Thursday, April 26, 2018

BikeWalkLee: Passing on your left!

BikeWalkLee Column
The News-Press, 4/26/2018
by Ken Gooderham

Recently, a morning ride took me through Lakes Regional Park, a usually popular place made even more so that day by the weekly farmers’ market. Because of this, the shared-use paths were filled with walkers and the occasional cyclist.

As is (usually) my habit, I warned any walker I was approaching from behind with a “Passing on your left”… particularly useful, I’ve found, when you are actually passing on their left. Their responses fell into one of three categories:
  • “Thanks” and/or a friendly wave.
  • A startled scurry to the side of the path.
  • Complete ignorance, either due to headphones or an engrossing conversation.

Of course, there is no right response, but the range is typical – and interesting. It also raised the eternal quandary: “To warn or not to warn, that is the question.”

Those steeped in their Florida Statutes (you know who you are) know that there is no question on this – it’s the law to provide “an audible warning” before passing a pedestrian (F.S. 316.2065(10) for those keeping score).

Of course, just because it’s the law doesn’t mean it actually happens… which explains the range of responses above. Many walkers are not used to being warned before passing, but many of them appreciate the gesture.

The warning – whether by voice, bell or other device – is not to scare people, but to avoid surprising them – or having them inadvertently do something (such as swerve) that could cause a collision with the cyclist. (The same motivation should come into play when passing other cyclists… particularly the “avoiding collision” part.)

Such situations also underscore the importance of having something that will cut through the din when a shout just won’t do. One group walking four abreast could not hear my warning over their own conversations, but they sure did hear the bell that followed it up. Said bell also cuts through most (but not all) earphone noise, a useful trait.

Warnings also play a big role in many group rides, particularly larger groups whose riders are both experienced and fast. Riders will warn one another of approaching vehicles, pedestrians and hazards, as well as of impending actions such as turns and stops. Watching – or, even more, listening – to an experienced group keep every cyclist aware of what’s happening around them is a sight to behold (or be-hear).

Speaking of turns and stops, it’s also the law for any vehicle (including cyclists) to warn other vehicles in advance. It’s also a smart way for a cyclist to take control of an impending interaction with motor vehicles, to both warn them of your plans and show that you are being a responsible vehicle operator.

Will everyone warn or signal? Of course not. Should they? Yes!

Anything that can help everyone using the roadway or pathway safer and less likely to collide is a smart thing to do – for all parties involved.

Ready to ride or run?

Run? As the temperatures rise, the organized run season winds down… with a 5K Run/2 Mile Walk to Support Head & Neck Cancer Patients at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers Saturday, and the Tropicool 5K in Naples May 6. Details at and
Ride? Critical Mass meets up for its Cape Coral ride tomorrow (April 27), and for its Slow Roll in downtown fort Myers Saturday morning. Then it’s back downtown on the night of May for the big CM ride. For thee night rides, lights are mandatory; for all rides helmets are suggested. Details at

Both? Next up is the Cape Coral sprint at the Yacht Club (obviously, bacteria levels permitting) on Saturday, May 12 (details at Ahead:
  • Sunday, June 3: Fitness Challenge Sprint Tri, Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, Naples (
  • Saturday, July 14: Englewood YMCA Sprint Triathlon, Englewood (
  • 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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