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  1. #1
    Senior Member John_V's Avatar
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    Not a good time to ride in the Tampa Bay area.

    A year ago this past October, several riding clubs in this area got together to do a memorial ride in remembrance of eight cyclist that that were killed in the five county, Tampa Bay area in a period of five months. It looks as if we are going to have to do it again. We have had three bicycle related fatalities in the past three days. All three occurred at night or early morning. Two were hit and run (one of those was a DUI) on country roads and the third was the cyclist with no lights or reflectors, crossing a major intersection in the path of an oncoming vehicle.

    Even with all the improvements the city and county is trying to do in order to make cycling safer in this area, it just doesn't seem as if anyone is paying attention. My thoughts go out to the families of the cyclists who are not having a very Merry Christmas this year.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Kurt Erlenbach's Avatar
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    Agreed.

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    I AM truly sorry to hear that. Condolences to families/loved ones, and a huge BURN IN HELL for the hit & run drivers.

    Lately, I can't seem to help it -- I'm getting more and more militantly anti-car; my town has been largely bike-friendly over the past couple years, yet I see stupid stuff EVERY DAY (and this time of year, I'm not out much!), and I question how much worse it's gonna get.

    Oh, well, what can you do; John_V, consider your next memorial ride accompanied in spirit by a cranky Clydesdale....

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    Condolences to the families.

    Like was posted above I am getting more outspoken about reckless driving. But, in my case I include operators of both motor vehicles and cycles.
    It is better to smell the flowers than taste the roots.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Terex's Avatar
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    Florida, in total, my be the most dangerous place to drive in the U.S., let alone bike. I have relatives all around Tampa Bay, and there is no area there where I would feel comfortable riding a bike.
    "It could be anything. Scrap booking, high-stakes poker, or the Santa Fe lifestyle. Just pick a dead-end and chill out 'till you die."

  6. #6
    Senior Member TomD77's Avatar
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    Riding in the dark and traffic and and without lights? The last bike fatality we had where I live was on the busiest highway anywhere in the area at 10:30 on a Saturday night.

  7. #7
    Senior Member John_V's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by terex
    Florida, in total, my be the most dangerous place to drive in the U.S., let alone bike. I have relatives all around Tampa Bay, and there is no area there where I would feel comfortable riding a bike.
    Florida has had a problem with drivers for as long as I can remember, and I was born and raised here. There have been several studies conducted by universities throughout the state that, more-or-less, have come to a general consensus about the influx of drivers from all over the world. As a right to work state, we get people moving here from all over the US; as a large agriculture state, we get an influx of migrant workers year round; as a large tourist state, we get visitors from all over the world; as a retirement state, well, you get the picture. Mix all these driving habits together, both good and poor, and you end up with a mess on the roads.

    We are also a get tough on DUI state until we catch them and then it seems that we have every loop-hole on the books to get them off with little or no punishment. I saw this happen time and time again when I was with the Sheriff's Office and continue to see it now.

    On the other hand, you also need to put some of the blame on the cyclist for some of these fatalities. I often wonder why many of these cyclist that drive would never think about driving their cars at night without their lights on, but insist on riding a bike at night with no lights and/or not obeying the same rules that they follow as drivers, regardless of the time of day. One of the three fatalities was the fault of the cyclist as was 4 of the eight that were killed in 2010 in a five month span.

    It just seems like the law makers don't care and the drivers and riders just don't listen and pay attention. As always, we probably won't see anything happen from the state legislature or county/city government until someone in their family is involved in a bicycle related fatality. Then it will become a top priority to fix the laws and get tough.

    I'll get off my soap box or this can turn into a book.
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  8. #8
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    JohnV,
    As said this Clyde from NW Florida will be with y'all in spirit.These problems are endemic to all of Florida, your area is growing so much faster than we have but we are feeling the strain here. I am happy to live out in the country and in an area that is bicyclist positive.

    My mom (82 Y.O.) just surrendered her driver's license, voluntarily. She has the very beginnings of macular degeneration and didn't want to risk any accidents. I'll gladly drive her where she wants to go, anytime. Not to be harsh but a large problem here is with elderly drivers that have very poor eye sight, for what ever reason. I understand their need for freedom but no life, theirs or others is worth the tragedy.

