Dan's column this week focuses on the need for sharing the pathways among all the users--cyclists, pedestrians, skaters, runners, etc. Be considerate and safe!
a walker, runner and cyclist who engages in using sidewalks, multi-use
paths and linear park trails almost every day, my professional
experience allows me to really see what’s going on out there. In most
cases, it’s pretty good in terms of behavior and etiquette, but there
are quite a few unsafe and inconsiderate walking, running, skating and
cycling examples I’d like to touch upon.
One thing to keep in mind in almost all cases on a pathway —
regardless of width, surface type or predominate user — is that
pedestrians have first priority. This is especially true of disabled
users (those in wheelchairs and even motorized assistive devices are, by
law, pedestrians), who have the highest priority. One exception: on
trails, usually unpaved, where horseback riding is allowed, the horse
and rider have the right-of-way over all other users. The reason for
this is a horse’s unpredictable nature. So, except on equestrian trails,
cyclists and pedestrians on wheels (skaters, skateboarders, etc.) must
yield to true pedestrians, warn when passing and exercise caution around
reasonable, doesn’t it? Yet, I witness and hear of too many examples of
cyclists terrorizing walkers and runners by zipping by unannounced,
usually on a narrow sidewalk such as McGregor Boulevard. Sometimes
walkers and runners bring the behavior on themselves by wearing
headphones or being oblivious to their surrounding because they are
engulfed in text messaging or phone conversation. While that may be bad
etiquette, there’s no law against pedestrians using headphones, so
cyclists (who are required by law to give an audible warning when
passing anyone on a pathway) must take that into account and pass
safely, always assuming a pedestrian may not be aware of the action
about to occur. Cyclists on pathways should ride at speeds appropriate
for the kind of traffic encountered. In many cases, that means very
slow. So for those who want to get somewhere in a reasonable amount of
time, or just ride hard, the road is the place to be.
stated, it’s not illegal for those on foot to become oblivious to their
surroundings, or at least to the sounds and cues around them, but
allowing others to pass safely is required. In other words, if walking
or running two or three abreast, thus taking up the entire path’s width,
be prepared to share the space when necessary. And if there are dogs
involved, keep them on short leashes that won’t trip a runner or take
down a cyclist. Runners can be just as menacing as cyclists if they zip
by from behind unannounced. Be courteous and give warning, slowing or
stopping if necessary, especially if dealing with elderly folks or those
with mobility limitations. In any case, be nice to those with whom
you’re sharing the pathway.
Another issue I’ve covered before is the move underway to allow
motorized vehicles such as electric golf carts on certain pathways. We
all know there are already many out there using the sidewalks and paths
illegally, but once it becomes legal, I predict the numbers will swell
and create even more conflicts on facilities that are meant for
non-motorized use. Lee County is holding a public workshop in September
to take input — keep an eye on BikeWalkLee’s blog (bikewalklee.
blogspot.com) for details.
Finally, an excellent source of information and answers to questions
related to bike/ped law can be found at the Florida Bicycle
Association’s Florida Bike Law website (flbikelaw.org). George Martin,
FBA’s law enforcement expert, answers questions that usually result in a
dialogue that includes others involved in law enforcement throughout
the state and country.
Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails. ¦
— Dan Moser is a league cycling and CyclingSavvy instruct or/ trainer
and programs director for the Florida Bicycle Association who cycles,
runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He
can be contacted at email@example.com or 334- 6417.