BikeWalkLee Column ‘Go Coastal’
The News-Press, December 17, 2020
by Ken Gooderham
Between the pandemic and the arrival of snowbirds, there probably are a lot of new cyclists taking to the roads and paths right now. If you are one of those, there are some rules you should know to keep you (and everyone else) safe.
- Helmets: Legally required for cyclists under age 16, but a good idea for everyone.
- Riding on the sidewalk: Allowed, but you have to abide by the rules for pedestrians AND yield the right of way to actual pedestrians while on the sidewalk (and everywhere else, of course).
- Riding in the roadway: Allowed. Bicycles are considered vehicles, giving them all the rights (like being on the road) and responsibilities (like abiding by all vehicular regulations when on the road) of motorized vehicles.
- Lighting your bike: Required between sunset and sunrise, with white lights in front and red in back. A good idea in general, especially if you will be riding in traffic (to make you more visible to drivers).
- Riding with headphones: Not allowed by state law, sorry.
- Obeying STOP signs and traffic signals: Yes to both. Some cyclists view STOP signs as suggestions and traffic signals as commands… but you do so at your own risk.
- Biking under the influence: Against the law. Also, no open containers… but you can’t be required to submit to a breath test (because a license isn’t required to operate a bike).
- Signaling a turn or stop: Hand signals required, but not continuously (since you need those hands to steer).
- Position on the roadway: In general, ride “as close as practicable” to the right, but there are a lot of exceptions. Worth reading up on those if you plan to ride on the road. Also, ride WITH traffic, whether on the roadway or an adjacent bike lane (assuming there’s one on both sides of the road).
- Where can I ride my electric bike? It’s complicated. The law says you can ride e-bikes anywhere regular bikes are allowed, but it also says only vehicles propelled by human power are allowed on a sidewalk or bike path. Bikes with electric helper motors are considered bicycles, but those with a gas motor are not… and whether you need a license may be tied to the brake horsepower of the motor. Local rules can override state regulations, so it also means you should check those out as well (particularly if you’re looking at an electric scooter rather than a bike).
If you want to find out more about state specifics, start at flbikelaw.org, the legal website of the Florida Bicycle Association. While you’re there, consider joining FBA as well… they do a lot of good work on behalf of cyclists statewide.
Here’s what is scheduled for organized running and biking events locally… but confirm with the organizers and be flexible in case conditions change and large-group activities are limited. Of course, wear a mask and act appropriate to your age, condition and medical concerns..
FORT MYERS TRACK CLUB (ftmyerstrackclub.com):
- Lazy Flamingo Half Marathon & 2-Person Relay, Sept. 17-Dec. 20 (virtual)
- Kiwanis Fort Myers Metro-McGregor BUG Chase Virtual 5K, Dec. 24-Jan. 23 (virtual)
- Strides for Education 5K, Feb. 6, 2021 (in-person and virtual)
GC RUNNERS (gcrunner.org):
- Naples Daily News Half Marathon, Saturday, Jan. 17 (in-person & virtual)
ELITE EVENTS (runeliteevents.com):
- Sarasota West Coast Half Marathon and 5K, Sunday, Dec. 20
- Venice Half Marathon and 5K, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021
- City of Palms Half Marathon and 5K, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021
- Paradise Coast Half Marathon and 5K, Saturday, March 27, 2021
- Publix Run to the Arts 5K run/walk – in person on Feb. 7, 2021, or virtual Jan. 30-Feb. 7 runsignup.com or runtothearts.com
The Caloosa Riders are offering member rides, but some are open to non-members (and it wouldn’t hurt you to join the club); check their ride calendar (caloosariders.org) for a description of the distance and speed, and to see if the ride is open to all.
SW Florida Critical Mass is offering their usual slate of family-friendly rides, although the NE Lee ride seems to be lacking a leader and thus is not on the calendar. The options are below, and you can check out their line-up online (www.meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/) for details and times.
- SW Florida Critical Mass ride, first Friday of the month. A family-friendly slow night ride through Fort Myers. Front and rear bike lights required. Helmet and lights required, meet in the parking lot at 2180 West First Street, Fort Myers.
- Sanibel Critical Mass night ride, second Tuesday of the month. Gathers at Jerry’s Shopping Center, 1700 Periwinkle Way, on Sanibel. Lights required, helmets recommended.
- NE Lee Critical Mass ride, third Friday of the month. Gather in the Winn Dixie parking lot on Palm Beach Blvd. about five miles east of the Interstate; gather at 7 p.m. and roll at 7:30 p.m. for a slow ride through Fort Myers Shores.
- Cape Coral Critical Mass ride, fourth Friday of the month. Gather at the Southwest Florida Military Museum parking lot at 4820 Leonard Street for a family-friendly night ride through the Cape; helmets and lights required.
- Saturday Morning Slow Roll, fourth Saturday of the month. Meet-up at 2160 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers. Recommended for inexperienced/young riders. Distance is 6 miles, includes group ride instruction.
If racing is not your thing but you’d like to support their return nonetheless, consider volunteering to help out at the few in-person offerings ahead. With Covid concerns still confining some of the usual volunteers, a few new helping hand would certainly be welcomed.