A Special Reminder To Drivers Everywhere
Over 40 million Americans ride bicycles. They, and millions more,
would like to be able to bicycle on public roads without fear. Many
are afraid to because drivers sometimes squeeze past. Though
drivers rarely intend any harm, this frightening and illegal behavior
has scared many bicyclists and occasionally causes collisions. Please
remember: the laws in every state require that "Drivers shall
pass at a safe distance."
(FL 316.083 (1))
When there isnít enough space for safe passing within the lane,
bicyclists should be given use of the whole lane.
When bicyclists squeeze over to the right, they endanger
themselves. They end up being squeezed between hazards, rubbing
against gutter lips or sliding on sand or debris, or colliding with
opening doors of parked cars. That is why, bike lane or not, in most
states the rule for bicyclists is ride to the right *EXCEPT*
when passing or turning left; or to avoid objects, parked cars,
moving vehicles, pedestrians, animals, surface or other hazards; or when
in a vehicle lane too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to
pass safely side by side within the lane.
(FL 316.2065 (5a))
Safe bicyclists will politely *merge* left and ride nearer
the center of a vehicle lane, instead of squeezing next to hazards
-- just as any safe driver would do. Some may think this unsafe; but
please note that there is only one general rule for safe bicycling,
and it instructs that safe bicyclists behave as operators of vehicles:
"Every person riding a bicycle shall have all of the
rights, and all of the duties, applicable to other drivers..."
(FL 316.2065 (1))
So please - donít squeeze. Keep a safe distance - at least three
feet - when passing a bicyclist. If you canít pass safely, please
Bicyclists, in turn, need to know that they can easily make
themselves safe and respected on nearly every road. Millions of
bicyclists manage to ride in traffic every day, year after year,
without collision or trouble. Many of these are Cooperative
Cyclists. They have learned to follow all the rules of the road
to cooperate with other drivers: to signal, merge, yield, change
lanes and use lights at night. They are rarely squeezed past, and
studies show that they are much safer than other cyclists.
(Please see www.bikeleague.org
and study the Bicycle Drivers Manual at www.bicyclinglife.com)
Sometimes police, and prosecutors, donít uphold the rights of
bicyclists and pedestrians to safe passage. Cyclists may be perceived
as traffic scofflaws. But, like motorists, cyclists are individuals -
responsible for their own traffic behavior, not that of others. So
please: enforce our common-sense traffic laws, fairly and equally for
all. Those who squeeze too close to bicyclists, drive without
lights at night, travel the wrong way on the roadway, travel too fast
for conditions or run red lights endanger others or themselves.
Please remember that public roads were not built just for cars:
before the car, roads in the USA were already being paved for
bicyclists. Every bicyclist has a right to use public roads, and to
enjoy the protection of the law on them.
Please note that every State Driversí Manual recommends that safe
practice for motorists is:
"Adjust your speed for blind hills, curves,
pedestrians, bicyclists, and slow-moving vehicles.
These conditions make the posted speed limit unsafe.
By law, you must drive slower.
It is your responsibility to adjust your driving
to assure everyoneís safety."
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Information provided by
Lauren Cooper and (Ret.) Chief J. W. Rittenhouse
of The Equal Rights for Cyclists Campaign,
approved and edited by
The State Safety Office of the
Florida Department of Transportation