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Vol. 17 No. 28 - April 26, 2017

opinion

Pedaling safety

I have noticed a significant increase in bike traffic on the Island this summer. This doesn't surprise me because it is a wonderful mode of transportation. What does surprise me is the number of people who seem to be unaware of the rules that go along with choosing this mode of transportation. This became glaringly apparent to me the other day when I was standing outside the gallery that I work at on Pine Avenue. Two teenage boys were riding their bikes side by side in the middle of the street, and there were about four cars behind them. One car beeped its horn. In response, one of the boys shouted an expletive and said that they had the right of way. I thought to myself "Well, that can't be right." So I did some research.

What I found out initially as outlined by The Florida Bicycle Association (www.floridabicycle.org). "In Florida the bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle and the bicyclist is a driver. Bicyclists have the same rights to the roadways, and must obey the same traffic laws as the drivers of other vehicles. These laws include stopping for stop signs and red lights, riding with the flow of traffic, using lights at night, yielding the right-of-way when entering a roadway and yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks." So, although useful information it did not clearly answer if the boys "rights to the roadway" covered going significantly under the speed limit and slowing traffic. So, I continued my research and found exactly what I was looking for on Lizzie Lu's Island Retreat's website (www.amivacationrental.com).

• As a bicyclist, it is important to obey traffic signs and laws always.

• Using proper hand signals is important for your safety and those who you share the road with. Drivers may not see you due to low visibility with the sun light and possible blind spots so it's best to assume they don't see you.

• Ride with the flow of traffic on the right side of the road.

• Bicyclists must yield right of way to pedestrians when riding on crosswalks or sidewalks.

• Bicycles should be equipped with brakes that allow them to stop within 25 feet when going 10 mph on dry clean pavement.

• Using headphones may be a safety hazard and bicyclists should avoid using them while riding.

• You must ride with a regular fixed seat.

• If bicycling with children it is the parents or guardian's responsibility to ensure proper safety measures are taken including wearing a helmet if they are 16 or younger.

• It is best to ride with the amount of people intended for the build of the bicycle.

• It is required by law to provide your bicycle with the right safety equipment. Bicyclists must have a lamp on the front and a red reflector and a lamp on the back between sunrise and sunset. The rear lamp should be visible from 600 feet and the front lamp should be visible from 500 feet.

Looks like the boys were mistaken in their assumption. Not to mention the language that was used was completely unnecessary. I decided to share the information that I found in hopes that it would be helpful to bicyclists that are not following the rules. Maybe now they will realize that they exist, and are in place for a reason. Understanding and respecting that may also give them an opportunity to be a part of what keeps Anna Maria the beautiful laid back island that we all love.

 


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