Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Dan Moser's Florida Weekly column:Controversial law hot topic at ProBike/ProWalk conference
Transportation and planning professionals, advocates and others interested in what’s happing in the bike/pedestrian world around Florida gathered in Lakeland last week at the Florida Bicycle Association’s ProBike/ProWalk conference. Many topics were covered over the three-day event, with bike/ped economics, the theme of the conference, being the primary subject. However, one issue that only recently surfaced was the implications of a bill passed by the Florida Legislature this session. Prior to the conference a Florida Department of Transportation representative provided the following comments on House Bill 971:
1. It would allow local governments to adopt ordinances to allow golf carts to be used on sidewalks. The maximum speed limit for golf carts on sidewalks may not be greater than 15 mph.
2. Even more sweeping provisions would allow local authorities to adopt ordinances to permit or regulate “motorized scooters or miniature motorcycles” to be operated on sidewalks. The bill allows the use of “vehicles” (without any further qualification), “mopeds,” and “electric personal assistive mobility devices” (i.e., Segways), on sidewalks and “sidewalk areas.” Any such ordinance would have to include a 15 mph speed limit. There is no requirement for such an ordinance to include a requirement to yield to pedestrians on sidewalks. The section of the bill that specifically describes permissible golf cart ordinances states that local authorities must consider in this case whether “pedestrians may safely share the sidewalk,” but no such consideration is mentioned in regard to an ordinance that permitted miniature motorcycle or moped use on sidewalks.
3. The bill also includes a requirement for a cyclist traveling at less than the “normal speed of traffic” to ride “in the lane marked for bicycle use” — presumably this means a designated bicycle lane. No exception is included that specifically allows a cyclist who intends to turn right to not use a bike lane marked between a through lane and a right-turn lane. As the bill is written, it seems to assume that a bike lane will always be placed on the far right of
a roadway. However, the existing general exception, “When reasonably necessary to avoid any condition, including, but not limited to “moving vehicle,” could be interpreted as allowing a cyclist to leave bike lane in this case, so as to make a right turn that wouldn’t involve such an obvious potential conflict with other traffic.
Another provision will allow those who are now unable to legally drive after being convicted of their fourth DUI to be eligible to have their license reinstated. What prompted our elected representatives to include in this “transportation clean-up bill” a provision like this and the others outlined above makes one wonder, to say the least. To see the entire bill, go to www.myfloridahouse.gov, click on Bill Finder, and enter 971.
In my next few columns I will relate on other things that took place at ProBike/ ProWalk Florida.
The driving force behind Bike- WalkLee’s success, Darla Letourneau, was honored by Florida Bicycle Association at ProBike/ProWalk Florida as this year’s Citizen Advocate of the Year. It was acknowledged that Ms. Letourneau’s efforts and expertise not only influence Lee County and Southwest Florida but also have statewide and national effects. She’s truly worthy of this award.
Related to the HB 971, FBA is asking anyone concerned about the impacts of this legislation to contact Gov. Charlie Crist and ask him to veto the bill (850) 488-7146; Charlie.Crist@MyFlorida. com). FBA will continue to work on this matter, including efforts to minimize its impacts should it be signed by the governor or left to become law without his signature. You can stay abreast of happenings at FBA's website.
— Dan Moser is league cycling instructor/trainer and a former bike/ ped coordinator who cycles regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He can be contacted at moserdeleon@ juno.com or 334-6417.
NOTE: See Sarasota 5/20/10 article on cyclists' problems with HB 971.