th July 2011 - 22:48

1 Like

batch wrote:
Strange...in the New Forest I encounter curmudgeonly and occasionally aggressive wildlife on an almost daily basis...who's not been intimidated by a maverick New Forest horse from time to time? It's fine when in the car and protected by crumple zones and a big steel cage, but when a lunatic horse chases you along a forest road at a gallop whilst you're two wheel bound, you have to find that extra bit of strength in your legs to effect a get away, especially when challenged by one of the numerous short hills the forest has to offer. Having said all of that, I'll be back on the forest back roads again tomorrow, and (almost) relishing the confrontations with the local wildlife Smile "Hey Horse, move on horse, let's go horse!" being one of my usual loud retorts. For the MTB/non road fraternity, the underpass at Picket Post (marker 8) is often full of NF ponies sheltering from the sun, and requires careful negotiation for safe passage...or an AK47 and/or a Landy 90! Happy to advise Smile

Two wheels good, four legs bad Wink

cavasta's picture

posted by cavasta [214 posts]
13th July 2011 - 8:24

2 Likes

Better be careful the horse doesn't stop, turn round and punch you in the face. A hoof in the jaw can't be good. Wink

Cervelo S1, Zipp 404, SRAM Rival/Force, Rotor crankset and Vittoria.

stuartpeck1's picture

posted by stuartpeck1 [98 posts]
13th July 2011 - 23:50

2 Likes