    End rant. Happy New Year everyone.

    Bill

  9. #9
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    As a former Tampa Bay area cyclist, (Sarasota, St. Pete, Tampa, Temple Terrace) you have my empathy. People wonder why I am a fearless cyclist, and its because I grew up around Tampa Bay, nothing fazes me.

    Christmas time is especially dangerous. The nights are darkest and the drivers distracted by bargain hunting. In addition to my safety gear, I wear a Santa hat on my helmet and strangely, I think it is my best piece of safety gear. It brings instant recognition of my humanity and a smile to drivers and passengers.

    There is a national day of mourning for fallen cyclists, usually in May, called the Ride of Silence.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by John_V View Post
    ...


    On the other hand, you also need to put some of the blame on the cyclist for some of these fatalities. I often wonder why many of these cyclist that drive would never think about driving their cars at night without their lights on, but insist on riding a bike at night with no lights and/or not obeying the same rules that they follow as drivers, regardless of the time of day. One of the three fatalities was the fault of the cyclist as was 4 of the eight that were killed in 2010 in a five month span.
    ...
    I'll get off my soap box or this can turn into a book.
    Until I expanded my riding habits from just riding around the neighborhood to exploring anything within miles and riding for fitness I always put any problems at the feet of motor vehicle drivers. Then I started riding distances and seeing people riding bikes under many different circumstances. Frankly, many times I have been astounded the cyclist didn't commit suicide by motor vehicle. Riding on dark grey days or at night dressed all in black or very subdued colors, no lights or reflective gear, riding wrong way on a highway, darting across streets in front of oncoming traffic, texting while riding, reading a book while riding, and on and on. Then, they complain that somehow motor vehicle drivers are "out to get cyclists", or they "hate cyclists". Nothing could be further from the truth. My experience is that, for the most part, motor vehicles treat bikes the same as they treat other cars. Sometimes that is pretty bad. But, most of the time is is OK. Cyclists have to do their part though.

    Florida driving in some areas is as much a challenge as I've encountered anywhere. Signage is POOR. In the rain, or with limited visibility it is very easy to do dangerous things, especially in the Ginnie Springs area.

    That all said; every place I've been has had its' challenges. Several are not very stranger friendly. Some are not very friendly to anyone. But, given some heads up operation and consideration for the mistakes we all make(defensive operating) we can keep the carnage to a minimum.
    Last edited by HawkOwl; 12-27-11 at 09:15 AM.
    It is better to smell the flowers than taste the roots.

  11. #11
    Senior Member John_V's Avatar
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    When I was with the Sheriff's Office, we used to have a very difficult time around the high drug areas as many of the dealers were on quick BMX bikes and would always be in dark clothing with no lights or reflectors on the bikes. This was done on purpose so that they could get away in the dark if they were being chased. I remember arresting several of them at hospitals after they collided with cars that couldn't see them.

    Then we started our bike patrols and were able to catch them as they tried to go in between houses and apartment buildings. They started the bike patrols after I left but that would have been fun.
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  12. #12
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    We have been in the Ft. Myers/Estero area since October, and I have found the cycling pretty easy. Bike lanes are common and so far, drivers have been no problem. I know the res tof the snowbirds start showing up now, so I will put an extra cautious eye out.

