Professional race car drivers, triathletes, cyclists, and sports commentators were just a few riding more than 60 miles from St. Augustine to Daytona International Speedway on February 17 to show support for bicyclist safety.
NASCAR driver Scott Lagasse Jr. organized Champions Ride for Bicycle Safety for the second year in a row, and this year, there was even more focus to the issue.
“These guys are pretty important people. People we follow. People we look up to” said Lagasse just before the ride. “They came here to help us spread the message that we’re not just an object on the road, we are real people! Our bike just happens to be our vehicle of choice at the moment.”
In Florida, cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as other drivers on the road, and Lagasse, who logs more than 100 miles each week on his bike, takes that seriously. Lagasse is a spokesperson for Alert Today Florida, a campaign launched in 2012 by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to increase public awareness of pedestrian and bicyclist safety and to drive down fatalities on Florida’s roadways.
“Increasing awareness is key to reducing bicycle crashes” said Noranne Downs, FDOT District Five Secretary. “Scotty, as we call him, gets it. He’s out there, dealing with cycling challenges every day. The fact that he brought NASCAR champions like Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth, and professional cycling champion Christian Vande Velde (to name a few) together for this ride shows just how much he gets it.”
Team members from Alert Today Florida will be onsite through the weekend providing motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists safety tips and encouraging everyone to take a pledge to walk, bike, and drive safely every trip, every time.
“Every life counts” said Trenda McPherson, FDOT State Bicycle Pedestrian Safety Program Manager. “No matter what mode of transportation you choose to use, human or gas powered, we all have a right to get to your destination safely.”
Becky Afonso, Executive Director of Florida Bicycle Association and Alert Today Florida team member hopes this ride puts a “positive spin” on cycling. “Bicycling is an everyday means of transportation for some and this is often overlooked by the more visible recreational cyclists on the roads” she said. “Scotty, fellow NASCAR racers, and everyone riding today are those visible cyclists demonstrating the legal right for bicyclists to be on the road, and to obey the laws.”
Alert Today Florida encourages everyone to enjoy the Florida sunshine by bike. Whether you ride for health, transportation, or recreation, here are some tips to help you stay safe on the road:
- Always ride in the direction of traffic when riding on the roadway
- Use bike lights, front and rear, and wear bright colored or reflective clothing when riding at night
- Remember, your bike is your vehicle. Always signal your intentions when turning or changing lanes so drivers know what to expect
- Watch for cyclists. Especially at night
- Check the bike lane on your right before making that turn, just in case a cyclist is there
- Always move over and give cyclists space to ride safely. 3 feet minimum
- Get rid of the distractions. It only takes a second to take a life.
Everyone: Share the Road and Stay Alert! Every Trip, Every Time!
For more information on the Alert Today Florida campaign, please visit our website at www.alerttodayflorida.com.
(Thanks to FDOT’s Central Office, District Five in Central Florida and Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) for providing this information, video and photos.)