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Bicycles entitled to place on roads

Share the Road Ride's message: Get along on streets, official says.

By MELANIE AVE
Published July 2, 2007


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ST. PETERSBURG - Dozens of bicyclists will fill downtown and neighborhood streets Sunday as the two-wheelers spread the message about their rights to the road.

The fifth annual Share the Road Ride, part of a national campaign, is being sponsored by the St. Petersburg Bicycle Club, the Tampa Bay Freewheelers, Suncoast Cycling Club and the city of St. Petersburg.

Laura Hallam, executive director of the Waldo-based Florida Bicycle Association, spoke with the Times recently about the cars, cycling and what happens when the two modes of transportation meet.

Why do bicyclists need to be on roads and streets anyway?

By Florida law, a bicycle is a vehicle and it has every right to be on the road as a motorized vehicle.

But why can't bicyclists just use sidewalks and trails?

A lot of bicyclists would prefer to be on trails, but they don't always get you to a job or home or wherever. On sidewalks, you're much more likely to have a conflict or a crash. In some cases, sidewalks might be preferable but they're much more dangerous.

As a motorist, what are you supposed to do when you're running late and you get stuck behind a slow-moving bicycle?

It would be similar if a tractor was in front of you. You would wait until it's safe to pass. A cyclist should ride as far to the right as practicable. There is an unwritten courtesy, generally, that cyclists should be conscientious. If there are four or five cars stacked up, they should pull over and let traffic get by. Cyclists don't want to be out there playing dodgeball with cars.

What's the most important message you'd like to get across to motorists?

Florida continues to be No. 1 for fatalities and injuries for bicyclists as well as pedestrians. Bicyclists are vehicles and they have a right to be on the road. They should be treated like any other vehicle. The main Share the Road message is bicyclists are vehicles and we should all be able to get along safely, legally and confidently.

Fast Facts:

Want to ride?

The fifth annual Share the Road Ride begins at 8 a.m. Sunday from the North Shore Pool, 901 North Shore Drive NE, St. Petersburg. Rides from 10 to 62 miles. Same-day registration is $25. Information: (727) 582-1910 or visit www.sharethe roadride.com.

[Last modified July 2, 2007, 00:13:05]


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