Those who love it will tell you…it is hard to beat getting on a bicycle and enjoying the many beautiful areas around the panhandle. But, sometimes, accidents can happen. News 13 looks at safety tips for cycling in this Problem Solver report.
Hammer Down Multi-Sport is a relatively new group of about 70 athletes from Bay and Walton Counties. Cycling is one of their passions. Group member Craig Baranowski says, "We are a great group of athletes. We are excited to be able to train in such a beautiful area and being able to promote cycling, triathlon and running."
They say safety depends on knowing the rules of the road. Cyclist Marshal McClanahan says, "You will want to slow down a little bit...get a view of where the cyclist is. The cyclists, if they are doing their job, are staying to the right. A lot of times people don't realize how fast we are moving as cyclists and they will pass us and then they will turn right in front of us not thinking we are still there. A lot of times, we have to slam on our brakes. There have been a few instances where people have hit the broadside of a car. Cyclist Ashley Guy of Panama City says, "I got a bike less than a year ago and when I first started riding I was terrified to get out on the roads…cars being so close and bike lanes so small.
Police officers also use bicycles in patrol duties from time to time. They know all too well about the close calls between bicycles and motorized vehicles. According to Corporal Billy Carstarphen of the Panama City Police Department, "Bicycles are a very good tool. We use them for a lot of close quarters. You see a lot of drivers and they get impatient because of the bicycles. Most lanes don't have the bicycle lanes. So it is a two-way message for the bike riders and drivers to be careful. Yes it is. Bicycles have to adhere to all the rules just as any other vehicle would on the road and you see a lot of bicycle riders and they are riding against the traffic which is wrong. We need the drivers to pay attention to the riders on the bikes because they are vehicles as well according to Florida Statutes."
Here is a big reminder for cyclists. Kids under the age of 16 are required to wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. Safe night riding requires visible lights on the front and rear of the bike. And for motorists...the legal minimum passing clearance for an overtaking vehicle is three feet.
Florida Bicycle Association Http://www.floridabicycle.org/rules/bikelaw.html
Hammer Down Multi-Sport Http://hammerdownmultisport.com/
Florida Bicycle Regulations (see section 316.2065, f.s.)--
•A bicyclist must obey all traffic controls and signals.
•A bicyclist must use a fixed, regular seat for riding.
•At least one hand must be kept on the handlebars while riding.
•When riding on sidewalks or in crosswalks, a bicyclist has the same rights and duties as a pedestrian.
Passenger Vehicle Distance to Cyclists: