As renters and seasonal residents enjoy all that The Villages has to offer, this is a simple reminder that you will encounter many bicyclists traveling the roadways.
State and federal laws support the rights of cyclists by granting them the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles. This includes the right to safely use roadways.
Many Floridians have the belief that a cyclist on the roadway must proceed in the right travel lane as far right as possible. The law actually states “as close as practicable (safe) to the right.” It is safer on the more traveled boulevards (Morse, Buena Vista, El Camino) for a bicyclist to be in the right wheel rut which is about 2 to 3 feet away from the solid white line at the edge of the road. This discourages motorists from “sharing” the 11 foot lane. There is not enough room for a moving bicycle (3 feet), the mandated 3 foot minimum passing distance and an automobile in Florida’s 11 foot lanes.
With traffic safety in mind, the bicycle clubs in The Villages have adopted the same set of rules for all cyclists joining our rides:
Every cyclist must wear a helmet, have a rear facing mirror, carry hydration and are strongly encouraged to display a rear facing bright red blinking light.
Each ride is broken up into sections.
Each section is separated by at least 50 feet.
There is a leader and a sweep for each section.
No more than 8 cyclists in a section unless there are 10 or less cyclists on the entire ride.
Stop at red lights, stop signs and yield to traffic already in the roundabouts.
Move to the left lane before making a left turn.
Use hand signals for turns and stops, point out road debris, and call out safety commands.
In addition to the above rules, many cyclists have mounted light/camera combinations on their bike. I have them pointing both front and back. These cameras document both my riding and the activity of the traffic around me.
Here is what a close pass (much less than 3 feet) looks like when you are riding a bike on Morse Blvd. traveling at about 16 miles per hour: Close Pass on Morse Blvd
Many motorists believe that bicycles do not belong on the roads because cars are bigger and therefore a danger. Given that logic and the size of semi-trucks… should cars and golf carts be limited to residential streets?
We in the bicycling community are working to educate ourselves on the rules and regulations of law and our behavior when we ride. We seek continued health, which is a result of safety. Unfortunately some bicyclists will always break the rules, just as motorists do. Our goal is to make sure that every driver of every kind of vehicle that shares the roads knows the rules so they will be less likely to break them.
Villager Dave Lawrence is director of safety for the Sumter Landing Bicycle Club.