Tuesday’s Miami Herald “Reader’s Forum” featured a letter to the editor that was given the special treatment of a bold heading, Cycling safety, and a picture, ‘Bike lanes have been added to Coral Way in Miami.’ In this letter, a Miami resident rightly comments that more people will be riding bicycling on the weekends now that our cool weather has arrived, some of whom will put themselves at risk by running traffic lights. All true.
However, I think that the real key to ‘Cycling safety’ is that everyone who uses the roads in South Florida understands that more people are bicycling (and driving and walking here) everyday and that we all will be safer if everyone learns the law and follows the rules.
Thanks to the Miami Herald for printing my letter this morning, which highlights some of the traffic laws you report to find most often disregarded and unenforced:
With the increase in bicycle facilities and a growing trend toward healthy, environmentally-sensitive transportation, we will see an increase in the number of people bicycling everyday.
It is important to remind people who drive and ride that Florida traffic laws require sharing the road and sometimes, though less often, sharing traffic lanes. People in cars are required to pass those on bicycles with a minimum of 3 feet. Cyclists are expected to drive within the middle of traffic lanes under 14 feet wide and motorists are expected to change lanes to pass. Everyone is required to moderate speed behind slower moving traffic, to come to a complete stop at red lights – even in a right turn lane, and to remember that a horn’s purpose is not to warn others because you are about to break one of the above laws.
Safe, predictable and attentive driving saves lives (including mine) everyday.
While we have sent letters to the editor in the past without success, I hope that those of you reading this will be motivated to respond whenever your local media outlet publishes a piece that is biased, incorrect or simply doesn’t tell the whole story. It is important that you respond directly, as soon as possible and that you follow whatever requested guidelines of the publisher. If we can be of help, let us know. If it is not published, why not share it here so that others might be use excerpts in writing to their own newspapers, magazines and local news stations?
The South Florida Bike Coalition is working hard to get more coverage of bicycling – as a form of transportation, a great sport and a growing activitiy – in the news. If you have found a great piece somewhere, please let us know so that we can thank the news outlet, too. We are dedicated to working with you and the media, everyday, to improve and increase bicycling from Miami-Dade to Port St. Lucie.
Notes: For a full explanation of Florida state traffic laws as they pertain specifically to people using bicycles, please visit http://www.floridabicycle.org/rules/bikelaw.html