Fort Myers Beach ordinance aims to keep bicyclists safe

Published: February 7, 2022 10:24 PM EST
Updated: February 7, 2022 10:44 PM EST

The Fort Myers Beach Town Council passed a new ordinance that requires every person to equip their bicycles with bells and lights.

Even if you’re renting a bike on Fort Myers Beach, the rental shop’s responsibility to provide these safety mechanisms and those riding the bikes have to use them. These changes will be stated in bike rental contracts moving forward.

All of this is a means to keep people safe.

Bells on handlebars and lights on the front and back of a bike are the new rules on Fort Myers Beach.

Steve Larson owns Sun-N-Fun Sport Rentals on the island. “I think safety is important. As you know, out on that street is somewhat crowded, so it’s good that bicyclists can warn pedestrians as they’re coming by. And someway besides cussing or yelling at them,” said Larson.

Larson says the ordinance was no surprise to him. His bikes were already with both of these safety mechanisms prior to Monday’s town council’s decision. And there are extra bells and lights on the shelf.

“We were pretty sure it was going to be an ordinance. So that’s why we stocked up of bells and lights and everything, so they always go out with operational bells and operational lights,” Larson said.

Fort Myers Beach Mayor Ray Murphy said that more people are biking is one reason for the ordinance. “A lot of people are taking to bicycling up and down the boulevard, and it’s becoming congested, you know. It’s becoming congested between people walking a new people riding their bikes,” said Murphy.

But when the sun goes down, it becomes much more difficult to see those bicyclists. “It’s hard enough to see out there pedestrians let alone people zooming by on bicycles at nighttime,” said Larson.

Larson says he’s in favor of the additional safety measures. Why? Because every little bit helps. “The rear lights are flashing red, or they can be flashing red, and the front light is white so you can see them. I know I can see them if I’m driving,” Larson said. “The other half of the equation is if motorists pay attention.”

Mayor Murphy says that holding the rental companies responsible will help make the island’s visitors aware of the rules. He also believes that adding bells or other noisemakers may alleviate stress for those walking on the sidewalk. They don’t always get a warning when bikes are coming.