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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Program teaches bicycle, pedestrian safety in community

Students, new and old, should not just be focused on when and where their classes are, but more along the lines of how they will be getting there, said Dekova T. Batey, the Bicycle/Pedestrian Program Coordinator for City of Gainesville Public Works.

Batey said the program is "like a clearing house for bicycle and walking safety awareness."

The program puts on community events to teach bicycle and pedestrian safety and promotes bicycling in the community. "On campus, it's an isolated situation where you're more prone to ride a bicycle and get around in a very convenient manner. New students need to be aware of walking and bicycle safety because those are main modes of transportation on a campus," Batey said.

Batey said drivers and cyclists believe they know safety regulations.

He said not all realize all the rules of sharing the road.

Mike Heneks, 18, a freshman majoring in accounting at UF, said he knows all there is to know about bicycling safety.

"You have the same rights as cars. You have to obey speed limits and stop signs," Heneks said.

Correct. But he is forgetting another huge factor when it comes to sharing the road.

"There is a lot of singular focus," Batey said.

"A lot of the time you have people that are driving automobiles, and they don't really consider other people who are not in that same mode."

Caitlin McDaniel, a 19-year-old electrical engineering major at UF, said she's experienced with bicycling to her classes. She had a little advice for new freshman cyclists:

"Be really careful and avoid biking around a lot of people. I've seen it go very bad for all people involved. Make sure you know where you're supposed to be biking, especially at intersections," she said.

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She admits, though, that she does not follow all safety guidelines.

"When I'm off campus, I always do, but on campus, I'm pretty bad about wearing a helmet," she said.

McDaniel is not the only to not wear helmets. Heneks was on the same page, saying that when he rode a bike he rarely wore one, either.

Even though several students at UF do not wear helmets while biking, according to Batey, they are not breaking any rules.

"In Florida, the law is that if you're under 16, you are required to wear a helmet, so its optional for those who are 16 and above," he said.

Batey and the Bicycle/Pedestrian Program still recommends helmets, "no matter what age."

"Now we have a lot of distracted driving. People are using cellphones and all types of electronic devices while they're driving, and that distraction may cause those thinking they're behaving safely to still be hit."

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