With more bicyclists out, getting exercise and a respite from sheltering in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, the St. Pete Bike Club offers these safety tips. Check back frequently as we’ll cover a number of issues, including:
- The basics
- The law
- Riding on the roads
- Riding on trails and segregated bike lanes
- Lane positioning
- How to take charge
- Safety check your bike
Today's topic: Bicycle Laws
When riding your bike, it’s important to follow the law for three reasons:
- You’ll be safer
- You’ll avoid a ticket
- You’ll help gain the respect of motorists
Key points to bicycle law:
- You have the same rights and responsibilities to follow the law as do motorists. With few exceptions, you must obey the same laws. You also have the same right to use the road.
- You should be as far to the right “as practicable,” but there are several key exceptions that mean for the most part, you needn’t be as far to the right as possible. Exceptions include:
- When there is debris or unsafe road surface to the right that makes riding to the right side of the lane unsafe.
- When the lane is too narrow to share. However, the law doesn’t define what is too narrow for a bike and another vehicle to travel in the same lane. The only guidance we have is from the Florida Dept. of Transportation that states in its road design manual that anything less than 14 feet wide is too narrow. Why? A bike needs 4 feet of operating space; cars must pass at least 3 feet from a cyclist; and a typical car is 7 feet wide. However, there is no case law that confirms this. Width of a lane is measure between the lane lines, not to the gutter. Most travel lanes in St. Pete are 10-12 feet wide, meaning they are too narrow to share. But a judge may have a different opinion, and his or hers count.
- When on a road with a bike lane, you are required to be in it, unless it is unsafe to do so. The law again says you needn’t be in a bike lane if road conditions make it unsafe. Also, it’s important to note that the bike lane must be marked as such with a stencil on the road surface. Many roads in Pinellas County have shoulders marked by a lane line. You are NOT required to ride in the shoulder.
- When there is a bike trail or segregated bike lane, you are not required to be in it. You may ride in the travel lane next to a segregated bike trail.
- You must travel in the direction of traffic—no exceptions.
- You must have front and rear lights at night.
- You may not ride more than two abreast in travel lanes, and if you do, you must not “impede” traffic. But no case law has ever defined what “impede” means. You may travel more than two abreast on bike trails.
- You must have working brakes that can stop a bike within 25 feet when going 10 mph.
- A bicyclist under the age of 16 must wear a helmet.
- Just like cars, you must stop at stop signs. Most police officers want to see, foremost, that cyclists yield the right of way, meaning if a car is at an intersection before you, you should yield the right of way. They also want to see that you slow sufficiently to see other vehicles approaching the intersection. However, if you don’t come to a full stop, you may be ticketed.
Never litigate with a police officer. If you are stopped and issued a ticket, even if you think the officer is wrong, don’t argue. If you like, take it to court.
The Florida statue regulating bicycle riding is here: http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0300-0399/0316/Sections/0316.2065.html.
ALL SPBC GROUP RIDES AND EVENTS POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.
Updated March 15, 2020, 12:30 PM
In light of the recent decision by USA Cycling to suspend all event permits and its recommendation to cancel all events including group rides (see image below for USA Cycling's full statement), the SPBC Board of Directors has decided to postpone the Club's participation in the Saturday morning rides and other events until further notice. The board also recommends that all other "Show 'N Go" rides be discontinued.
I believe I speak for the entire board when I say this decision was easily the most difficult decision we have ever made for the Club and we hope everyone understands that we are now in uncharted territory. We will continue to monitor the situation and will restore the Saturday morning rides as soon as it is prudent to do so.
While the board does not recommend continuing any form of group rides, your decision to participate in any rides other than solo rides should depend on your overall health, age and comfort level with the situation. Don’t let anyone pressure you into a decision you are not comfortable with. If you should make the personal decision to continue riding with others, please follow the precautions below.
There is no need to list the standard precautions (www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html), but we want to emphasize the do's and don't's during rides with others.
If you are not feeling well, even if you think it is allergies, please ride solo or stay home. Just regular coughing may alarm the other riders.
Please refrain from shaking hands and hugging or touching your friends or their equipment.
Leave a little larger gap to the rider in front of you if possible.
If you need to spit, blow your nose, sneeze or cough, please check to be sure you are clear, signal, and move out of the pace line (left whenever possible). This may require asking a rider along side you to give you room. Most of all, make sure there is no one behind you. We realize it is allergy season, but please do your best. Cough into your elbow if you can’t get out of line in time.
Wash your kit including gloves and helmet pads after every ride. Wipe with alcohol or spray with a disinfectant for items that can’t go in the washer. Disinfect your handlebars and saddle often.
Many rides and events are being cancelled. We will create a list and try to keep it up to date.
As shown the constantly changing sport and event schedules, this is a very dynamic situation and may change on short notice. Please check the club website and Facebook page for the latest updates .
May you and your family stay safe and healthy during these trying times.
For the SPBC Board of Directors,
St. Petersburg Bicycle Club
The St. Petersburg Bicycle Club
Florida's #1 bicycle club was established in 1968. The St. Petersburg Bicycle Club, Inc. is a non-profit, social and recreational club that exists to promote safe, satisfying bicycling opportunities to both club members and the general public of all ages and skill levels, through planned activities and events.
See Rides Page for other rides
Congratulations to Gina Hubany & Bryan Schmick,
the St. Petersburg Bicycle Club 2019
Volunteers of the Year
with Peter Wray, whose life they saved.
Gina also donated a kidney. Quite a year!
Looking to get started cycling--safely?
Here are the basics
Watch this video for lane positioning
New to Group Riding? Here's how
and specifically about our group rides
Why become a member?
It's about quality of life, and these words from one SPBC member express the quality we share as a family of riders.
After nearly 40 years of riding in other parts of the country I never had ridden with groups much. I guess those few times I had I did not feel particularly welcomed.
When I first moved to Florida a couple of years ago, I joined the St. Pete Bike Club not so much to ride but to meet people. The best way to do that was to join the daily group rides and the coffee klatch afterwards. But I fully intended to return to solo riding once I met some folks.
I was not a particularly strong rider, but that didn't concern those I rode with. They were helpful, supportive and non-judgmental. I learned a lot. And there were plenty of opportunities to push myself. I also found that group riding seemed safer. It's hard for motorists not to notice anywhere from five to 50 cyclists riding together.
SPBC also was welcoming to new ideas and passionate about safety and advocating for riders, so I know with my small membership dues I'd have a chance to contribute as well as benefit.
Soon the idea of returning to solo riding was behind me. I enjoy the camaraderie both during and after the rides. That coffee klatch is now part of my daily routine (and isn't it great that this can be done outdoors year around!)
Why wouldn't YOU want to be a part of such a great group?