Bicycle safety addressed during Florida Bike Month

Groups in the Tampa area are working to raise bicycle safety awareness through Florida’s Bike Month, and USF officials are encouraging students to become more aware of safety issues on campus.

Events for Bike Month will focus on safer riding habits as well as promoting increased bicycle use to alleviate congestion on the roads, stay fit, save money and have fun.

“Bike Month is great because it will encourage students to use their bikes more around campus,” said Bruce Benson, vice president of public safety at USF.

The main focus of Bike Month is to promote better  bicycle rider safety techniques.

“Events are being advertised to get the word out about bicycling and safety precautions for better riding,” said Jason Jackman, program outreach coordinator for the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR). “Safety is the main priority and always a concern for cyclists.”

Many students use bicycles because they are an easy and efficient way to go to classes around campus, Jackman said. The convenience of bicycles around USF makes it important for students and drivers sharing the road to do so safely.

“Communication is important when bicyclists share the road with drivers,” Jackman said. “When riding a bike, the cyclists should use eye contact with drivers to make sure
drivers see (them).”

Benson said University Police has a full police force that includes members trained specifically to ride bicycles. Allied Barton Security guards also patrol the campus to keep bikers and their belongings safe.

UP spokeswoman Meg Ross stressed the importance of the interaction between vehicles and bicyclists.

“Students just need to remember to stay visible to drivers by having reflectors and lights when riding at night, as well as following road rules in order to share the road better with motor vehicles,” Ross said.

Because there are not many accidents, Benson said, no additional security measures are in the works to protect bicyclists.

“Right now our campus has very few bicycle accidents per year, and if this were a more pressing issue then there would be more security measures put into place than what we have now,” he said.

Jackman said Bike Month is aimed at the growing number of riders that results from the warmer weather and Spring Break for students. Events will help students and others understand how to keep themselves safe when on a bike.

“Many people are eager to get out and ride their bikes, and for everyone to ride safely is important,” Jackman said.

Some students said safely biking around campus is not a big concern.

“I have never felt unsafe while riding around campus, but off campus on Fowler and Fletcher where traffic is an issue makes it harder to feel completely safe,” said Megan Malek a sophomore engineering major.

Students also said it was important to keep bikes locked.

“A lot of students here do worry about their bikes getting stolen and should keep their bikes safe by locking them up to bike racks,” said Anthony D’Angelo, a junior chemical engineering major.

Events scheduled throughout the Tampa Bay area are aimed at raising safety
awareness and promoting bike riding.

An Urban Street Skills class taught Friday at noon, by a certified bike instructor will take place at the Tampa Downtown Partnership to inform the public on better safety techniques when riding in the Tampa Bay area.

Bike to Work Day on March 20 was created to encourage biking and alleviate road  

The largest event for the month, the Tampa Twilight Criterium on March 21 in Lykes Park, will feature amateur and professional circuit cycling races as well as a
decorated bicycle parade for enthusiasts.