- Be visible.
- After dark and in low-light conditions wear reflective clothing or at least white and consider carrying a flashlight.
- Be aware of visual barriers that may make it difficult for a motorist to see you or visa-versa (our lush landscaping makes this a common occurrence).
- Be aware.
- Be prepared for the unexpected from motorists, bicyclists, and other pedestrians.
- Don’t put yourself at risk by wearing headphones or being distracted by electronic devices.
- Be predictable.
- Don’t make unexpected moves that motorists, cyclists, or other pedestrians can’t anticipate.
- Follow traffic laws, but don’t count on motorists to do the same.
- Be courteous.
- Stay to one side of the pathway so as to share the space with other users.
- If running, give priority to walking pedestrians.
- Alert those you are coming up upon of your intention to pass, especially if you’re running.
- Be friendly and greet those you encounter.
- Exercise your rights to use the public right-of-way but keep in mind that motorists, cyclists, and other pedestrians may not acknowledge or understand those rights.
- Be smart.
- Use sidewalks when they are available (it’s the law to do so); on sidewalks it’s a good idea to walk or run in the direction of traffic if possible in order to reduce conflicts with motorists making right turns from side streets and driveways.
- Walk or run against traffic when sidewalks are not available so you can easily see approaching vehicles and take evasive action when necessary.
- Be aware of various surface and weather conditions and be prepared to deal with them.
- Carry a phone, identification, a friend or relative’s contact information, and relevant medical information (locked phones do emergency personnel no good in terms of identifying you).
- Make sure your friends or relatives know your usual walking or running routes (leave the routes written down somewhere or inform someone of your route).
- Stay in familiar areas; know the location of safe places to go in an emergency.
- When alone, avoid unpopulated areas, deserted streets, and overgrown trails; especially avoid unlit areas at night.
- Don’t wear jewelry that can make you a target for being robbed.
- Ignore verbal harassment but be observant and keep moving.
- Use your intuition about suspicious persons and areas.
- Call the police immediately if something happens to you; don’t wait until you’re home.
- Report broken sidewalks and other hazards and obstacles, including illegally parked vehicles.
- Carry a whistle or other noisemaker; pepper spray may be appropriate when dog encounters are possible.
- Be visible.
- Lights are required by Florida law when operating between sunset and sunrise whether on the road, sidepath, or even private property with public access (white light in front, red light and reflector in rear).
- Wear brightly colored clothing during the day and reflective or white clothing after dark.
- Be aware.
- Be prepared for the unexpected from motorists, pedestrians and other cyclists.
- Headphones are not allowed per Florida law.
- Be predictable.
- Don’t make unexpected moves that motorists, cyclists, or other pedestrians won’t anticipate.
- Cyclists operating in the roadway are considered legal vehicles so most traffic laws apply; minimum speed laws do not apply and cyclists may ride far enough into the lane to ensure their safety (motorists may pass in a no-passing zone when safe to do so).
- Ride with the flow of traffic on the road and stay to the right on pathways.
- Be courteous.
- Cyclists are second-class users of pathways; pedestrians must be given the right-of-way and warned when passing (if they don’t acknowledge/respond the responsibility still rests with the cyclist).
- Be nice and offer a friendly greeting to those you encounter.
- Be smart.
- Exercise your rights to use the public right-of-way but keep in mind that motorists may not understand or respect those rights.
- While it’s legal in much of our area to cycle on sidewalks (pathways less than 8-feet wide) they are intended for pedestrians so speed must be kept low and pedestrians take precedent; when practical ride in the direction of traffic on sidepaths in order to reduce conflicts with motorists making right turns from side streets and driveways.
- Be aware of various surface- and weather conditions and be prepared to deal with them; wet or sandy surfaces are potential hazards.
- Carry a phone, identification, a friend or relative’s contact information, and relevant medical information.
- Make sure someone knows your routes (leave them written down somewhere or inform someone of your plan).
- Call the police if you’re injured, put at risk, or harassed during your ride.
- Report roadway and sidepath hazards and obstacles.
- Pepper spray may be appropriate when dog encounters are anticipated.
As I stated up front, none of this should be news for anyone who routinely traverses our roads and pathways. However, observation and statistics bear out that way too many people in cars, on bikes, and on foot either lack common sense or choose to ignore it. Be prepared to deal with these folks and you’ll enjoy your walk, run or ride. ¦
Running and walking
- Friday, Nov. 19, Bonita Rotary 5K, Riverside Park, downtown Bonita Springs (3dracing.com)
- Thursday, Nov. 24, Turkey Trot 5K, Cape Coral Hospital (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
- Saturday, Dec. 3, River Run 10K & 2-miler, Centennial Park, Downtown Fort Myers (ftmyerstrackclub.com)
- For more Lee County running events visit Fort Myers Track Club (ftmyerstrackclub.com); Endurance Sports Timing (endurancesportstiming.com); and 3-D Racing (3dracing.com). Walkers can visit meetup.com/Walking-SWFL.
Cycling, triathlons and other events
- Friday, Nov. 25, Cape Coral Critical Mass ride, 8 p.m. roll-out, 4706 SE 11th Place, a family-friendly ride through the Cape. (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
- Saturday, Nov. 26, SW Florida Critical Mass starter/sightseeing ride, 9 a.m. roll-out, 2160 McGregor Blvd, 6 miles, includes group ride instruction. (meetup.com/Biking- SWFL/events/)
- Sunday, Nov. 27, Iron Joe Turkey Ride, 10-, 30-, and 62-mile rides, Naples (naplespathways.org)
- Friday, Dec. 2, Fort Myers Critical Mass ride, 8 p.m. roll-out, parking lot next to Publix on McGregor at Victoria (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/)
- For more Lee County cycling and tri events, visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club (caloosariders.org); Florida Mudcutters (mudcutters.org); and SW Florida Biking Meetup Group (meetup.com/Biking-SWFL).
The Florida Bicycle Association (floridabicycle.org) is your source for statewide happenings. BikeWalkLee’s blog site (bikewalklee.blogspot.com) has all the information you’ll need to stay abreast of advocacy efforts in Southwest Florida as well as statewide and nationally. ¦
- Dan Moser is a long-time bicycle/pedestrian advocate and traffic safety professional who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. Contact him at email@example.com and 334-6417.