Bike and Pedestrian Safety
In an effort to make Lee County streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists, a coalition of local private and public health and safety organizations formed BikeWalkLee, a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County -- streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities.
Jenny Holt, Freelance Writer
Cycle Smart, Cycle Safe: Tips and Kit to Make You Safer on the Roads
Cycling is an excellent method of transport for many reasons: it’s healthier for you, better for the environment, and can reduce commute times in cities with heavy traffic. However, with reported bicycle related injury crashes and 9 crashes that resulted in a fatal in 2016 (Signal Four Analytics, preliminary), it’s important to make sure that you are cycling safely.
What Does the Law Say?
It’s your legal obligation under state law to ensure you have a front white light, back red light and back red reflector. You can be fined for not having these - but it’s not some arbitrary decision designed to catch people out. A common type of bicycle crash is drivers pulling out in front of cyclists at intersections, because they didn’t see them. Cyclists are smaller, positioned on the outside of vehicles at the side of the road, and therefore, not as noticeable. You need to make yourself more obvious to other road users, so don’t necessarily stop at the required front and rear lights - add extra lights or reflective clothing.
For as little as $40 you can make yourself seen and safe on the roads.
- Lights: a simple pair of white and red lights can set you back as little as $10. LED lights are ideal for bicycles as they can be inexpensive, small, and don’t require much power, but provide increasingly more powerful beams, improving cyclist visibility.
- Helmet: vital to protect your head in case of a collision, a basic helmet will cost you around $15-20, but could save your life.
- High Vis: consider adding a high-vis belt or jacket to your cycling gear to make you really stand out on the road.
How to Cycle More Safely
Unlike driving a car, there’s no license or test for riding a bicycle on the roads. You might not think much of hopping on your bike and setting off down the street, but a little education can go a long way. Make sure you know the laws of the road, and be aware of how to cycle safely and sensibly in a flow of traffic.
- Obey traffic signs, signals and lights. Always cycle in the same direction as the traffic.
- Ride where you can be seen, but don’t hug the curb too closely.
- Signal clearly to other road users when you are turning, and make eye contact with others at intersections so you know they have seen you.
- Try not to undertake or cycle up the inside of other vehicles. This is especially important at intersections, where they may turn left and cut you off. You will also be less visible to other vehicles turning across the flow of traffic.
- Walkable and bikeable communities that encourage interaction among citizens of all ages, incomes, and abilities;
- The freedom of choice in transportation, including the choice to safely walk, bike or use public transit;
- The strength, stability and quality of our environment;
- Active recreation;
- Responsible use of energy resources; and
- Open communication among citizens and between government and the public
BikeWalkLee seeks to work with local governments, officials and staff to help create a culture of planning that works to complete Lee County's streets so that all users of our transportation networks are considered on the front end of any project or improvement. This effort includes attending and testifying at public meetings to raise awareness of complete streets, analyzing data and legislation to make the case for necessary enhancements and dangerous infrastructure gaps and helping to identify options and opportunities that would enhance Lee County's evolution into a model complete streets community.Through BikeWalkLee, there are number of resources available for Lee County residents related to these safety issues, including:
- SafeLee is a free innovative hands-on traffic safety program for children four to eight years old that is available for public or private schools or other children’s groups.
- A Cycling Skills Training is a free bike safety education program that trains participants to safely navigate roadways and trails. A multi-station outdoor course with cones, signs and other items is set up for cyclists to practice their skills.
- A Bike Health Program offers CPSC-approved helmets for toddler through adult. The helmets can be purchased for $5 each. They are free if prescribed by a child’s pediatrician or a referral is made from a social service agency.
- The Adult & Elder Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Program offers hands-on educational programs taught by certified instructors.