Saturday, May 15, 2010
HB 971 Bad for Bicyclists and Pedestrians
Unbeknown to Florida Bicycle Association, a mandatory bike lane use provision was included in the Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles bill that was passed by the Florida Legislature. The bill also allows local governments to permit mopeds, golf-carts and other motorized vehicles on sidewalks and trails.
Why it's bad for bicyclists:
Motorists who learn of the bill will have one more very strong excuse to harass cyclists who "aren't in the bike lane." There are many striped-off areas of roadways that are not really bike lanes, but some believe they are. They will also likely be ignorant of all the exceptions to the law (because they'll hear it second hand) and even if they read it in full, they won't understand many of the good reasons cyclists need to leave bike lanes.
Visit the FBA blog or CommuteOrlando.com to view a photo of how a bicyclist outside a bike lane is put in a defensive position and must prove his or her innocence. Many bike lanes are substandard in width, force cyclists into door zones, or are improperly placed to the right of right-turn-only lanes, but many officers don't understand these problems.
Motorists get another new excuse when they hit a cyclist: "He left the bike lane."
Why it's bad for pedestrians:
It's bad enough that pedestrians have to suffer parked cars blocking sidewalks, being blasted by sprinklers, sidewalk bicyclists who don't announce themselves when passing, and thousands of other nuisances, now they'll have to share stretches of sidewalk in some jurisdictions with motorized vehicles. Local governments will be able to permit mopeds, golf-carts, motorized scooters and other vehicles which don't belong on sidewalks and on "bike paths." The law limits such vehicles to 15 mph, but how will that be enforced?
It's time for Florida's bicyclists and pedestrians to send a strong message:
"We will not be marginalized."
Call Governor Crist now to ask him to veto this bill. Executive Office of the Governor Switchboard: (850) 488-7146
Mighk Willson, FBA Board member
Smart Growth Manager, Metroplan Orlando