Safety Tips for the Casual Bicycle Rider in Florida

Bicycle leaning against a brick wallRiding bicycles is a fantastic activity for the entire family. In Pinellas County and throughout Florida, we are blessed with a tremendous variety of paved bicycle paths which families can ride with minimal contact with vehicles. While virtually anyone can ride a bike, there are some things which must be kept in mind to make it as safe as possible. Here are some tips I've learned from years of riding with experienced cyclists and bicycle clubs.

1. Always wear a helmet.

They save lives and prevent concussions. No bicycle club or organized bicycle event will permit anyone to ride without a helmet. They understand the risk of riding without one. Yet, I see many adult casual riders, especially men, riding without them, even if they make their children wear them. Set the best example by always wearing a helmet.
 

2.You want to be seen by drivers.

Experienced road riders use a forward facing blinking white light even during daylight hours for a reason. They are proven to increase visibility. Always use a very bright blinking red taillight for the same purpose, even during the day. I also recommend wearing the brightest neon yellow or other eye-catching color shirt or top. It increases the odds of being seen by inattentive drivers. We have developed our own Jim Dodson Law cycling jersey which is a bright neon yellow.
 

3. Signal your intention to turn left or right and always stop for stop signs and red lights.

You always want to be predictable on a bicycle and avoid putting yourself in harm's way. Never assume a driver sees you or understands your intended travel path.
 

4. Callout before passing another bicyclist or pedestrian.

Experienced cyclists always announce themselves by calling out "on your left" as they overtake another bicyclist or pedestrian. Never assume that person is aware you're coming or that they will continue moving straight ahead. This is a tremendous safety issue on the road as well as on a multiuse trail, failing to do this results in many serious crashes.
 

5. You can ride two abreast on a trail or within a bike lane so long as you're not obstructing other traffic.

Check out Fla Stat 316.2065(6) for the details. Riding single file is always preferred.

Be safe out there and enjoy it. I certainly do!

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