Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Suggestions on sharing the road

The News-Press, 3/16/2017
by Ken Gooderham

Treat cyclists as vehicles. Pass cyclists as you would any
other slow-moving vehicle… with caution and respect.
Yield to them in intersections. Don’t tailgate.
(Photo: news-press file photo)
What do we mean when we say: “Share the road”?

Simply, it means motor vehicles and bicycles traveling on the same roadway at the same time… not as radical a notion as you might think.

However, sharing the road also means sharing some responsibility for how you act and interact during this joined journey. (It also means having roads that make sharing possible… more on that later.)

Some share the road tips for cyclists:
  • Be visible. Don’t blend in with the background stand out with bright colors and lights (at night for sure, and even during the day).
  • Be predictable. Obey the rules of the road, signal your plans and avoid doing anything erratic or unexpected (from a driver’s point of view).
  • Be aware. No headphones or cell phones (same goes for drivers), look before you turn and no biking under the influence.
  • Be safe. No high-risk maneuvers or reckless riding… and, if you’re going to play in traffic, why not wear a helmet.
  • Be the bigger person. If you have a driver who’s not so good at sharing his or her roadway, just ride away. Don’t argue, don’t antagonize, don’t yell or gesture. You do not want to deal with two tons of steel being driven by someone with a bad attitude.
What about drivers of motor vehicles?
  • Three feet please isn’t just a catchy slogan – it’s the law.
  • Treat cyclists as vehicles. Pass cyclists as you would any other slow-moving vehicle… with caution and respect. Yield to them in intersections. Don’t tailgate.
  • Watch out when making turns in any direction… don’t cut off a cyclist by accident.
  • Look behind you when opening your car door when cyclists on the street.
  • Bike lanes are just that – for bikes (and, often, pedestrians when there are no sidewalks nearby). They’re not turning lanes, parking lanes, golf cart lanes or anything else.
Ideally, sharing works best on roads meant to be used by all… meaning driving lanes for cars, bike lanes for cyclists, sidewalks for pedestrians, and shared-use paths for both. (That’s why they’re called complete streets.) But in reality some roads have shoulders (wide or not), some roads have sidewalks only and some roads are just… roads, two lanes (or more) of asphalt designed to move motor vehicles and nothing else.

That doesn’t mean cyclists won’t (or can’t) be on these incomplete streets… in fact, state law gives them that right. But it does mean everyone needs to behave (or at least try to) in order to make sharing this kind of road work.

As local cycling facilities continue to improve, and given our often-ideal weather and flat terrain, cycling should continue to grow in popularity and purpose (particularly in this time of year, when a short errand can take less time by bike than by car). So we can hope that sharing the road similarly grows, so everyone can get to his her destination safely regardless of your mode of transportation.

It’s Bike Month!

March is Bike Month in Florida, as good a time as any to get out for a ride. Besides the usual Critical Mass rides, there will be some longer organized rides to get you in the spirit (with one already in the rear-view mirror, last weekend’s Royal Palm Classic):

  • Sunday, March 19: Cycling for Fallen Heroes, 10-, 28-, 42- and 62-mile rides starting from Trek Bicycle Store of Estero (
  • Saturday, March 25: Pedal and Play in Paradise, 15-, 30- and 62-mile rides plus a mystery tour. Laishley Park, Punta Gorda (

Of course, there are always Critical Mass rides aplenty to join with other in sharing your love of cycling this month. And, if all else fails, you can always grab your helmet and go for a ride all by your lonesome.

Ready to ride or run?

Run? You can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day tonight with a 5K in Naples (, and get the jump on those who will wait until Friday to celebrate (and probably in a less healthy fashion). Otherwise, the flurry of 5Ks continues with a Pelican Pride run March 18; the following weekend brings a Scope for Hope 5K, a Running with the Sharks 5K and a Run for Music 10K. Info at, and, respectively.

Ride? The usual Critical Mass rides: Estero on March 17 and the downtown starter ride March 25. Two longer rides are also heading this way: Cycling for Fallen Heroes in Estero on March 19, with distances of 10, 28, 42 and 62 miles (; and Pedal and Play in Paradise in Punta Gorda, with 15-, 30- and 62-mile options ( Looking for something different? Ride the Glades on April 2 at the 10th annual Everglades Ride… a variety of distances and surfaces (

-- Ken Gooderham writes this on behalf of BikeWalkLee, a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County — streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at

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