Police try to put brakes on speedy sandwich deliverers

A Jimmy John's delivery man turns from the left-hand turn lane onto Northwest 18th Street on Wednesday in Gainesville.

Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 4:43 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 4:43 p.m.

"Freaky fast" is Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches' slogan, but local authorities are concerned that the fast-food restaurants' deliveries are a bit too quick for safety.

Cyclists from Jimmy John's at 1724 W University Ave. have been issued several traffic citations recently, mostly for weaving in and out of traffic and crossing roads against a red light or stop sign, according to Gainesville Police spokesman Officer Ben Tobias.

There is another Jimmy John's outlet on Southwest Archer Road, but only the West University Avenue site delivers using bicyclists.

"We get constant complaints from neighboring businesses," Tobias said. "GPD spoke with Jimmy John's management, and they asked that we identify the drivers who were getting the citations."

Law enforcement agencies do not know the total number of citations given out because on the traffic report, the occupation of the driver is not given. However, GPD has stopped more cyclists than usual, Tobias said.

Tobias highlighted two occasions in which the cyclists were acting recklessly: In one day, a Jimmy John's cyclist received two citations on separate occasions for weaving in and out of traffic. Another day, about four to six different Jimmy John's cyclists were given citations for different infractions.

Citations ranged from $52.50 for minor infractions to $252 for not stopping at a red light.

The restaurant staggers its employees' shifts, and the first person who clocks in gets his or her name at the top of the delivery list, said Kyle Endd, an employee at Jimmy John's.

Although there is no exact time that deliveries have to be made, there are "good" and "bad" time limits for each delivery, Endd said.

A representative from the fast-food chain said the company had no comment on the number of citations its employees receive.

The University of Florida Police Department also has received complaints from people around campus about Jimmy John's cyclists operating in an unsafe manner, said public information officer Maj. Brad Barber.

Capt. Jeff Holcomb spoke with managers at Jimmy John's and requested that bikers pay more attention. When the department was still receiving complaints, it had cyclists come in for a meeting on bicycle safety, Barber said.

"Our department's policy is that we try to issue warnings and focus on education first," he said.

Ryan Jones' first run-in with a Jimmy John's cyclist was last summer when he almost hit a cyclist as he was pulling out of a parallel parking spot. The UF senior photojournalism major was trying to get onto University Avenue when a cyclist jumped off the curb behind his car, Jones said.

"I almost hit him," he said. "It made me more aware of other Jimmy John's cyclists around me."

When Jones was walking from work recently, he saw a Jimmy John's cyclist who didn't stop at a stop sign and was almost hit by a car. The car driver was "freaked out and seemed to be talking to himself after," Jones said.

"At the end of the day, I don't think biking recklessly is worth any kind of sandwich," he said.

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