June 20, 2012 Dan's column focuses on the do's and don't of group rides for law enforcement officers, cyclists, and motorists.
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.
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
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 (brotherhoodride.com), 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 (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com)
For cyclists, the third annual Wheels and Wings Ride (www.peaceriverridersbicycleclub.com)
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 (www.captivatri.com),
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.
Lots of things are happening in the way of policy, facilities and
enforcement matters. Be sure to visit BikeWalkLee’s blog
(bikewalklee.blogspot.com) 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