As a driving instructor for many years in New York and now Florida, Steve Bowe is alarmed by the way cars and bikes interact with each other when sharing the road.
- Safetly a concern for bicyclists who share the road
- Orlando ranks as one of the most dangerous cities for cycling
- Driving instructor believes cyclists should avoid the roads
"It is extremely dangerous," Bowe says. "As you know, cars and trucks don't mix. And cars and bikes certainly don't mix on our roads."
He says the main issues have to do with distracted drivers and bike lanes. Bowe says they are not wide enough in some areas and non-existent in others.
"Sometimes the bike lanes will just abruptly end," he says. "No warning, no nothing. There will be no bike lane. No shoulder. That puts them in great danger."
To make matters worse, a recent study from We Love Cycling actually ranked Orlando as one of the most dangerous cities in the entire world for cycling, checking in at number 10 right behind Sao Paulo, Brazil.
If the bike lanes are too narrow and drivers aren't paying enough attention to those bicyclists, then what is a bicyclist to do? According to Bowe, he thinks cyclists should avoid the road entirely and use one of the area's countless bike trails like the Black Hammock Trail Head in Seminole County.
"We have beautiful trails down here," Bowe says. "I can't stress this enough on our roads. Beautiful trails that go for miles. Right down here on 434! You can ride to your heart's content. You don't have to deal with vehicles."
"So let's say you need to go downtown, it may take you along some busy road," Florida Department of Transportation spokesperson Steve Olson says. "Eliminating bicyclists using a roadway? I mean they are a form of transportation just like a motorized vehicle."
Maybe you'll never be able to fully remove drivers from the road, so entities like the Florida Department of Transportation are doing their part with their Complete Streets Initiative which now allows new standards for eight feet of separation between cars and bikes instead of four which includes a seven foot bike lane.
"As you see people using bikes to make the link to transit or take their bikes to work or recreating just to get from point A to point B, you have to make those accommodations," Olson says. "And that's what we are trying to do with Complete Streets."
Bowe knows that for now bicyclists will continue to use busy roads, so at the very least he advises bikers to wear brightly colored helmets and shirts.
"The more visibility you have, the more you can be seen by other drivers out on the road," Bowe says.
For more information on Florida's Complete Streets initiative, visit flcompletestreets.com.