Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Hit those wheels — May is National Bike Month

Florida Weekly 'Outdoors' column, 5/9/18

Bike parking structures like this make clear how welcome cyclists are at this business in Estero.
As Southwest Florida’s weather turns from warm to nearly unbearable, much of the rest of the country is finally bidding farewell to an unusually long winter. Folks from up North are now able to ride bikes without having to deal with all that comes with the cold and other nasty aspects of winter. The League of American Bicyclists has recognized this turn of season annually since 1956 by designating May as National Bike Month.

Because May’s heat can be challenging for those of us in this part of the country the Florida Bicycle Association has designated March as Florida Bike Month. But the FBA also recognizes LAB’s Bike Month, as do many communities in Florida that take part in one way or another. The good news for Southwest Floridians is that the almost daily thunderstorms usually won’t begin before late in the month or early June, meaning conditions are still fine for cycling so long as the heat is taken into consideration.

National Bike Month consists of a number of elements: Bike to School Day is May 9; Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13, is CycloFemme Day, intended to encourage women to ride and promote the value of doing so; and Bike to Work Week is May 14-18 with Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 18. Check in with BikeWalkLee at for local events or see if your workplace has anything planned during the week or month.

Not technically associated with LAB’s activities but happening throughout the world during National Bike Month is Ride of Silence on Wednesday evening, May 16. It’s a slow-speed and somber ride to recognize all those who’ve lost their lives while on a bike. Fort Myers holds its annual ROS at 7 p.m. from Centennial Park downtown, and Sanibel will conduct its ride from Matzaluna restaurant, also beginning at 7 p.m. Visit for all other ROS locations.

Even if there’s nothing organized, why not ride to work alone or with a friend or co-worker? Or just make it a point to ride as much as possible during the month. Who knows, it may just become a habit once you realize how much satisfaction and benefit it provides.

While on the subject of cycling, I received some feedback on my previous column about road position that I’d like to share. As I’ve stated many times, having the right to the road comes with responsibility as well. Here’s what one reader wrote: “Having read your article, a few thoughts come to mind. I’m sure your knowledge of the law in this regard is correct. I had no clue about the Florida DOT laws in this regard and learned quite a bit from the article. I also noticed that you did not discuss the fact that bicycles also are obliged to follow the rules of the road, same as cars. Living in Bonita Bay, I notice bikers do not think they need to stop for stop signs — ever! I believe this behavior and the fact that a bicyclist riding in the center of a lane at say 15 mph and holding up traffic instills in the driver a negative feeling that just may outweigh the slim possibility of being hit by a side mirror if hugging the right side of the lane. If a car was driving at 15 mph in front of you on a 30 mph road I’m thinking you may become a little impatient. I know I would.”

The issue of cyclists blowing stop signs and red lights is one I hear about a lot. While I’d like to see the Idaho Stop Law in place throughout the country (Title 49, Chapter 7, 49-720; cyclists may treat a red light as a STOP sign and a STOP sign as a YIELD sign), this is not the case in Florida and, as far as I’ve been able to determine only Delaware and parts of Colorado have some version of it.

So, particularly at locations where there are many eyes on us, it’s imperative that we obey traffic law pertaining to stopping. Flaunting the law — which also means being unpredictable — gives all cyclists a bad name and perpetuates the belief among many motorists (and some law enforcers) that cyclists should not be allowed to use the road when a pathway exists or at least must hug the gutter when in the travel lane. For those who routinely ignore traffic law when on a bike, please consider the overall effect of your behavior on your fellow cyclists and yourself. There’s no need to give certain motorists justification for disrespecting cyclists. ¦

- Dan Moser is a long-time bicycle/pedestrian advocate and traffic safety professional who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. Contact him at and 334-6417. 

For Lee County cycling and tri events visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club (; Florida Mudcutters (; and SW Florida Biking Meetup Group ( The Florida Bicycle Association ( is your source for statewide happenings. BikeWalkLee’s blog site has all the information you’ll need to stay abreast of advocacy efforts in Southwest Florida as well as statewide and nationally.

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