“Be Ye Kind To One Another, Tenderhearted, and Forgiving…”
We in The Villages Bicycling Community had a great holiday season. We collaborated with the Recreation Department, Sumter Sheriff’s Office, and all three Bike Clubs to fill the Christmas stockings of nearly 400 children with new or nearly new bicycles. We’ve already started on 2022.
With all those new bikes on the roads, plus the ones that we already use, we must be “kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving” of vehicle operators and their unintentional behaviors. “Vehicle operators,” means bike riders as well as drivers of golf carts, cars, trucks, scooters, motorcycles, and so forth because all are “vehicles” as defined in Florida Traffic Laws. “Unintentional behaviors” means that mistakes happen. When Law Enforcement Officers see those mistakes, they we will issue a warning or citation to correct our errant behaviors. When we see illegal behaviors, like the golf cart that pulled out in front of my wife and me when we were riding our tandem on St. Charles at 20 MPH, we record it on our bike video cameras and turn it over to the Sheriff. The guy didn’t slow down when entering the road from the cart path and struggled to control his cart. He was going so fast that he entered the main traffic lane. We frantically adjusted our path and avoided a collision. We think this cart driver’s behavior was foolish and scary, but not malicious. Such things happen in The Villages even with its stellar biking safety record.
One of our bicycling friends reported that a vehicle whipped around him while riding and stopped directly in from of him. The driver cursed, ordered him off the road, and said that he hoped the bicyclist would get hit next time. What makes people think this way? Ignorance is my guess. My lawyer friends might call this “illegal vigilantism.” It is also technical assault because of the intimidating and threatening nature.
We teach bicycle safety and rules of the road through The Enrichment Academy. Our classes are near capacity and our students comment about learning new responsibilities as bicyclists and motorists. It is paramount that bicyclists know and observe the rules of the road. It’s just as important for motorists to know the rules and respect fellow vehicles. We regret that accidents occur but know we can reduce their number.
Take our Bike Safety class through The Enrichment Academy. Classes are under the “SPORTS” category in the Learn and Grow Course Catalogue or on the website www.TheEnrichmentAcademy@DistrictGov.org.
by Bob Jordan
Bob is a retired full-time resident of The Villages. He and his wife, Rose, log 8,000+ miles per year, mostly on their tandem.