Police Officer Robert McAllister of the Ocean Ridge Police Department
wrote up four different bicyclists who ran a red light on A1A.
Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
By Rich Pollack
Law enforcement officers along the coast of Palm Beach County – from Boca Raton to Manalapan – were out in force earlier this month as part of a continuing effort to educate bicyclists and motorists about laws designed to make roads safer for both.
In a joint effort coordinated by the South Florida Safe Roads Task Force, police officers from several cities and towns patrolled State Road A1A on Tuesday April 1 as part of a weeklong initiative aimed at reducing accidents involving bicycles, pedestrians and motor vehicles.
“All of the agencies involved in the South Florida Safe Roads Task Force are looking to create awareness of the major issues that are causing serious injuries and fatalities,” said task force spokesperson Tara Kirschner, executive director of the Dori Slosberg Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to traffic safety. “There are many safety concerns that need to be addressed and resolved.”
During the April 1 coordinated effort, police officers and Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputies kept a close eye on the often-narrow stretches of A1A from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., stopping bicyclists and motorists and reminding them of the need to share the road with one another.
In Ocean Ridge, police officers stopped five bicyclists and one motorist during the enforcement effort, with three of the violators receiving warnings and three receiving citations.
“We had three violations in just the first 15 minutes,” said Ocean Ridge Police Chief Chris Yannuzzi. “These violations are happening all the time. We should be thankful there aren’t more accidents.”
At the Boynton Inlet, sheriff deputies focused on educating pedestrians, writing several warnings to those crossing A1A and not using the marked crosswalk.
“Our whole aim is voluntary compliance from pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists,” says Highland Beach police Lt. Eric Lundberg, who helped get the task force started.
Two priorities for the task force are making sure bicyclists are aware of the law requiring them to ride no more than two abreast and not impede the flow of traffic when doing so, and that motorists are aware of the law requiring them to give bicycles at least 3 feet of clearance.
“Through education, we hope to change the attitudes of motorists toward cyclists and cyclists toward motorists,” Kirschner said.
As part of its effort, the task force and the Florida Department of Transportation late last month placed six electronic message boards along A1A that read “Vehicle Bicycle Safety Campaign in Effect.”
The boards are giving travelers an indication of stepped-up enforcement efforts and also serve as a reminder of the need to keep roads safe for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers.
Task force members will review the result of the initial weeklong effort and are expected to continue with the initiative later in the year.
“The majority of bicyclists and motorists follow the rules of the road,” says Highland Beach Police Chief Craig Hartmann. “What we want to do is educate that small percentage who don’t or who may not be aware of the rules.”