Stay Fit, Stay Safe; tips on biking for positive results

  • Published
  • By Col. Ken Lewis
  • 927th Air Refuling Wing Commander
Fitness is very important not only for military qualifications but also for individual health. As the emphasis on being physically fit grows so does the number of people we see in the MacDill AFB fitness center and on the running paths. The number of bicycle riders on the base has risen as well. I am one of those riders. I crank out around 100 to 150 miles a week on the roads of MacDill AFB. Lately the rider population on Tuesdays and Thursdays has doubled. With the increase in bicyclers we need to increase awareness on the part of motor vehicle operators sharing the roads. We also need bicycle riders to adhere to rules of the road. With the combined effort we can all remain safe while driving and exercising. SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT!!! Before a cyclist takes to the streets he or she needs to ensure they have a good helmet, reflective clothing if required and certainly lights on front and back if riding at night. Bicyclists who use the roads will normally stay to the right hand side and within the bike lane if one is present. If there is no lane, the cyclist should stay close to the white line on the right. Bicyclists using the roads need to stop at stop signs and stop lights. It all seems simple but there are some areas for concern. When a cyclist is using the road and wishes to turn left, they are expected to signal and then merge into the left lane. They will follow the traffic signals through the turn and then stay to the right side of the road or in the bike lane after the turn. Right hand turns still require the proper adherence to traffic signals. The groups of riders on MacDill AFB contain some exceptional athletes with years of cycling experience. The speeds they travel are sometimes consistent with the speed limits on base. These groups will normally ride single file but will often take the right lane especially if the road is in poor condition on the right side. They will abide by all the same rules of the road described above.
The motorist/cyclist relationship must be one of mutual respect with safety as the #1 priority. The base populace needs to be aware that there are many cyclists sharing the roads. Look for them while driving; . Undersome are traveling as fast as cars and some are going slower. While you should expect them to follow the rules of the road, give them enough space to avoid hitting them if mistakes are made. Since some of these cyclists are traveling upwards of 25 to 30 miles per hour you need to give them the same space you would give any motor vehicle. Avoid pulling out in front of them while. Avoid passing them and then turning in front of them. When passing a cyclist move completely over to the next lane instead of squeezing between them and oncoming vehicles. Watch for their signals especially when approaching an intersection. Areas for special vigilance on MacDill AFB include; the stop light south of the Bayshore gate where many cyclists will signal and, enter the left lane for a left hand turn and the area south of the MacDill gate where the traffic cones force riders into the right lane. Also riders often move from the bike lane to the left lane in order to make a left onto the boundary road towards the control tower. Vigilance and simple courtesy on the part of both rider and motorist will help keep everyone safe. MacDill AFB is a beautiful place and with a little emphasis on safety, we can all enjoy it together.