A refresher for residents.
(Written by Jodi Walborn, Co-Lead for Worksites and Policy, Blue Zones Project with input from Mark Russet ECCL’s Co-Chair of the Safety and Transportation Council)
Safety is a quintessential issue for the ECCL. Endeavoring to keep residents safe in the greater Estero area is a primary objective of the ECCL’s Safety Council. Cyclists are, unfortunately, a vulnerable group of road users, and like other road users, they too should be aware of all the latest information to help reduce the risk of accidents occurring.
Bike riding is a means of transportation, exercise, recreation, and fun in the Sunshine State all year round. When riding a bike, there are several laws you should know and some things to be aware of to stay safe. But many are not familiar with or have forgotten bike laws and safe practices.
The first is that a bike is classified as a vehicle and must follow every law that other vehicles do. This means:
Follow the Rules
Obey all traffic signage and lights. If there is a stop sign or red light, you must stop and wait until it is safe to continue your journey.
Go with the flow
Ride on the right side of the road WITH the flow of traffic. Riding the wrong way against traffic increases the chance of a crash because the rider has less time to see oncoming cars, and the oncoming cars have less time to see the cyclist. It also increases the chances of severe injury or death due to head-on collisions.
Stay right in your lane
Cyclists have the right to take the lane if there is no bike lane. If there is no bike lane, cyclists may take the whole traffic lane and ride two abreast. The law states that a cyclist must ride “as far right as is practicable.” For the cyclists’ safety, riding against the curb limits maneuverability around obstacles and increases the potential of getting hit by a car passing too close. Courtesy dictates that the cyclist move over to allow cars to pass safely.
use bike lanes
If there is a bike lane, cyclists must be in it, going with traffic flow. They may leave the lane when passing another cyclist; there is road debris, changing lanes to turn, or whenever being in that lane poses a hazard to the cyclist.
Cyclists may ride on the sidewalks where local law permits but must yield to all pedestrians. The best practice is always to ride slow enough to safely stop for pedestrians and watch for cars entering or exiting driveways. Cars may not always see or stop in time for people on sidewalks.
Cyclists crossing the streets on a crosswalk must obey the signage and signals. Always stop, look, and listen before crossing and communicate with other drivers on the road before crossing. Make eye contact, wave, gesture, or point, and wait for a response. If the driver doesn’t respond, they may not see the cyclist or wait for them to cross safely.
Cyclists must announce passing another person through either a horn, a bell, or their voice. “Passing on your left” is the standard. Make it more friendly and add a “Good Morning!”
Before changing lanes, a cyclist should always scan for cars from behind and signal their intent to change lanes.
Cyclists should always signal at least 100ft before turning or stopping.
There are many other critical issues for those cycling to consider. Every bike must have a white light on the front visible from 500 feet and a red light on the rear visible from 600 feet from dusk until dawn. It is illegal to wear any earbuds or headphones while riding a bike. Not surprisingly, a bike is built to carry only as many as it has seats for and no more!
It is a regulation that every bike rider under the age of 16 must wear a properly fitted and fastened helmet, but it is encouraged for riders of all ages to wear helmets. Wearing a helmet is especially important for children. Unfortunately, there have been too many fatalities when a cyclist has fallen off a bike and struck their unprotected head on the curb or another sharp object. This type of fatality can and should be avoided.
Future Bike Routes
Cycling has become an enjoyable recreational activity for many families aside from the interest in bike clubs that encourage groups to cycle together, often over several miles. The Estero Village Council is committed to enhancing the opportunities for residents to cycle in safety on many more of our roadways which involves connectivity plans.
Estero Village Council focuses on creating cyclist and pedestrian-friendly roads in the growing network of multi-use paths in the village. For example, at Williams Road east of US 41, an improvement costing $4.1 million is in the works to create a safe path for bikes and pedestrians. This improvement will also enhance other roads in the village, such as River Ranch and Via Coconut.
In addition, the US Bicycle Route System is developing a national network of bicycle routes connecting urban and rural communities via signed roads and trails. The route is currently in 31 states and is proposed to include over 50,000 miles when complete. The non-profit organization asks local communities to recognize the proposed route and support the State Department of Transportation.
The proposed route in Lee County enters on US 41 from the north then proceeds as follows:
Bus. US 41/N. Tamiami Trail, then across Edison Bridge, from bridge onto Edwards Dr., Hendry St., Union St., Central Ave, Winkler Ave, Evans Ave., Colonial Blvd/FL 884, John Yarbrough Linear Park Trail, Daniels Pkwy, Treeline Ave., Ben Hill Griffin Pkwy., Estero Pkwy., Three Oaks Pkwy, Imperial Pkwy.
Fort Myers and Bonita Springs have endorsed the route that crosses their jurisdictions.
The ECCL endorses and supports these initiatives. The ECCL’s Safety Council consults with the Village Council to assist wherever possible in the planning process to identify any safety concerns that might arise.