Games People Play
A bicycle is defined as a vehicle [FL Statute 316.003(2)] for purposes of the Uniform Traffic Control Law. A person in control of a vehicle on a street or highway is a driver [FL Statute 316.003(1)]. As a driver, a cyclist must follow the traffic rules common to all drivers. As the driver of a bicycle, he/she must also obey rules adopted specially for bicycles. A cyclist has all the rights to the roadway applicable to any driver, except as to the special regulations for bicycles [FL Statute 316.2065(1)]. – Florida Bicycle Law Enforcement Guide, page 6.
Same rules, same rights. That’s the deal. So why does it feel like “Let’s Make a Deal” when it comes to bicycle education?
I can ride about 8 miles in my neighborhood and encounter all kinds of things from a horse farm to an eagle nest, a city park to a city beach and a water treatment facility to Tampa Bay. It’s a great ride and enjoyed by numerous residents and visitors, a few of which decide to ride against traffic. You are reading that correctly, there are a few people on bicycles who choose to ride against traffic.
I have let this go for years because quite honestly, these are small neighborhood roads with no lane markings. However, there is this one road, Lafayette Boulevard, which is a wide, divided roadway with a shoulder.
I’ll say it again, Lafayette Boulevard is a wide, divided roadway with a shoulder. Well, this morning, on this very road, I see someone riding their bicycle the wrong way and heading right towards me. Today, I decided it was time to stop letting it go and flag the person down. Today I decided it was time to ask the question. The person stopped and after they removed their headset, I asked why were they riding the wrong way. The answer: I’m comfortable riding into traffic and have been doing so for 22 years.
Well, even I know, that’s not the deal! But I also know that it’s hard to make a deal when there are 22 years of “proven success” in doing something wrong. Sure, I shared some statistics and general insights, but for this person, bicycle education and traffic law have no place in 22 years of bad behavior.
I saw the person again, as I was ending my ride, when I made a right turn onto State Street from Lafayette and there they were, on the wrong side of the road, darting to the right to get out of my path. Thankfully, there was no additional traffic on the road, especially from behind them, or that dart may have been death.
To play “Let’s Make a Deal” with traffic law, to play the odds that ‘curtain one, two or three’ of bad behavior will have favorable outcomes is a risk no one should be taking on public roads. I know that and I’m sure you do as well. So how do we reach and educate those with bad cycling habits to trade up to ride right?
Do you have a bicycle story to tell? Photos to share? Be our guest and be our next guest blogger! Send your story and photos to Becky@floridabicycle.org. Speaking of stories, our quarterly Messenger newsletter is available online for your internet reading pleasure. Visit the FBA website Home page or click here.