To the editor:
I am compelled to respond to the letter in this weeks Eagle called "Misinformation regarding the bicycle path." The writer unfortunately is incorrect. Though she quoted State Statute 316.2065, it has nothing to do with riding on Stringfellow Road. There is no designated bicycle lane on that road and the multiuse path parallel to the road is not discussed in that statute. To clarify the law more clearly and hopefully put this issue to rest, I will quote the pertinent legal aspects of this topic below from Mr. Dan Moser of BikeWalk Lee County.org and Florida Bicycling Association. My wife obtained this information while doing research about this last year for a bike safety project for Pine Island.
"You are correct that a cyclist is never compelled to use a side path (rare exceptions exist, such as cyclists being compelled to use an adjacent side path on a drawbridge with a steel grate surface that create a clear hazard). Many years ago Sanibel PD attempted to force someone onto the path by citing him. In court the citation was dismissed and the judge made clear that a bicycle is a legal vehicle when on the roadway and has all the rights and duties of other vehicle operators.
"PS - Inappropriate use of the horn and threatening behavior by the driver is illegal, so I'd suggest you report it, or better yet, record it and then report it.
"An excerpt from the 2012 LEG can be found below. Also below is something from Florida Bicycle Law that should help ... Dan.
"A bicycle is defined as a vehicle [316 .003(2)] for purposes of the Uniform Traffic Control Law. A bicycle with an electric helper motor that cannot propel it faster than 20 mph on level ground is included in this definition. A person in control of a vehicle on a street or highway is a driver [316 .003(1)] . As a driver, a cyclist must follow the traffic rules common to all drivers. As the driver of a bicycle, he must also obey rules adopted specially for bicycles. A cyclist has all of the rights to the roadway applicable to any driver, except as to the special regulations for bicycles [316 .2065(1)]. A cyclist is not required to have a driver license [322 .01(42)]
"Even if the area is marked and signed or otherwise designated as a bike path, cyclists are never required to use a bicycle path or a sidewalk. Cyclists may use a paved shoulder, sidewalk (Unless prohibited by local ordinance), or a bike path if they so desire, but it is not required. A bike path is not a bike lane, which is a portion of the roadway marked for the use of bicyclists. Use of a marked bike lane by cyclists riding in the roadway is mandatory under some circumstances.
"You should ask anyone who thinks otherwise to show you the statute that requires it. They will not be able to do so. Please see this and the other posts related to sidewalks, bike paths and bike lanes: flbikelaw.org/2010/01/bicycles-must-use-sidewalk/
"I suggest that you take this information to the local police and ask them to clarify the situation for all users."
So I hope this clarifies the situation. Bicyclists legally have their choice of using the road or the multiuse path on Pine Island. Also, as surprising as it may seem, there is statistically a far less chance of being injured on the road than the bike path. I certainly do agree that it seems safer to ride on the multiuse path when there is less than a few feet of shoulder on the road and that is what I personally do. However, legally speaking, it's up to the individual rider to decide. Lastly, those riders going over 15 mph probably should not ride on the multiuse path as part of bicycling etiquette. This is frequently the reason faster riders are seen on the road too.
Jeff Horowitz MD
St. James City