Highway security invoice for bikes is well timed for Florida
One of many least-noticed visitors legal guidelines on the freeway is the one that claims that when passing a bicycle, a driver should keep no less than 3 ft away from a bicycle.
I can personally vouch for vehicles routinely passing me so shut I can really feel myself pulled into their airflow. A scary feeling.
Getting hit from behind is one thing each bike owner worries about. It is a hazard you’ll be able to’t see coming. Even very practiced riders. Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood was knocked off his bike last month by a automotive passing so shut the passenger-side rearview mirror hit him within the again. (The driving force instructed police she was her telephone, procuring on-line and did not discover the sheriff.)
The 3-foot rule grew to become legislation in 2006. It says vehicles ought to go away “a protected distance of not lower than three ft between the car and the bicycle or different nonmotorized car.” Earlier than, the legislation stated solely that vehicles ought to “move safely,” and who knew what that meant?
This appeared like an enchancment, but someway being particular about passing distance did not assist a lot. The legislation is all however ignored. In all of Florida, solely 68 citations had been issued for violations final yr (with prices dropped in 9 of these circumstances). No citations had been issued final yr in Volusia, Flagler or St. Johns counties, based on the Florida Division of Freeway Security and Motor Automobiles.
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However a invoice handed unanimously by the state Senate on Wednesday (SB 950) would strengthen and make clear the 3-foot rule. In the event you’re driving behind a bicycle — additionally electrical bikes and scooters, issues which can be turning into extra frequent on the roads now — it’s worthwhile to move at a protected distance, not lower than 3 ft. That goes for passing pedestrians, too. If you do not have room to move safely, you will simply want to remain a protected distance behind the bike owner and move solely when you are able to do so at greater than 3 ft. The invoice additionally clarifies and updates the principles round bicycle lanes.
The invoice mandates the Division of Freeway Security and Motor Automobiles undertake annual public consciousness campaigns to let drivers understand how they need to drive round individuals strolling by the street and cyclists biking on the street. It could even put extra questions on pedestrian and bike owner security on driver’s license assessments. Small issues, however they make drivers extra conscious that not every thing on the street is a automotive or truck.
Florida’s drawback with automotive crashes
Florida has an issue with automotive crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists. Like California, we’re a car-centric, car-culture sort of place. Anything on the street — bikes, bikes, individuals — tends to be a shock.
Final yr, 161 cyclists died on Florida roadways, six of them in Volusia County. Florida routinely ranks first because the state with essentially the most cycle fatalities per capita. As for pedestrians, a biannual report from traffic safety groups launched final month rated Florida essentially the most harmful state based on their Pedestrian Hazard Index. The “Harmful by Design” report rated the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford metropolitan statistical space ranked No. 1 within the nation for being a harmful place to stroll and the Deltona-Daytona Seaside-Ormond Seaside space (which, regardless of its title, contains Flagler County) ranked No. 5.
This invoice represents a bit progress in a state that sees manner too many cycle deaths and accidents. It brings welcome new consideration at simply the time when extra cyclists are taking to the streets.
A pandemic biking boom has been taking place for greater than a yr now. Drop by any bike store they usually’ll let you know they’d simply the bike you might be searching for three weeks in the past and every thing’s on back-order. You possibly can see extra riders on the paths, streets and sidewalks in case you search for them. And actually, it’s worthwhile to be searching for them. Put down the cellphone and search for them.
And provides them room whenever you move. Go into the subsequent lane in case you can. How laborious is that?