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Old 10-06-06, 07:35 PM   #1
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Cyclists Get Help In Florida

I picked up this post from a Florida member of a BMW forum that I participate on. I thought some of the comments in here about bike lanes and wearing helmets was interesting.

The state of Florida now requires cars to pass with a minimum of 3 feet of a bicyclist who is using the road !!!
If you pass too close (unsafely), the fine is $ 118.50 !

New state law mandates safe distance for motorists buzzing past bicyclists
By Chuck McGinness
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 28, 2006
It's called getting buzzed.
In cycling slang, it's when a car passes so close that it forces a biker off the road or, even worse, clips the cyclist with the side mirror.
On Sunday, a new state law takes effect that requires motorists to maintain a minimum 3-foot safe distance when passing bicyclists. The fine is $118.50.
Longtime biker Don Braverman said he's never been hit, but he's had to veer off the road to avoid a collision. He's seen fellow riders suffer punctured lungs and other serious injuries when buzzed.
"I hope drivers realize that these mirrors stick out a good eight to ten inches and allow for that," said Braverman, president of the Boca Raton Bicycle Club. "A driver's responsibility is the same as passing a car."
On narrow roads, like State Road A1A, a popular road for cyclists which has 12-foot wide travel lanes, motorists likely will have to cross the center line to comply with the new law. If there is oncoming traffic, drivers will have to wait until it's safe to pass.
"If a car is going slower than you want to go, you can't just blow your horn, yell and cuss at them and expect them to move off the road so you can pass," said George Martin, executive director of the Safe Bicycling Coalition of Palm Beach County. "Why should someone expect that of a bicyclist?"
Area police departments aren't planning any special crackdowns to enforce the new law. In Boca Raton, officers will keep a close eye on roads used by cyclists to make sure there aren't any problems, Police Chief Dan Alexander said.
"Boca Raton is set up nicely for bikers, as opposed to other cities," Alexander said.
Designated as a "Bicycle Friendly Community" by the Washington-based League of American Bicyclists, the city has 40 miles of bike lanes and 28 miles of off-road bike pathways.
That makes a big difference in reducing "interactions" between cyclists and motorists, according to a recent University of Texas study. Having painted bike lanes on streets helps both drivers and bikers stay in safer, more-central positions in their respective lanes.
"Without a marked bike lane, there appears to be a lot of uncertainty about how much space each person needs even when adequate road space is provided," said Randy Machemehl, director of the university's Center for Transportation Research.
Similarly, a New York City study released this month showed that of the 225 cyclists killed in crashes on city streets over the past 10 years, only one involved a cyclist who was in a marked bike lane. The most common factor contributing to the fatal accidents was bikers' ignoring signals and stop signs and 97 percent of the riders who died were not wearing helmets, according to the report.
The research shows bike lanes benefit motorists as much as they do bicyclists, said Raphael Clemente, a competitive cyclist and director of transportation, planning and public services for the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority. The Florida law should help improve safety, but only if it's enforced, he said.
"Police officers are too often unconcerned with the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians and are less likely to be attentive to laws that protect them," Clemente said, adding that police often are unfamiliar with the rights and responsibilities of cyclists.
Some motorists may argue that the law would not be needed if cyclists were more aware of their surroundings and pulled off the road if they are backing up traffic or preventing someone from passing safely.
State law says bikers should ride as far to the right as practical, but are not required to "hug the curb." That's dangerous and cyclists can take the entire lane to avoid unsafe conditions, Martin said.
"The burden of safe passing is, and always has been, on the driver," he said.
Florida is one of seven states with the passing law. Arizona, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Wisconsin are among the others.
__________________________________________________ _______
Also, this is a link to the actual Florida Statues to back up the article:
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Old 10-06-06, 07:53 PM   #2
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OK, this is about the 4th time this has been posted and I have no problem with that... Getting the word out about the law is the only way it can have any benefit (but not to us cyclists, although the more that hear it the more that are likely to inform non-cyclists)

AZ has similar law and I can assure you that the law does not mean that passing clearance becomes better as a result. While FL has penalties/fines, they are near impossible to enforce unless after the fact (i.e. accident)

So if FL want to get any benefit from this locals need to ensure that the media sweep about the law is not a one time deal, but gets repeated every few months (and hopefully not just after every cyclist who is hit makes the news)

So I don't put much into laws like this aimed at changing motorist behavior with difficulty to enforce and weak penalties.

If cyclists don't want to be buzzed, they own the strongest factor to control if they get buzzed thru their own behavior on the streets.

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Old 10-06-06, 08:10 PM   #3
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Sorry for the repost. I looked, but didn't search hard enough.

I found the NY stat interesting that only fatality had occured in a bike lane.

I also like the offical's statement that cyclists are entitled to take the lane whenever they feel it is neccessary.
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Old 10-06-06, 09:13 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by deanp
I found the NY stat interesting that only fatality had occured in a bike lane.
What's really a pity is the way that misrepresentation has gotten such wide circulation. What the study really found is that about 40% of fatalities occurred "in or near" bike lanes -- and bike lanes are on 1% of the roads in NYC.
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Old 10-06-06, 10:51 PM   #5
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They ran it for 20secs on the local news at 5 and 11pm that day and I'm sure most peeps got up just before it ran to go take a shiite. I agree It won't make a diff.
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