    Thanks,
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  13. #13
    Senior Member John_V's Avatar
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    We actually have a lot of areas that are full of bike lanes, but there are issues with that. For one, they are full of debris and are never cleaned, so you have to ride in the road to get around all the junk in the bike lane. For example, if there is a bike lane on a road where there is a vehicle crash, the tow truck drivers will almost always sweep the glass and broken plastic parts into the bike lane instead of sweeping them up and placing them into a container as they should. Crap that falls off of other vehicles are usually just tossed off the road and into the bike lanes. Also, many of the bike lanes in this area that are along major roads are dangerous to ride on as the drivers must think that there is a winner's trophy waiting for them when they arrive at their destination. I guess like everywhere else, speed limits mean nothing more than an annoying sign on the side of the road, but the speeding is extremely bad in this area.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member Kurt Erlenbach's Avatar
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    My little part of paradise is pretty good as far as cycling/driver interactions go. Central Florida east coast did not grow quite like the west coast, and there are good places to ride around here. This is the problem, as I see it, with Florida. We have the worst of an old South attitude (bikes? Only wierdos ride bikes!) coulped with a growth-on-the-cheap attitude, meaning that cycling infrastructure gets the short end. That seems to have changed recently, as it seems that most newer roads have at least a paved shoulder. Coupled with the tourists/ elderly/foreigners, plus flat roads that encourage drivers to go fast, and things get dicey for bikes.

    But like most things in life, there are many things to reduce risks. If you can wade through the crap, A&S has pretty good info about how to ride safe. One of the things I've learned is how dangerous intersections are. As a result, I try to ride where there are as few intersections as possible.

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    I remember 1993-94, the year I lived in Orlando -- speed limits were a suggestion, cars would change lanes if there was 1.1 car lengths of separation, and accidents were alarmingly frequent. Between that, and the abysmal employment prospects (right-to-work is a cancer that my state is trying to pass into law, in FL you worked sh** jobs unless you were in tourism when I was there), I swore I'd never go back. I was there TWICE since, for two days; my 2nd daughter graduated HS, and the day after she got married (she rushed it at the last minute, got married the day after she turned 18 to get her mother out of her business, I arrived in time for her ORIGINAL schedule).

  16. #16
    Senior Member bigbadwullf's Avatar
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    Probably hit a someone with a "stuck blinker".

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  17. #17
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    WHAT THE...IS GOIN ON DOWN THERE IN FLORIDA!!!??? I don't know about any other states except for mine (Maryland) but, didn't Florida, UNBELIEVABLY, have 125 bicyclists killed in 2008? Maryland is not as big as Florida, but that sounds remarkably insane for that many cyclists to be killed in one year, even if one allows for a few to be cyclists error! Please!! Somebody tell us what is goin on down there!!!

  18. #18
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    Very few careless drivers get acted on, the sheriff's departments and Highway Patrol are underpaid and stretched thin from the budget cuts and no repaves or new roads get the required, by federal law, bicycle lanes (just pave it and tell everyone that bicyclist are so minor we didn't feel the lane was needed. Actually has happened in Escambia County several times now.) If there are bicycle lanes they are trash and debris depositories. Add in a fast growing elderly population, with major sensory and motor skill problems in the South and central retirement areas, that have problems with their driving skills.

    For some reason Florida seems to take a yellow light as a speed up signal and turn signals are either not used or as said "Stuck On"
    What else do you want to look at, it is probably a problem here. makes riding interesting.

    Bill

  19. #19
    Senior Member teachme's Avatar
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    I've only been cycling for 8 months so I am not really qualified to give anyone advice on how to stay safe on the roadways while riding a bike. I do own and operate a Texas Driver's Ed school so I am qualified to give advice on how to stay safe while driving on our roadways. There is a multitude of strategies for an individual to stay safe on the roadways rangeing from keeping an adequate space cushion around your vehicle to vehicle inspections. If I had to package the whole idea of operating a vehicle safely on our roadways I would say it is operator attitude.
    When I am cycling; at the start of a ride; my attitude is to be safe, obey traffic laws and so forth. After a few miles into the ride, endorphins kick in, and my attitude changes... I no longer am an operator of a bicycle on the roadways, but an athlete, feeling good and wanting to push my body to the limit. I think; as cyclists, it is important to realize or remember the release of endorphins by the brain into our central nervous system is a natural occurence during exercise. Endorphins are the reason we love to exercise, they give us that "good" feeling during and after exercise. Endorphins can also make some people feel 10 feet tall and bullet proof. I can't speak for other cyclists, but this situation of hightened endorphins released into my system is where I sense a higher "risktakeing" approach to my rideing. I counter this danger with greater awareness of what is going on physiologically inside my body. I remind myself that I must operate my vehicle (bicycle) according to the "6 conditions" This is a Drivers Ed teaching strategy but I tweaked it a little bit to fit my cycling prowess. Basically for a cyclist its about pushing it to the limit; whatever your limit is... Under the "6 Conditions" rule, you should never push it to the limit whenever any of the following 6 conditions is less than ideal. The 6 conditions are:
    1. Condition of the roadway
    2. Condition of the traffic
    3. Condition of the light
    4. Condition of the weather
    5. Condition of the vehicle
    6. Condition of the operator
    It is when any operator of any vehicle pushes it to the limit when any one of these six conditions is less than ideal that he puts himself or others in danger. And, don't forget to include the endorphin factor into the equation when considering cyclists...
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    Quote Originally Posted by HawkOwl View Post
    Condolences to the families.

