Saturday, January 16, 2021

Give Us a Break on the Winterberry Bridge

Letter to the Editor

Your April 9, 2020, article, “Cyclists, Walkers, Joggers Take to Marco Streets: Safety Is the Key & Common Sense Is Encouraged” was a good piece for all to read. It encouraged the use of bike lanes over sidewalks and cited DOT findings of support. All citizens in the community should take another look at that article. 

Since the social distancing mandate in mid-March, I’ve logged 325 miles on my road bike. It would be too tedious to count the miles I’ve accumulated on Marco Island roads since moving here 6 years ago. My husband is also a biker. We ride defensively and always follow the rules of the road. We marvel at the dangers people put themselves into by riding on the sidewalks instead of the designated bike lanes on the roads. For the most part, drivers are very courteous and respectful of cyclists, too. Let’s face it, we all benefit from a healthy and active community. There are still, however, some old-fashioned thinkers who would be damned before yielding a few seconds to a cyclist. 

The Winterberry Bridge at Heathwood is the only trouble spot on my 16-mile daily ride. The bike lane ends right before the bridge, so I continue on the far-right side of the road at my 15 MPH pace up the bridge and down the other side to the adjoining bike lane. It may take me six seconds to get over the bridge. Six seconds. Timing usually works out, but sometimes, like today, there was an antsy driver, probably in a hurry to get to Publix for more toilet paper, who crossed the yellow center line to pass me on the bridge. With pedestrians, a cyclist and a rightturning car approaching the bridge from the other side, the driver nearly cut me off to swerve back in her lane. It could have been a very ugly accident at a busy intersection. 

So now, for the few drivers on Marco with little patience for sharing the road, if you see a cyclist in the middle of the lane on the Winterberry Bridge, please know that they temporarily overtaking the road for your safety, their safety and for the safety of oncoming traffic. 

– Kathryn Rogers 

4 responses to “Give Us a Break on the Winterberry Bridge”

  1. Baby says:

    Isn’t that the bridge where you’re supposed to walk your bike across

    • Kathryn Rogers says:

      According to DOT, statistics reveal that the bike lanes are encouraged and considered statistically much safer for cyclists than the sidewalks, but many cyclists still prefer to ride on the sidewalk. In that case, for people riding bikes on the sidewalk, signage instructs cyclists to walk their bike on the sidewalk over the bridge (as the sidewalk is way too narrow to risk riding across.)

      For people who chose to use the bike lanes, which are not available in every area of the city, including over some bridges, they are entitled to equality on the road, as stated in 316.2065 Bicycle regulation:
      (1) Every person propelling a vehicle by human power has all of the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle under this chapter, except as to special regulations in this chapter, and except as to provisions of this chapter which by their nature can have no application. Upon further reading, there is no stated exception on this topic.

      Also, here is the Florida Bicycle Association interpretation of the State Law:
      When a lane is too narrow for a bicycle and a car to share safely, the cyclist is entitled to the use of the entire lane. Within this lane, the cyclist usually rides on the right half to facilitate visibility for overtaking motorists, but should ride far enough left to discourage mototists from trying to squeeze past within the lane.

  2. Matt says:

    Would love to feel comfortable riding in the bike lane but way too many people are on the phone, texting and talking. Several times I had to go into the grass to avoid being hit. The sidewalks are designed for multiple purposes but the streets are not! We even lost a police officer to a bike accident. Share the sidewalk, we can’t walking or ride the beach rather!!!

  3. Erin says:

    Hmm, so you say you follow the rules of the road but yet the signs clearly say to walk your bike across the bridge??? Yet you are now complaining because you didn’t follow the rules of the road? Am I missing something?

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