Saturday, June 05, 2010

Governor signs a mish-mash road bill

Gov. Crist signed HB971 into law late yesterday, despite the pleas of advocates worried about the bike-lane mandate, the weakening of the drunk-driver law and the prospect of motor scooters and golf carts hogging space on sidewalks and recreational trails.  While the governor issued no statement, I surmise that there were too many other innocent matters wrapped into the bill for the governor to go against the Florida Department of Transportation, various interest groups and the powerful lawmakers who handled the bill.  We mustn't let it end with that.  Let us resolve that never again will the bicycling community be so unprepared to counter the whims of a handful of uninformed lawmakers as we were in 2010.

Part of being prepared will be to understand how this debacle happened. Keri Caffrey's blog post yesterday can help us find that understanding:
[Rep. Gary Aubuchon of Cape Coral] says he inserted the bike lane mandate after a fellow lawmaker brought a south Florida cycling problem to his attention, “along A1A they were having some challenges with cyclists who were choosing not to ride in that lane and causing backups and traffic. In that case it will give law enforcement the ability to require cyclists to move over and stay in the bike lane rather than to simply choose to ride in the road instead.”
You'll find the rest of Caffrey's piece at Commute Orlando, and it's very good reading.

There's additional info and comment from Laura Hallam of the Florida Bicycle Association.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if this means that the cyclist will be forced to ride on a bike path if one is near by the road. I find that the some bike paths are slower and have more hazards, i.e. pedestrians, etc., than the road does.

JHop said...

The new law does not require using bike paths, but we fear that ill-informed persons may assume that it does -- or that that becomes the next step for the misguided authors of the new law.

Eddie Suarez said...

To the public a bike path and a bike lane are one and the same. They have no idea that there are actually two different animals.

I am certain that law enforcement also will use the terms interchangeably.