Sunday, March 8, 2015

GoPro view: SWFL bicyclists share their rides

Great GoPro video with Tessa LeSage as she bikes with her 6 year-old daughter to school, teaching her how to deal with traffic and safe riding.  Second GoPro video with bicycle commuter Ryan Scofield who talks about why he takes over a lane while riding. (click here to watch videos)

News-Press Sunday 3/8/15 Bike Safety Feature:
GoPro view: SWFL bicyclists share their rides

Janine Zeitlin, 

Tessa and daughter (photo by Andrew West/NP)
We asked Southwest Florida bicyclists to share videos of their daily rides.

Most weekday mornings, Tessa LeSage and her 6-year-old daughter Penelope pedal through their Whiskey Creek neighborhood to Tanglewood Elementary School in Fort Myers, where Penelope attends first grade. Penelope agreed to wear a GoPro to share her ride with The News-Press.

Drivers, including parents distracted by phones, are a threat for which Tessa is on guard. Sometimes, cars rush to try to beat them to stop signs or block crosswalks. Tessa rides slightly behind and outside of Penelope to create a barrier of protection. Tessa, 36, spent the summer working with Penelope to reinforce road rules, teach her to communicate with drivers through hand signals and to build up her endurance.

"Everyone is in such a hurry and they're always on their phones," LeSage says of their ride. "It would be nice if the cars on the road were a little bit more aware of the rules and gave us space."
Marked bike lanes would also help. Still, the positives of spending time with her daughter before work and exercising together outweigh the negatives.

"I'm just a very firm believer and wisher that this community will become more active. It brings so much joy and is so much better for her."

Bonita Springs bicycle commuter, Ryan Scofield, uses a GoPro during his daily commutes to Naples for his protection. He shared some footage of his rides over the years with The News-Press. Scofield uses the full lane while riding in narrow roads, which is allowed by law in certain instances. He had too many close calls while riding far to the right and on sidewalks. Collier sheriff's deputies have stopped him, but have found nothing to negate his right to take the lane.
Ryan Scofield (photo by Andrew West/NP)
"It's basically defensive driving," he said. "It's a misconception that I'm unfairly blocking their way."

On the road, he follows the rules of a motor vehicle as required by law. He feels safer and more visible, but it has made him a target for irked drivers, including a road rage incident earlier this year. He estimates that his position delays drivers five to ten seconds, a minute at the most if it's a two-lane road.

He believes education on bicyclists rights, law enforcement included, would help make his rides safer. He gave up his car a few years ago for the exercise and environmental benefits.

"Education is so, so very important. If at least if people understand that what I'm doing is legal and I'm not doing anything wrong and I'm doing what I'm supposed to do according to all the safety experts, I think that would relieve some of the tension," he said. "People are always going to honk and that's fine. Hopefully, we will get better but I know it will never be a utopia."
Since last year, The News-Press has focused on making the roads safer for the state's most vulnerable road users, including bicyclists and walkers, as part of its campaign, Share the Road Florida. We have highlighted bicyclists because bike crashes and injuries in Southwest Florida have spiked at alarming rates in recent years. Share and learn about ideas to make the roads safer on The News-Press Facebook page, Share the Road Florida

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