The roads of Lake Nona have become a popular destination for road cyclists. On any given Saturday or Sunday morning, and even on some weekdays, you can see bicyclists of all ages and abilities riding in bicycle lanes on streets such as Narcoossee Road, Tavistock Lakes Boulevard, Dowden Road and Lake Nona Boulevard. Some like to ride solo, while others prefer riding in a group as a single-file pace line or two-abreast in the right lane or right side of the road. Some like to ride leisurely for only a few miles while others prefer to hammer at fast speeds for 20 or 30 miles or more, roundtrip routes to St. Cloud or Isle of Pines Preserve. Whatever your riding style, bicyclists and drivers in Lake Nona need to be aware of each other and know how to properly share the road. This is as important in our community as it is throughout the rest of the state because Florida recorded the highest number of bicycle fatalities of any state in the nation in 2015.
This statistic is a significant reason why the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) recognizes National Bicycle Safety Awareness Month with its Share the Road safety campaign during May. A bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle and has all privileges, rights and responsibilities on public roads (except for expressways) that a motor vehicle operator does. Florida law gives bicyclists a minimum of three feet of clearance on the right side of the road when a motor vehicle is driving alongside or passing. Drivers should always be looking for bicyclists, who are often hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot due to their smaller size and can be missed during a quick look both ways when entering an intersection or exiting a driveway. It’s equally important for bicyclists to stay alert and be on the lookout not only for motor vehicles, but also for each other. Motorists are reminded not to use high-beam headlights when a bicyclist is approaching. Drivers should yield to any bicyclist in the bike lane when turning and always make the turn behind the rider. They also should glance back to check for bicyclists approaching from behind before opening the door of a parked car.
While Florida law protects bicyclists, it also sets their responsibilities. Bicyclists must use directional hand signals to indicate turns or stops, always obey traffic signals and come to a complete stop at stop signs and red lights. When traveling under the speed of other traffic, bicyclists must use a bike lane. If no bike lane is present, riders must stay on the rightmost side of the road. Bicyclists may use the full lane when making a left turn. If the lane is too narrow to share safely with a motor vehicle, bicycle riders should avoid passing other riders and motor vehicles proceeding in the same direction. In addition, bicyclists may not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Persons riding two abreast may not impede traffic when traveling at less than the normal speed of traffic. When riding a bicycle between sunset and sunrise, you must have a white light visible from 500 feet on the front of your bicycle and a red reflector and a red light visible from 600 feet on the rear.
Bicyclists riding on a sidewalk, or across a roadway on a crosswalk, have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances. To stay alert, listening is just as important as looking. In many cases, a rider will hear an oncoming motor vehicle before seeing it, especially when it approaches from the rear. Although not prohibited by law, bicyclists should never listen to music while wearing headphones or earbuds, not even with one earbud in and one out. Never ride a bicycle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. All bicycle riders and passengers under the age of 16 are required to wear a bicycle helmet that is properly fitted and fastened securely on the passenger’s head by a strap. The bicycle helmet must meet the federal safety standard for bicycle helmets, final rule, 16 C.F.R. part 1203. This includes children riding in a child seat or carrier attached to the bicycle, or in a trailer attached to the bicycle.
Do you like to cycle? Join the Nona Cycle group for weekly rides: http://nonahood.to/nonacycle