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Homesafety- July 2018


July 2018
Fun With Bikes
Sarasota-Manatee Bicycle Club Safety

 Sarasota-Manatee Bicycle Club prides itself in  being a safe riding bicycle club proven with a low number of bike accidents over the years.

However, SMBC does have a few minor incidents that will be mentioned every 6 months as reminders that we all need to continuously stay alert while riding.

In the first 6 months of 2018, SMBC had 5 reported accidents:


1. A rider started to take off from a stop sign and lost their balance and fell.

2. A rider hit the back wheel of the rider in front and went down when the front rider stopped without communication.

3. Riding on the Legacy Trail, a rider’s tire went off the trail, as they pulled their wheel back to the pavement they went down. The rider behind rode over the fallen rider and went down as  well.

4. In a fast pace line ride, the lead rider stood, chain came off and went over the handlebars and two other riders hit and went down, Lead went to the hospital and had a concussion, other two finished the ride.

5. Also, in a fast pace line ride, a rider hit something on the road and went over the handlebars.  No other riders went down. suffered a broken collarbone and had to have surgery.





Edge Riding is Not Safe Riding


The biggest challenge with new riders is an unwillingness to let go of an assumption: that edge riding is inevitable.

What’s edge riding?   An edge rider is riding as close to the edge of the road as possible. Riding on the right edge of the road, is doing what most people think is safe, but which has its own long list of crash hazards.
Cyclist riding too close to the edge, must think it is safer there because the road is empty and it is a road labeled for cars and bikes to share

Even though edge riding is at the root of some bicycle crashes, many can’t fathom the idea of not riding on the edge of the road.

This belief has many roots. One is that many people really still believe that overtaking motorists shouldn’t be inconvenienced in the slightest. There is usually room for a car to pass a bike safely if the biker is riding 3-4 feet from the edge. The car can go over the yellow line a bit to pass safely, some cars wait until there is room to pass safely.
It’s distressing how many bicyclists cling to this notion.

Cyclist and car both riding the road appropriately and safely.
Cyclist is  a foot or two away from the edge and the car is going over the yellow line to give the him 3-feet

There is a LAW that helps with cyclists not having to ride on the edge of the road.

(5)(a)Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride in the lane marked for bicycle use or, if no lane is marked for bicycle use, as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:

1.When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.

2.When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.

3.When reasonably necessary to avoid any condition or potential conflict, including, but not limited to, a fixed or moving object, parked or moving vehicle, bicycle, pedestrian, animal, surface hazard, turn lane, or substandard-width lane, which makes it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge or within a bicycle lane. For the purposes of this subsection, a “substandard-width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.

(b)Any person operating a bicycle upon a one-way highway with two or more marked traffic lanes may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of such roadway as practicable.

So what do you do?

The recommendation is to ride a distance of about 3 feet out of the curb to avoid debris and also create a buffer zone between you and the curb itself. Command the lane and be confident doing so. Riding close to the curb promotes drivers to try to squeeze through.

Cyclist correctly riding 3 feet from the edge

Cyclist should have taken the lane here, car squeezed past him and he went down.

A cyclist on a road must ride as near as practicable to the far right side of the road. However riding close to the gutter isn’t “practicable” for a number of reasons. There’s often more debris and drain covers closer to the edge of the road and, perhaps more importantly, riding close to the curb gives you less bail-out room if a motorist gets too close.


On a one way street, if there is not much room on the right side, so where should you ride?



safety edge






To help avoid cars pushing Cyclists to close to edge of the road,

As of March 2018, 30 states have enacted 3-feet passing laws. 

The penalty for violating the 3 foot Law in the state of Florida is a civil penalty typically entailing a monetary fine. The law requires motorists, who are passing the slower moving cyclist, to give the cyclist a cushion of safety of at least 3 feet between the vehicle and the bicycle.


Florida 3-Foot Law


s. 316.083 – Overtaking and Passing a Vehicle

(1)…. The driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle must pass the bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle at a safe distance of not less than 3 feet between the vehicle and the bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle.


Florida 3 Foot Law Not Being Enforced


Bicycling advocates in Florida celebrated when our 3 foot law was passed and became law.  But in many ways, the Florida 3 foot law’s potential benefit has not been helpful yet by its lack of enforcement. At the very least, the law seems to be enforced selectively – certain Florida counties issue many more citations than other counties. 

If a driver hits a bicyclist in a bicycle lane or towards the side of the road, the driver most likely will be at fault for the accident and should be issued a traffic citation. 

So How do you enforce the 3-foot Law


The "Vulnerable Road User" concept is a new and powerful tool — and it's taking root throughout the country.

9 states have laws that define a vulnerable user or vulnerable road user and provide stronger penalties for actions towards those vulnerable road users or when violations of traffic law lead to the serious injury or death of a vulnerable road user – Florida is not one of the nine.


A vulnerable road user (VRU) is anyone who is on or alongside a roadway without the protective hard covering of a metal automobile. The term includes bicycle riders, pedestrians, motorcyclists, people in wheelchairs, police, first responders, roadway workers and other users like a person on a skateboard or scooter. 

The term is commonly used in relation to the argument state laws need to give sentencing judges more ability to up the punishment imposed on a driver who injures a vulnerable road user. Florida currently has no such law. 

It is very common for a driver who kills or seriously injures a VRU to just be given a ticket for careless driving. 

Many groups are working to have the Legislature pass a Vulnerable Road User law to give Florida judges the ability to impose jail time and increased fines in these cases where they are cited with only a moving violation.

Example of the Vunerable User Law:



Section 1: As used herein, the term “vulnerable road user” includes:

 a person lawfully operating or riding any of the following on a public right-of-way, crosswalk, or shoulder of the highway:

  1. A Pedestrian
  2. a bicycle
  3. A farm tractor 
  4. A skateboard
  5. A scooter
  6. A moped
  7. A motorcycle
  8. An electric personal assistive mobility device
  9. A wheelchair.

Section 2:

A person who operates a motor vehicle in a careless or distracted manner and causes serious physical injury or death to a vulnerable road user shall be guilty of infliction of serious physical injury or death to a vulnerable road user.

A person found to have committed an offense under this statute shall be required to either:

(a)   have his or her driving privileged suspended for a period of no less than 6 months; and one or more of the following:

(1) pay a monetary penalty of not more than two thousand dollars; and/or

(2) serve a period of incarceration which may not exceed thirty days; and/or

(3) participate in a motor vehicle accident prevention course; and/or

(4) perform community service for a number of hours to be determined by the court, which may not exceed two hundred hours.


Why should you care?

The vast majority of VRU laws provide for increased fines or civil liability in cases where a vulnerable road user is injured or killed because of negligence or as the result of a traffic violation. These laws provide an incentive for safer driving practices, especially around cyclists and pedestrians.