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Be aware. Ride with care.

Thanks to programs like Coast Bike Share, Tampa BayCycle and WalkWise/BikeSmart, more Tampa residents and visitors are taking advantage of the opportunities the city has to offer to cyclists. Not only is cycling a less expensive way to travel through the city, it also provides a healthy way to interact with Tampa's urban environment.

Before you head out on your first adventure, however, there are things you should consider to ensure your safety. In addition to checking the air in your tires and securing your helmet, you may not recognize the differences between the urban and suburban cycling experience or understand how important it is to make your presence known amid the sea of follow commuters. Take the time to review this information; it may prepare you for the encounters you'll have while exploring Tampa on two wheels.

1. Recognize the differences between urban and suburban riding

If you typically ride in the suburbs, your routes probably take you through wide streets that are fairly car free. Or you may travel on roads with a generous shoulder. In the urban environment, cyclists compete for space with taxis, cars, buses or even streetcars. You may be familiar with Tampa's streets as a pedestrian or motorist; the same roads have a different feel to a cyclist. Main thoroughfares that speed motorists through the city may prove too congested for a cyclist. Before you jump on your bike for your adventure, plan a route that follows side streets so that you will have more space to maneuver your bike.

2. Ride to be seen

Now is not the time to don your urban camouflage. Dress loudly so that you make your presence known. Consider wearing bright clothes or a reflective vest, especially if you are riding at dusk or in the early hours of the morning. There are also steps you can take to enhance your bike's visibility. Using front and rear lights that blink will signal to those on the road that a bike is in the vicinity; drivers use their headlights during the day and so should cyclists.

3. Realize that you may be invisible to motorists

In spite of your best intentions, you may still be invisible to motorists. Fumbling with the radio, texting or taking in the scenery, motorists can be distracted for countless reasons. When you are riding, you may come upon a situation where you will be in the right according to the rules of the road; however, your being in the right could result in an injury. As a cyclist, realize that you need to ride defensively. You may get irritated when a motorist cuts you off, but you need to recognize that your bike will not protect you from an automobile collision. Slow down so you can finish your ride safely.

Riding through the streets of Tampa can be an exhilarating way to enjoy the urban environment. Preparing for your ride can ensure your first ride will be followed by others in the future.

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Busciglio & Sheridan Law Group
3302 N. Tampa Street
Tampa, FL 33603

Phone: 813-302-1265
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