by Philina Richardson
Every other Tuesday, the Library brings you helpful tips for using your library resources more effectively. This week we’re branching out a bit, and talking about how you can make campus a little safer by talking about bike safety and etiquette.
In Florida, bicycles are legally classified as vehicles: they are required to follow the same traffic laws as cars, including stopping at all signals and signs, signaling turns, and driving on the right. If, for some reason, you’re biking on the sidewalk, you become a pedestrian and all pedestrian rights and rules now apply to you.
Simple enough, right? When you’re cycling on the road, you act like a car (vroom vroom!). When you’re riding on the sidewalk, you act like a pedestrian, though it is generally considered a bad idea to bike on the sidewalk.
In case you’re still confused, let’s break this down further with some examples:
On the road
On the sidewalk
|You’re crossing an intersection on your bike.||A cyclist must obey all signals and signs, meaning they must stop if required, signal a turn, and obey all traffic laws and signals. If there is a straight-through lane, use it.||If crossing at a pedestrian crosswalk, a cyclist must obey all crosswalk signals, and dismount and walk their bike across. Do not bike through a crosswalk if riding on the sidewalk.|
|Do cyclists have to stay on the right side of the road (ride with the flow of traffic)?||Yes.||Yes.|
|There’s a pedestrian in your path. What do you do?||Pedestrians have the right of way.||As we stated in the introduction, cycling on the sidewalk can be dangerous because of encounters like this. If you encounter a pedestrian from behind, it’s common courtesy to call out “On your left/right!” as you pass. This alerts the pedestrian to your presence, and helps prevent mishaps.|
Straightforward enough? Here are a few other things to keep in mind while you’re pedaling between classes:
- Your bike must have functional brakes.
- Your bike cannot be used to carry more persons than it was designed for (so, no one sitting on the handlebars!).
- If you’re going to be riding after sunset or before sunrise, you’ll need a light for the front of your bike and a reflector for the back to increase your visibility. If you can’t be seen, you can’t be avoided, and that can end disastrously.
- It’s illegal to wear or use headsets or headphones while operating a bike. Also? It’s just not a smart idea.
- Avoid the Danger Zones: stay out of the way of opening car doors, don’t pass on the right, and if you must bike on the sidewalk, use caution when approaching side roads and parking lot entrances (especially here on campus).
- Bike with the flow of traffic: it is illegal to travel in the left lane while on your bike.
- When cycling through campus, watch your speed and call out to pedestrians as you pass them. You’ll avoid a potentially dangerous collision by doing so, and hey, it’s just common courtesy. Examples: When passing on the right, call out: “On your right!” When passing on the left, call out: “On your left!”
Keeping all of these tips in mind while traveling around campus will keep you (and your fellow travelers) safe.