Thursday, March 15, 2018

Do you know your laws?

BikeWalkLee Column
The News-Press, 3/15/2018
by Ken Gooderham

With high season upon us, our roads aren’t the only place where congestion — and sometimes bad behavior — reign. Many of our pathways are quite busy and some reach capacity at times. Those include some stretches on Sanibel, Fort Myers Beach, Bonita Beach, parts of McGregor Boulevard and sidewalks in the core of downtown Fort Myers. While full-time residents can forego overcrowded restaurants until things get back to normal, that’s not always an option for roads and pathways.

For those walking or running the most common complaints relate to cyclists who use the paths — which are frequently narrow sidewalks only 5 feet wide — but travel fast and fail to warn when passing. Another common gripe is that motorists fail to comply with crosswalks, don’t stop before making a right-on-red or block the crosswalk when waiting to proceed.

How well do you know your bicycle laws? Try this:
  1. Is a bicycle is considered a vehicle?
  2. Does a cyclist have a right to ride on a public roadway?
  3. Can a cyclist be given a traffic ticket?
  4. If you’re riding at night, does your bike need to have lights front and rear?
  5. Can a cyclist use a headset while riding?
  6. At what age must a cyclist wear a helmet?
  7. Does a cyclist have to ride in the same direction as motor vehicle traffic?
  8. Can cyclists ride more than two abreast on a public road?
  9. Do cyclists have to warn pedestrians before overtaking them?
  10. What width driving lane is considered “shareable”?
The answers:
  1. Yes, according to Florida Statutes (FS) 316.003(2).
  2. Yes.
  3. Yes, for violating either the standard or bike-specific parts of FS Chapter 316. Good news is a bike citation does not accrue points on your record.
  4. Yes, according to FS 316.2065(8).
  5. No, according to FS 316.304.
  6. Any cyclist under age 16 is required to wear a helmet. A smart cyclist of any age should wear one as well.
  7. Yes, if you’re riding in the driving lane. No if on a sidewalk.
  8. No, and they can only ride side-by-side if they do not impede traffic. If you’re riding on a bike-only lane, you can ride more than two abreast.
  9. Yes, if on a sidewalk or crosswalk. Not a bad idea on a shared-use path, either.
  10. 14 feet, since that allows a motor vehicle to pass a cyclist in the same lane without violating the three-foot rule (the closest your vehicle is supposed to be to a cyclist).
Know them all? Great! Didn’t do too well? Consider heading to the Florida Bicycle Association website ( to download a copy of their “Complete Bicycle & Pedestrian Law Enforcement Guide.” A good summary of the pertinent statutes for both biking and walking.

Beware the autonomous auto

Bad news, cyclists. The driverless technology that’s going to revolutionize transportation? Not so good at seeing someone on a bike.

I guess we can’t be too surprised. Given all the trouble human drivers sometimes have sharing the road with cyclists, why would we expect AI would make it any better?

One study of autonomous cars – a phrase we’ll have to start getting used to – says bicycles are “the most difficult detection problem that autonomous vehicle systems face.”

Why? Nimble, small and unpredictable – the same issues that human drivers have with them.

One solution being proffered is to have cyclists wear a communications gizmo that would allow the autonomous vehicle to sense its digital presence. This could allow a faster response by the vehicle, befitting the bicycle’s more nimble moves (and the cyclist’s more unpredictable behavior).

Of course, this early in the beta-testing means the developers of autonomous-vehicle technology still have time to tweak the software, hopefully making it easier to sense bicyclists more in line with its capacity to navigate vehicles, pedestrians and various road hazards.

Who knows? Maybe if they find an answer for autonomous vehicles, they might figure out a way to make cyclists more visible to human-driven ones next!

Ready to ride or run?

Run? If your St. Patrick’s Day celebration needs to include a run, there’s one tonight in Naples, -- a 5K at Fit & Fuel ( There are two options on March 24 – a 5K in Cape Coral ( or a 10K at Artis Naples (
Ride? On March 25, join the Cycling for Fallen Heroes event and pick from your choice of a 10-, 28-, 42- or 62-mile ride ( A rare gap in Critical Mass rides due to the calendar, with the next one not until March 30 in Cape coral.

Both?  Since it’s good to plan your tris in advance, put these three on the calendar:
  • Sunday, April 15: FGCU Eagle Sprint Tri and Duathlon, Florida Gulf Coast University (
  • Saturday, May 12: Cape Coral Yacht Club Sprint Tri (
  • Sunday, June 3: Fitness Challenge Sprint Tri, Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, Naples (
  • Also, registration opens for the Galloway Captiva Tri on May 1; the race weekend is Sept. 15-16, with the kids’ events Saturday and the sprint tri Sunday.


Have a favorite route you like to bike, or a unique walk you’d like to share with others? Tell us about it at, and maybe we can feature it in an upcoming column.

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Ken Gooderham writes this on behalf of BikeWalkLee, a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County — streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at 


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