FBA Talks Back

Raphael Clemente of FBA wrote a response to Jim Smith. Nicely done.

Instead of bike lane law, enforce existing ones

Palm Beach Post Letters to the Editor
Friday, January 30, 2009

This is in response to the article, “Bicyclists, stay in your lane.” The writer supports a law to require bicyclists to ride in a bicycle lane, should there be one. Such a law would have negative consequences, be virtually unenforceable and likely penalize riders for proper and safe cycling.

With a few exceptions, bicyclists are entitled to the same rights and have the same responsibilities as a driver of a motor vehicle. There are many situations where, for safety’s sake, a bicyclist must leave the right-hand edge of the road. Mandating that a cyclist ride in a bicycle lane except in a few specific circumstances actually would promote unsafe practices by requiring cyclists to stay to the right until the last moment, then to dart to the left to make a turn or avoid a hazard. As with driving a motor vehicle, it is far safer to position yourself properly in advance of executing a turn or changing your path of travel.

Mandatory bike lane use also would open the door to mistreatment and prejudicial behavior by motorists and law enforcement. Some laws are uniform in nearly every state. Cyclists riding three or four abreast, running traffic signals and stop signs and riding into oncoming traffic are all clear offenses for which bicyclists can and should be cited. Likewise, motorists who pass too closely and intentionally intimidate cyclists must be dealt with by law enforcement.

There is no question that large groups of cyclists riding on public roads with no regard for laws, other roadway users, or their own safety create a nuisance and a hazard. Enforcing existing laws on bicyclists and motor vehicle drivers would be the better method to deal with the challenges of limited roadway space and competing interests. The Florida Bicycle Association encourages law-enforcement agencies to become familiar with these laws and to consistently enforce them. Our roads will be safer for everyone, and the level of friction between drivers and cyclists will decrease.


Florida Bicycle Association Board
West Palm Beach