Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column: Group riding requires adherence to road rules

June 20, 2012     Dan's column focuses on the do's and don't of group rides for law enforcement officers, cyclists, and motorists.
Much too frequently I field complaints from cyclists who’ve had encounters with law enforcement personnel when on group rides. As part of my job as Florida Bicycle Association’s program director, as well as in my various roles locally, nary a week goes by that I don’t hear from someone who’s been pulled over and is asking what to do when what was an isolated incident becomes the norm on certain roads or communities.

In some cases I come to the assumption that police action targeting group cyclists can be considered harassment, meant to intimidate and shoo away these pesky invaders. In those instances it’s usually a resident’s complaints about being delayed or inconvenienced that makes its way from the mayor’s office or other elected or high ranking official on to the corresponding law enforcement agency with the order to make these pests disappear. I also understand that minor traffic regulations are perhaps being ignored by cyclists, so police have the law on their side. That being stated, if the laws being broken aren’t creating safety problems for the cyclists or motorists, police could exercise discretion in enforcement, just as they do when they ignore motorists’ violations, which is frequently the case.

The bottom line is this: Merely being delayed by cyclists who have the right to use the road — including controlling the entire lane, whether single file or two abreast, because the lane is less than 14-feet wide (most lanes are 11 or 12-feet wide) — isn’t illegal and shouldn’t get groups pulled over and lectured, warned or cited. But blowing through stop signs and red lights, riding against traffic (something group riders rarely do), and generally flaunting traffic rules does justify such action.

As cyclists, we can all do ourselves a favor by riding smart, including controlling the lane when appropriate and prudent, and keeping in mind that we all must share the public right of way so should be considerate of others. And as drivers, that means being patient and understanding of the rights cyclists and other vulnerable road users have. Another suggestion I have for cyclists is that any aggressive or lawless attitude one might have when riding in a pack be something that’s not tolerated by the group. Finally, remember that public roads are not race courses (unless closed to other traffic for special events), neither for motorists or cyclists, so they must be used as intended and prescribed by traffic law and common courtesy.

This and that
The Brotherhood Ride (, an annual week-long ride in honor of public safety professionals who lost their lives in the line of duty, successfully finished-up in St. Pete last weekend. Thirty riders participated this year, raising funds for the families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

More than 300 participants took part in Fort Myers Track Club’s annual Membership
Run in early June, running through and around Hammond Stadium. Yes, it was hot and humid, but everyone seemed to enjoy milling around the stadium’s fountain afterward, where refreshments were served and the annual membership meeting took place. A few new board members were brought on-board along with those who were re-elected. Next up: Fourth of July 5K in Cape Coral (

For cyclists, the third annual Wheels and Wings Ride ( is happening in Punta Gorda on Saturday, July 7. What’s great about this ride is the “gentleman’s race” and a trailer that will display the cyclists’ speed as they go by, with those going over the speed limit receiving a written warning (suitable for framing) from PGPD. Need I say more to get you there?
Finally, if you’re thinking of taking part in the second annual Captiva Tri (, held on Sept. 15 (kids event) and Sept. 16, don’t delay in registering. Last year the number of participants maxed-out, so some who wanted to take part were turned away.

Advocacy update
Lots of things are happening in the way of policy, facilities and enforcement matters. Be sure to visit BikeWalkLee’s blog ( to get updated.
Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails.

— Dan Moser is a league cycling and CyclingSavvy instructor/ trainer and programs director for the Florida Bicycle

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