    Like was posted above I am getting more outspoken about reckless driving. But, in my case I include operators of both motor vehicles and cycles.
    This is an often overlooked point. As a cyclist AND a driver (as most of us are, I imagine), I see as many dumb moves by bikes as by cars. This doesn't excuse a DUI or hit and run, but the blame isn't all on one side.

  21. #21
    surfrider
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    Hawk Owl's post could apply to where I live in Orange Conuty, California. I lost count of the number of times I see bicyclist running red lights and stops signs, weaving through traffic, using cellphones, etc. Frankly I'm not convinced its a probalem of driver inattentiveness and bicyclists not taking riding on the road more seriously.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Mobile 155's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by surfrider View Post
    Hawk Owl's post could apply to where I live in Orange Conuty, California. I lost count of the number of times I see bicyclist running red lights and stops signs, weaving through traffic, using cellphones, etc. Frankly I'm not convinced its a probalem of driver inattentiveness and bicyclists not taking riding on the road more seriously.
    I think you are right it is a combination of drivers and cyclists. I ride down SART to Huntington and every now and then to Laguna. The ride north on PCH isn't bad but Newport and Corona Del Mar can be a bear. The problem I have found with South Newport and Corona Del Mar is the on street parking in places where the street isn't wide enough for two lanes on each side and curb side parking at least if you are trying sqeeze a bike between the parked cars and moving traffic. But as tight as it is we manage to get to Laguna and back in one piece.
    Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein.

  23. #23
    www.ocrebels.com Rick@OCRR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
    But as tight as it is we manage to get to Laguna and back in one piece.
    I agree, Corona Del Mar (which is no where near either Corona or Del Mar!) is a challenge, as is Laguna Beach between Newport Beach and Dana Point. Too narrow, really for two lanes in each direction plus on the curb parking . . . but we manage.

    In my experience, cyclists ride fairly smart through there and motorists are used to seeing cyclists, so thankfully not a major problem. Not as bad as Tampa Bay, apparently!

    Rick / OCRR

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    The guy that owns the LBS I usually go to was run down by a senior citizen in Florida while riding in the bike lane in broad daylight. He lived to tell about it but the driver refused to turn it in to her insurance company until threats of lawyers were made. Understand his bike did not fare too well.

    Joking aside maybe Lance or Levi could get RadioShack to start selling those helmets with the red rotating beacon light they used to have during the holiday season. Florida riders sound like they could use something like that.

  25. #25
    Dharma Dog lhbernhardt's Avatar
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    Spent a few vacation days in Orlando and Sarasota last year. I didn't encounter anything out of the ordinary as far as drivers, but did notice that the bike facilities were pretty bad in general in Florida. I did some longish rides in Sarasota - Longboat Key was OK.

    Rather than remember a whole bunch of rules about how to stay safe, I merely follow a simple rule of thumb that has kept me out of trouble the past 40 years: "As much as possible, never do anything that causes any other road user to have to change speed or direction."

    As far as people riding bikes, I find that safety issues emerge when riders start behaving more like pedestrians than cyclists. Cyclists may get hit, but they are seldom to blame. Guys riding bikes who behave like pedestrians are, I find, usually at fault in collisions. Wrong-way riding is a good example. Drivers never look for objects coming at them at 20 kmh or faster from their right as they emerge from driveways or sidestreets.

    L.

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