BikeWalkLee Column ‘Go Coastal’
The News-Press, June 17, 2021
by Ken Gooderham
So it is welcome news that the session just completed included approval of a significant piece of legislation that can have a positive impact on a number of bike/ped issues. The “Move Over for People” act handily cleared both the House and Senate, and is awaiting Gov. DeSantis’ signature.
As is often the case with this kind of legislation, the bill adds fixes or clarity to existing Florida Statutes rather than enacting sweeping new initiatives. Nonetheless, many of these updates will benefit both bikers/walkers and drivers by making the intent of existing safety efforts clearer and easier to grasp… or, sometimes, just making drivers more aware of them in general.
Some of the bill’s features:
- Provides requirements for a vehicle overtaking a bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle, an electric bicycle, or a pedestrian occupying the same travel lane.
What it means: Tighten up and clarifies the “3 foot” rule for passing bikes and pedestrians. The bill also defines “bike lane” and “separated bike lane” (which was not in place already), which also clarifies the passing requirements.
- Requires the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to provide an awareness campaign regarding vehicles overtaking a bicycle, other nonmotorized vehicle, an electric bicycle, or a pedestrian. Also requires at least 25 questions in the test bank for the driver license test to address bicycle and pedestrian safety.
What it means: It boosts awareness of bike/ped rules in general and as part of licensing – which matters since all the laws in the world won’t help if nobody know they exist.
- Provides that no-passing zones do not apply to drivers who safely and briefly drive to the left of center of the roadway to overtake a bicycle, other nonmotorized vehicle, an electric bicycle, or a pedestrian.
What it means: Drivers moving over for cyclists in a no-passing zone now won’t face a penalty for doing that.
- Requires a vehicle making a right turn while overtaking and passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction, to do so only if the bicycle is at least 20 feet from the intersection.
What it means: Hopefully, no more cutting cyclists off without warning when a motorist makes a right turn. By adding a distance requirement (20 feet), it should make conditions a little safer for cyclists on the road.
- Authorizes bicyclists riding in groups, after coming to a full stop, to go through an intersection in groups of 10 or fewer.
What it means: Clarifies how groups of cyclists work with motorists to get through intersections. Drivers have to let groups of cyclists go through, but cyclists have to do so in groups (rather than a long single line).
- Provides guidelines for riding a bicycle in a substandard-width lane and authorizes riders to ride two abreast if certain conditions exit.
What it means: Again, clarifies the existing rules to allow cyclists to “take the lane” (even a too-narrow lane) to avoid a hazardous situation. Also lets cyclists to ride side-by-side temporarily on a narrow road if conditions demand it for safety.
If the governor signs the law (or lets it become law without action), the new rules would take effect July 1. Let’s hope that happens.
Summertime has squeezed local running and biking events, with July 4 the biggest bump on the horizon. It’s still smart to confirm events with the organizers and stay flexible in case conditions (and pandemic guidelines) change.
FORT MYERS TRACK CLUB (ftmyerstrackclub.com):
Business Solutions Freedom 5K Run/Walk & Gunterberg Charitable
Foundation Kid's Fun Run, Sunday, July 4, Cape Coral Bridge
GC RUNNERS (gcrunner.org):
- GCR Firecracker 5K, July 3-5, virtual
ELITE EVENTS (runeliteevents.com):
- USA Independence Day 5K, Sunday, July 4, Estero
- Publix Run to the Arts 5K run/walk – in-person is now delayed to Nov. 20, runsignup.com or runtothearts.com
- Wheel Lee Fun instructional series for young riders. Four weekly sessions beginning July 5, go to crbc.clubexpress.com/wheelleefun for details.
The Caloosa Riders are offering member rides, but some are open to non-members (and it wouldn’t hurt you to join the club); check their ride calendar (caloosariders.org) for a description of the distance and speed, and to see if the ride is open to all.
SW Florida Critical Mass is offering their usual slate of family-friendly rides. Check out their line-up online (www.meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/) for details and times (and to make sure the ride is still rolling).
- SW Florida Critical Mass ride, first Friday of the month. A family-friendly slow night ride through Fort Myers. Front and rear bike lights required. Helmet and lights required, meet in the parking lot at 2180 West First Street, Fort Myers.
- Sanibel Critical Mass night ride, second Saturday of the month. Gathers at Jerry’s Shopping Center, 1700 Periwinkle Way, on Sanibel. Lights required, helmets recommended.
- NE Lee Critical Mass ride, third Friday of the month. Gather in the Winn Dixie parking lot on Palm Beach Blvd. about five miles east of the Interstate; gather at 7 p.m. and roll at 7:30 p.m. for a slow ride through Fort Myers Shores.
- Cape Coral Critical Mass ride, fourth Friday of the month. Gather at the Southwest Florida Military Museum parking lot at 4820 Leonard Street for a family-friendly night ride through the Cape; helmets and lights required.
- Saturday Morning
Slow Roll, fourth Saturday of the month. Meet-up at 2160 McGregor Blvd.,
Fort Myers. Recommended for inexperienced/young riders. Distance is 6
miles, includes group ride instruction.
If racing is not your thing but you’d like to support their return nonetheless, consider volunteering to help out at the few in-person offerings ahead. With Covid concerns still confining some of the usual volunteers, a few new helping hand would certainly be welcomed.
- Fort Desoto Triathlon, June 26, Fort Desoto (St. Petersburg), sprint and Olympic
- Sirens & Merman Triathlon & Duathlon, June 27, Sarasota
- Top Gun Triathlon, July 17, St. Petersburg
- Siesta Sprint Triathlon, Aug. 1, Siesta Key
- Fort Desoto Triathlon, Aug. 14, Fort Desoto (St. Petersburg), sprint and Olympic
- Fort Desoto Triathlon, Sept. 11, Fort Desoto (St. Petersburg), sprint and Olympic
- St. Anthony’s Triathlon (St. Petersburg) rescheduled to Oct. 1-3, 2021
- City Island Triathlon, Oct. 10, Sarasota