Palm Beach Post: Jupiter Island, cyclists reach accord on riding safety
By BILL DIPAOLO
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 11, 2009
JUPITER ISLAND- — Bicycle riders and town officials might have reached a compromise.
Last month, the town commission was talking about restricting bike riders along the island’s lush, curvy waterfront road. But now that bike riders have agreed to limit the size and speed they travel through the island, the ordinance originally proposed for Sept. 14 has been withdrawn from the agenda.
No date has been set to consider the ordinance, said the town clerk.
“It sounds like both sides have come to an agreement. I just hope we can work together to keep both sides happy,” said Mike Ellner, owner of Cycle Science in Juno Beach.
Countywide, bicycle riders are meeting with municipal leaders to try to avoid passing new laws to restrict bicycle riding, said Jim Smith, co-founder of Safety As Floridians Expect, a bike safety group in Delray Beach.
“It’s not just Jupiter Island. Delray Beach, Boca Raton – lots of communities are trying to reach a compromise to make bike riding safer and motorists happier,” Smith said.
Bicycle riders blocking traffic when they ride four and five abreast, not pulling over for ambulances and buzzing beyond the 30 mph speed limit along South County Road caused the Jupiter Island Commission to consider the restrictions, Police Chief Ted Gonzalez said.
The riders also “draft” just a few feet behind each other, increasing the likelihood of a crash, he said.
Bicycle riders counter that they obey traffic rules. They say drivers often do not stay the required three feet away when passing them.
When Gonzalez began meeting with leaders of north county bike riding groups, he told them about the ordinance being considered.
Eager to stop the Jupiter Island Commission from bringing up the ordinance, members of the Northern Palm Beach Bicycle Club on Aug. 23 did their last Sunday morning ride through the island just north of Tequesta. The group, sometimes as many as 80 strong, now rides on U.S. 1 between Juno Beach and Port Salerno, said Jeff Orr, a Jupiter bike rider and owner of J-Town Bicycles in Juno Beach.
And no more large riding groups. When bike riders do ride through the island, there are might be half a dozen.
Jupiter Island ordinance would have required:
– All bike groups with more than 15 riders to obtain a parade permit
– A bell or horn on all bicycles
– A 4-foot-tall flag and reflectors on bicycles
– Bicycle riding restricted to certain hours
– A specific distance (undetermined) between groups of bicycles