By Margie Plunkett
Watch public service announcement
Plant signs and you might grow safety and cooperation: At least that’s the hope of a cyclists’ advocacy campaign that would use new road signs to instruct A1A motorists and bicyclists how to share the road.
The Florida Department of Transportation is working with cycling group zMotion to post bicycle safety signs with two messages at eight proposed areas on A1A, from Boca Raton to Manalapan, in a pilot program that could expand to other areas.
The signs are part of zMotion’s “Ride Right. Drive Right” campaign to make roads safer and save lives by educating motorists and cyclists to share the road, according to Mike Schweiger, CFO of Zimmerman Advertising. Schweiger is also co-founder of zMotion, the Fort Lauderdale cycling group that is footing the bill for the signs and working with the South Florida Bicycle Coalition.
The campaign was started after a reported conflict between bicyclists and motorist in Boca Raton and following the death of a young woman who was biking a year ago, Schweiger said.
Carmen Li, senior engineer in training at FDOT in Fort Lauderdale, said that the point is “mostly to better educate bicyclists and motorists to ease the conflict” between the two groups.
The state has approved the signs’ content, including one that tells motorists to give cyclists a 3-foot berth when passing. The other says cyclists should not ride more than two abreast, Li said.
It also approved, with minor modifications, a zMotion proposal that includes the placement of 16 signs, two in each of eight areas.
ZMotion must now apply for a permit from the state.
FDOT didn’t want to overdo signage.
“We don’t want it to overkill. If we have a lot of signs, it will lose its target value,” Li said. The state will study the effectiveness of the signs once they’re in place, she said.
ZMotion has spoken with municipalities in the area, Schweiger said. “They are all very supportive.” If all goes well with permitting and fabrication, Schweiger hopes to have signs in place in a month or two. The cost of posting the signs could amount to roughly $15,000 to $20,000, he estimated. Jim Smith, chairman of Safety As Floridians Expect, was glad to hear the test will go forward. Especially out-of-state motorists won’t become familiar with the requirement to give cyclists 3-foot clearance until signs are posted, he said.
SAFE has also recommended Florida enclose notices about the law with mailed registration renewals, Smith said.
The onus of safety isn’t just on the motorist, however, Smith said. “It’s a shared responsibility.”
Part of the frustration and tension between motorists and cyclists on A1A is caused by bicyclists riding more than one abreast, he said. The cyclists could contribute greatly to easing the relationship by moving to single file when they see a car coming from behind, he said.
Zimmerman Advertising employees initially formed zMotion to encourage healthy living and raise money for charity, but it has expanded its reach into the community. The A1A signs are part of a larger campaign that also includes a 30-second public service announcement and other marketing intended to educate the public.
Proposed locations for bike safety signs The following are approximate A1A locations where proposed bicycle safety signs would be placed. There will be two signs in each area, one
telling motorists to give bicyclists a three-foot clearance and the
other instructing bicyclists to ride no more than two abreast.
1. South of Camino Real at Boca Inlet.
2. South of Spanish River near
Spanish River Park.
3. Near Ambassador East condo in Highland Beach.
North of Pelican Lane and south of George Bush Boulevard in Delray
5. North of Ridge Boulevard in Ocean Ridge
6. At the intersection
of Ocean Avenue in Ocean Ridge
7. Just over the border into Manalapan,
just north of the bridge at Ocean Inlet Park
8. Just south of the Ritz
Carlton and Ocean Avenue