Soon-To-Be-Mandatory Florida Pedestrian Laws (Part 2)

The Insurance Pedaler

Pinellas County's Bicycling Insurance Man

So, I see that you actually came back to read Part 2 of Soon-To-Be-Mandatory Florida Pedestrian Laws!

And yes, I know that you have all waited a long time for Part 2 and my brilliant solution to one of the most pressing issues in our state, but I think you will find that the wait has been worth your patience. I am now prepared to unveil the ingenious solution to the unique (?) problem we have in Florida where bicyclists riding on sidewalks have been classified as pedestrians.

If you are reading this without having first read Part 1 of this topic, I strongly suggest you do so now before reading any further. For those of you who read Part 1 only to suffer withdrawal symptoms from my delay in getting Part 2 to press, the resolution is now at hand for the problem of mixing real pedestrians on sidewalks with oft speeding bicycles yet treating them both equal in rights and responsibilities under the law.

[Drum roll, please!]

Even if you read Part I, I will reiterate here that there are two major safety issues on our sidewalks: the speed differential between the various users of often congested sidewalks, and vehicular traffic crossing sidewalks almost as if the drivers are not aware that sidewalk cross-traffic even exists unless a pedestrian is actually in the intersected area already. This is why yours truly believes that riding a bicycle on the street with traffic is safer for all but the most inexperienced bicyclists than trying to negotiate the mixed bag of users, uneven surfaces, and dangerous potential cross traffic at every driveway, parking lot entrance, and roadway intersection–especially those intersections without traffic signals.

But since you are here not for my singular eloquence with the written word, but rather for my genius in solving difficult problems with simple and efficient solutions. The particular issue that is resolved with this new sidewalk safety device is the problem with speed differentials on sidewalks between the bicycle “pedestrians” and ambulating (walking) pedestrians. There is also another type of sidewalk user that has not been thoroughly analyzed, the disabled/partially disabled/too-out-of-shape-to-walk that use the Hoverround-type motorized chairs. Some of them babies (pardon the colloquial) can zip right along at speeds that range between the average walking pedestrian and those of the speedier bicycling pedestrian.

The new sidewalk pedestrian safety device that has been invented and is being unveiled here first, will shortly be presented to Florida legislators so they will finally be able to update the statute they enacted that surreptitiously changed a bicyclist into a pedestrian when that bicyclist is riding on a sidewalk or crosswalk. The change in the law that that they will be forced to make when introduced to this incredible life saving technology will essentially make the use of this device a requirement for pedestrians. As such, it will be presented to cities and counties throughout Florida for their immediate endorsement and inclusion in their own local statutes.

It was quite evident to me during the carefully deliberation I conducted on the conundrum that exists when bicyclists share sidewalks with pedestrians—whether they are old and slow-moving, are disabled and riding Hoverrounds, or are small children and/or babies in the company of an adult—that the responsibility of safe conduct rests squarely on the shoulders of the (walking) pedestrian and not on the bicyclist. Why? A bicyclist moving along a narrow sidewalk at 10 to 15 miles an hour cannot be expected to guess what a pedestrian will do or not do at the precise moment the cyclist overtakes or passes the (real) pedestrian in the opposite direction. Nor can a bicyclist be reasonably expected to stop and give way. It would be too inconvenient for them. Besides, they are pedestrians too, are they not?

In the mountains, for example, on single-track trails a descending (and therefore rapidly moving) mountain bike rider has the right-of-way over hikers and mountain bikers that are ascending the trail (hill). Why? [Well, at least you are paying attention because you're asking questions!] Again, the answer is logic and common sense.

If logic and common sense prevails here, and of course it must be since I am the one who is writing this; and furthermore since I have analyzed this situation thoroughly using the best scientific method available (mine), then one can only conclude that the solution I have come up with is nothing short of Promethean.

I now present you with “WALK-SAFE”, the pedestrian safety headgear; and soon-to-be-mandated for use by all pedestrians on all Florida sidewalks. WALK-SAFE is designed to let the faster pedestrians—bicyclists and the Evel Knievel Hoverround pilots (you know who you are!)—know exactly what you as a pedestrian are intending to do while you are walking along a sidewalk, even before you do it!

And remember, you saw it here first!

Florida Walk-Safe (Click here for video presentation of WALK-SAFE)

Since walking on public thoroughfares is essentially a right (not a “privilege,” like driving a car), the State of Florida and local jurisdictions such as cities and counties, will purchase this device from the manufacturer and distribute it free of charge to citizens who must use the sidewalks for walking. Bicyclists will not be required to obtain any WALK-SAFE devices, but this is the natural order of things given the physics of bicycling versus walking, and since it was the Florida legislature that created this Pedestrian = Bicyclist/Bicyclist = Pedestrian law in the first place. Therefore, it is only fair that they equip hapless ambulating pedestrians with a safety device that will help protect them from the speeding, mechanically-assisted “pedestrians” who are using the same narrow pathways, sidewalks, and crosswalks.

Naturally, Tea Party Republicans and their sympathizers will be first in line to support spending the money on this device since they are, by definition, the very ones who attempt to block federal and state transportation bills that set aside a miniscule percentage of the money for funding bicycle lanes and other bicycle transportation programs that serve to encourage bicycle use to help reduce our dependence on foreign oil, reduce traffic congestion in our cities, create healthier lifestyles for Americans,  and simultaneously get more cyclists off sidewalks where they threaten old people and children and back onto designated bicycle lanes and wide shoulder areas where they are most appropriate.

This government-mandated and sponsored first generation of WALK-SAFE devices will employ an inexpensive and simple to operate hand-held or belt-mounted wireless signaling device to relay the pedestrian’s intention to the head-mounted display, whether it be to turn, slow down, or stop, etc.

In the future (for only a couple of thousand dollars) a pedestrian will have the option to upgrade, at their own expense, to a new generation of the WALK-SAFE device that will be able to predict the intention of the pedestrian even before they themselves know what they are going to do. It will use algorithms I am currently developing based on factors such as eye movement, heart rate,  respiration rate, blood pressure, hormone changes, biorhythms, ambient temperature and humidity, the proximity of electrical storms, timing of the last known argument with the spouse or kids, etc. It should prove to be popular as a status symbol–what the cool pedestrians will be wearing.

I do know what you are thinking. Because I am so incredibly intelligent, perceptive, good-looking—and have the public’s welfare and safety at heart, many of you will be clamoring to support me running for state senator or possibly even governor of the State of Florida. Well, I do appreciate the thought. But I can tell you unequivocally that my publicist is telling me that I should tell you that I am not a candidate for any political office either now or in the foreseeable future and that I am happy to remain Florida and Pinellas County’s only “bicycling insurance man.”

Nonetheless, if you are truly appreciative of all I have presented to you today, this is what you can do for me. The next time you see a very large cyclist riding down the side of the road (not on the sidewalk) wearing a Hawaiian shirt and riding a dark grey bicycle with black saddle bags, please give him (me) a little extra room as you pass by. And when you honk your approval, not only for the inspired invention of WALK-SAFE but for the contribution I make to preserving our environment by eschewing motorized vehicles, a couple of taps on the horn will suffice. And if you want to wave, cyclists are quite partial to gestures where all fingers are fully extended while waving your hand in friendship. And if I notice you, I promise I will wave back in appreciation.

The Insurance Pedaler



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