It's no secret that the rolling hills of Pasco County outside San Antonio and Dade City offer some of the best cycling venues in Florida. Hundreds of Tampa Bay bicyclists flock to these scenic hills every weekend. The Pasco County sheriff's office deputies know about cyclists on these roads, too.
I understand deputies recently had a little chat with cyclists at the San Antonio parking lot. And Randy Myhre of SWFBUD member bicycle store Oliver's Cycle Sports tells me several USF racing team members side-by-side in double pace lines were cited by a sheriff's deputy for being in the road in the San Antonio area.
SWFBUD sent this letter to the sheriff's office this morning.
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Dear Pasco Sheriff's Office,
It has come to the attention of SWFBUD (South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers), an alliance of Tampa Bay area bicycle stores committed to growing bicycling in the Tampa Bay region, that Pasco sheriff's deputies are giving citations to bicyclists who ride on the roads of Pasco County.
Bicycles are vehicles under the law, so SWFBUD encourages all bicyclists to comply with all traffic laws.
As you know, under law, cyclists not traveling as fast as the normal speed of traffic must ride as close as practicable to the right hand curb or edge of the road. But I need to bring to your attention that there are circumstances under law that allow a bicyclist to be in the middle of the lane:
1. When passing another vehicle.
2. When making a left turn.
3. When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions such as a moving object, a parked or moving vehicle, pedestrian, animal or surface hazard.
4. When a lane is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side (a cyclist should maintain at least two feet of clearance from a curb or pavement edge and the minimum clearance for passing a bicylclist is three feet; a lane with less than 14 feet of usable width is usually too narrow for motor traffic to pass.)
I realize some Pasco County residents feel inconvenienced when they are behind a bicyclist in a traffic lane. But there are legal reasons why a bicyclist might be in the lane, such as debris along the edge of the road or a lane that is "sub-standard" in width.
I do need to request that if your deputies are handing out citations to bicyclists in Pasco County, then I do hope they are also citing motorized vehicle drivers who violate the law by "buzzing" bicyclists by not passing them with a clearance of a required minimum of THREE feet.
Director of SWFBUD