Pinellas County has miles of beautiful multi-purpose paved trails for bike riders. In addition, many roads have designated bicycle lanes to make your recreational ride or commute safer. With the warm weather here, more bikes are on our roads. As a bicyclist you must take measures to have a safer ride. And as a driver you need to be aware of a bicyclist’s vulnerability. May is National Bike Month, and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) wants you to enjoy your ride safely.

As a bike rider:

Bike riders and passengers under 16 are required to wear a helmet – but it is a good idea for ALL bike riders. Of all bike fatalities in Florida, 40 percent are from traumatic brain injuries. The helmet must be worn properly to be effective: low on the forehead and strapped snugly under the chin.

When you are riding in the road you must obey all traffic control devices, just like cars. Stay in marked lanes, obey lights and stop signs, and signal any turns. Always go in the same direction as traffic.

Florida law states that if you ride your bike at night, you need a headlight that is visible from 500 feet, and a taillight and reflector on the back that are visible from 600 feet.

Be alert – don’t wear headphones that prevent you from hearing traffic and other things around you. Florida statute prohibits operation of a vehicle while wearing headphones – remember, a bicycle counts as a vehicle when on the road. The exception is a headset used with a cell phone that only has sound in one ear.

Be visible and predictable. Don’t dart between vehicles or make maneuvers that a motorist can’t anticipate. Wear bright colors for visibility.

You can get a DUI on a bicycle. Aside from legal considerations, riding a bike while impaired puts you at greater risk for an accident. If you are too impaired to drive, you are too impaired to ride a bicycle. Call a friend, taxi, or utilize a ride share service. You may even be able to get a ride share that can transport your bike too. If not, lock it up and get it when you’re sober.

It is legal to ride a bike on the sidewalk, even if there is a bike lane available. When riding on the sidewalk, Pinellas Trail, or other path for pedestrians, wheels yield to feet. Let walkers and runners have the right of way. When passing someone who is on foot, give an audible signal, such as a bell, horn, or say, “Passing on your left.”

As a motorist:

Always be alert for bicyclists and other pedestrians. Slow down in high-pedestrian areas.

Drivers must give bicyclists at least three feet of clearance when passing or driving alongside of them.

Yield to bicyclists and other pedestrians entering crosswalks. Remember that all sides of an intersection are considered crosswalks, whether marked or not. Don’t pass a stopped vehicle at a crosswalk – the stopped car might obscure a pedestrian.

If you come to a turn when there is a bicycle in the bike lane, let them make their turn first.

Posted by Verliz Williams Thursday, May 4, 2023 8:36:00 AM

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