BikeWalkLee Column ‘Go Coastal’
The News-Press, October 07, 2021
by Ken Gooderham
Last time, we addressed how to survive a bike crash. This time, let’s discuss how to avoid one.
Since as a cyclist the only thing you can actually control is yourself (and, of course, your bike), the focus needs to be on things you can do to stay safer… such as:
- Be visible. In traffic the last thing you want to do is blend in. Wear bright colors, have flashing lights… whatever it takes to be seen by drivers. (Oh, and wear a helmet.) Be predictable. Ride steady and straight, don’t swerve into another vehicle’s path or ignore a traffic signal or rule of the road. You’re a vehicle, too, so act like one.
- Be aware. Pay attention to what’s going on around you (so no cell phones) and use all your senses – meaning no earphones (it’s the law).
- Be in charge. Don’t assume the other guy will stop in time or stay out of your way. If something goes awry, stop and wait for things to clear up.
- Be friendly. Wave at motorists who do the right thing. Make eye contact with drivers so you know they see you.
- Be smart. If someone is driving or acting like a jerk, don’t engage them and give them a wide berth. You need to be the bigger person since they’re operating the bigger vehicle.
- Be one of many: Ride in a group, if that’s possible or preferred… but ride where there are other cyclists. The more drivers see cyclists, the more they pay attention to them… and that’s good for everyone.
Simply put, bike like your life depends on it – because it does. You probably can’t avoid every single potential crash, but smart and safe cycling usually gets you through most of them intact.
That doesn’t mean to ride timidly, but to bike defensively. Assume the worst, be surprised by the best – but be ready for anything.
It’s also smart for cyclists to take charge of uncertain situations – which may mean stopping in a safe spot until the car craziness moves on down the road. Use hand signals to let other vehicles know your intentions. Don’t run stop signs assuming other traffic can and will stop for you. Ride with traffic (it’s smart AND it’s the law).
Also, know your strengths and weaknesses. If you’re not comfortable riding in traffic – don’t. If your skills are little rusty or your pace a little slow, ride where you feel safe. (If you want to sharpen those skills, consider looking into a skills course such as Cycling Savvy (https://cyclingsavvy.org/) or working with a more skilled rider who’s willing to show you how to be a better biker.)
Justice isn’t served
Speaking of crashes, the next time you think cyclists are feeling a little too persecuted… remember this:
Recent news reports detailed a Fort Myers woman being sentenced for drunk driving… specifically a March 2020 incident where her vehicle crossed a shopping center parking lot and crashed into a curb, after which she refused sobriety tests, was abusive to police officers, smelled “strongly” of alcohol and had in her possession a crack pipe.
After being released on bond, she was then involved in a crash in May 2020 where a cyclist was killed. The incident took place in a quiet and narrow two-lane road. She entered a “no contest” plea and was found guilty.
The drunk driving charge earned her a year in county jail. For killing a cyclist, she received a six-month suspended sentence, a $1,000 fine and community service.
Does that seem fair to you?
October brings with it more organized events… and, so we’re told, cooler weather. Enjoy the former while you wait for the latter. (To be safe, confirm that scheduled events are being held as planned before you show up.)
FORT MYERS TRACK CLUB (ftmyerstrackclub.com):
- Cops & Joggers 5K, Saturday, Oct. 9, 7:45 p.m., downtown Fort Myers
- 10K Race for F.I.S.H., Saturday, Oct. 23, Sanibel Island. In-person and virtual
- Midpoint Madness 5K, Thursday, Nov. 11, 7 p.m., Midpoint Bridge, Fort Myers
- Turkey Trot, Thursday, Nov. 25, details TK
GC RUNNERS (gcrunner.org):
- Gulf to Gulf 80-mile relay, Saturday, Oct. 23, starts and ends at Cambier Park, Naples
- GCR Halloween Monster 5K, Saturday, Oct. 30, 7:30 a.m., Fleischmann Park, Naples
- Olde Naples 10K, Saturday, Nov. 13, 7:30 a.m.
- 2021 GCR Thanksgiving 5K, Thursday, Nov. 25, 7:30 a.m. Cambier Park, Naples and virtual
ELITE EVENTS (runeliteevents.com):
- Naples Rocktoberfest 10K & 5K, Saturday, Oct. 16, North Collier Regional Park, Naples
- Naples Distance Classic Half Marathon, 18K & 5K, Saturday, Nov. 13, Eagle Lakes Park, Naples
Day 5K (two races), Thursday, Oct. 25, Hertz Arena in Estero and The
Village Shops on Venetian Bay, Naples. 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m.
- Average Joe 5K Run (where the person who finishes in the middle wins, along with overall and age group winners), Saturday, Oct. 9, North Collier Regional Park (active.com).
- LRC Hams & Gams 5K Turkey Trot, Saturday Nov. 13, Hendry Complex, LaBelle (active.com)
- Publix Run to the Arts 5K run/walk, Nov. 20, downtown Fort Myers runsignup.com or runtothearts.com
- Tour de North Port, Sunday, Oct. 24, 15-, 35- and 65-mile routes, staggered start beginning at 8 a.m., full support and lunch (https://runsignup.com/tourdenorthport)
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. Check out their line-up online (www.meetup.com/Biking-SWFL/events/) for details and times (and to make sure the ride is still rolling).
- 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 Saturday 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..
- St. Anthony’s Triathlon (St. Petersburg) has been rescheduled again, now to May 1, 2022, Olympic and sprint
- City Island Triathlon, Oct. 10, Sarasota
- Spa Girl Tri, Nov. 13, Marco Island, sprint
- Manasota Key Tri, Nov. 14, Englewood, sprint
- Over The Hill Tri, Nov. 14, Venice, sprint
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