Stay fit, and ease your commute!
Walking and bicycle commuting are great ways to incorporate regular exercise into a hectic schedule. If you choose an easy pace, you’ll find cycling no more strenuous than walking, but some companies and many nearby health clubs offer shower facilities if the workout gets your blood pumping.
There are many resources available to Floridians who wish to become a safer cyclist. The Florida DOT’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Program works in many areas to promote safe walking and bicycling in Florida. The office develops initiatives and programs to improve the environment for safe, comfortable, and convenient walking and bicycling trips and to improve the performance and interaction among motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
If you currently bike or walk to work, and your employer offers the Emergency Ride Home program, you qualify for up to four free rides home in the event of an emergency. Just make sure you’re registered as a biker or walker.
Here is a great list of both paved and off-road bicycle trails throughout the state, assembled by Visit Florida.
Biking Lanes and Trails by County
Biking Level of Service/Suitability Maps by County
Learn how to cycle safely and with confidence on local roadways. Bike Florida offers courses on “Safety and Group Riding Techniques,” as well as regularly organized group rides. The Florida Bicycle Association offers these key principles for cyclists in its Florida Bicycle Law Enforcement Guide:
- Cyclists on roadways fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles.
- A cyclist is safer riding with traffic than facing it.
- Lamps must be used on a bicycle after sunset to alert other drivers.
- A cyclist traveling more slowly than other traffic should ride to the right, except to pass, to make a left turn, when necessary to avoid hazards, or when a lane is too narrow to share.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administratin and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission offer the following “10 Smart Routes to Bicycle Safety”:
- Protect your head. Wear a helmet. Bicycle helmets can reduce head injuries by 85%. Select a helmet that fits snugly and sits flat on the head.
- Assure bicycle readiness. Make sure your bicycle is adjusted properly. Make sure you can stand over the top tube of your bicycle. Before using your bicycle, check to make sure all parts are secure and working well.
- Stop it. Always check brakes before riding. Always control your speed by using your brakes. Always keep your brakes adjusted. If you cannot stop quickly, adjust your brakes. Ride slowly in wet weather and apply your brakes earlier, as it takes more distance to stop.
- See and Be Seen. Wear clothes that make you more visible. Always wear neon, florescent, or other bright colors when riding a bicycle.
- Avoid biking at night. It is far more dangerous to bicycle at night than during the day. Most bicycles are equipped for daylight use and need to be adapted for night time use. Young children should NOT ride at night.
- Stay alert. Always look out for obstacles in your path. Watch for potholes, cracks, expansion joints, railroad tracks, wet leaves, drainage grates, or anything that could make you fall.
- Go with the Flow. The safe way is the RIGHT way. Ride on the right side in a straight predictable path. Always go single file in the same direction as other vehicles. Riding against traffic puts you where motorists don’t expect you. They may not see you, and may pull across your path, or turn into you.
- Check for Traffic. Always be aware of the traffic around you. More than 70% of car-bicycle crashes occur at driveways or other intersectins. Before you enter any street or intersection, check for traffic.
- Learn the rules of the road. Obey traffic laws. Bicycles are considered vehicles. Bicyclists must obey the same rules as motorists. Read your State drivers’ handbook and learn to follow all the traffic signs, laws, and rules for operating a vehicle on the road.
- Don’t flip over your bicycle. Wheels should be securely fastened. If your bicycle has quick release wheels, it is your responsibility to make sure they are firmly closed at all times and to use the safety retainer if there is one.
For complete information on the “Ten Smart Routes to Bicycle Safety,” visit the US DOT and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website and view the Bicycle Street Smarts Guide.