Below are the communications between Ryan Scofield and The Collier County Sheriff’s Office. These are posted as reference for the “Meet Ryan Scofield” blog post.
Good Morning Sheriff Rambosk,
I began commuting via bicycle last year after selling my car in an initiative to save money, lose weight, save gas, and have more fun! This has been incredibly successful, and I only regret not doing it sooner. Bicycling has been a life changing experience and continues to bring me joy day in and day out. I even rode 104 miles one day, and the following day I couldn’t wait to hop back on to go to work.
I initially was riding in a typical fashion, on sidewalks, cutting through parking lots, ignoring stop signs, filtering through the traffic queue, etc. One of the roads that I utilize is Airport-Pulling Rd, as seen in the video. After realizing that bicycles should be in the road, I made a few attempts at riding down this busy road in traffic during rush hour. Instinctively, I was riding all the way to right side of the right most travel lane. This is what I thought was the law and where I was required to stay. Well, it only took a few attempts and several VERY close brushes with cars squeezing by within the lane to convince me to get back on the sidewalk. I remember thinking and telling my wife that it’s not worth the risk, I’ll just take the sidewalk.
As I continued to use the sidewalk, I encountered numerous hazards and conflicts that just didn’t feel natural. Aside from the rough terrain of the sidewalks, there are so many dangerous situations that arise when riding on the sidewalks. This method didn’t seem right, either.
I began to do some research on the internet, and came across several sources for great information. I was confident with this information because of the sources providing it. These weren’t some abstract web pages run by random people. These were government based or endorsed sources. The FDOT website has a lot of great information about how to safely ride a bicycle in Florida on the roads that they design. The Florida Bicycle Association also is an amazing source for clear concise descriptions of the law and how they apply. Then comes other sites like Iamtraffic.org and CyclingSavvy.org. These websites go above and beyond and provide graphics, animations, and real life situational videos showing these practices in use.
Great, problem solved! I began riding in this manner and really starting enjoying my freedom on the road and safe commuting. Conflicts were all but eliminated once I put these methods to use. One big problem remained though, a majority of other people did not understand this, and thought I was riding dangerously and trying to ‘prove a point’. Unfortunately, this included the law enforcement officers that witnessed my riding.
I was pulled over three times by officers insisting that I need to move over to the right side of the lane. At this point, I had educated myself enough to know that this was dangerous information. I felt very uncomfortable disagreeing and not cooperating with the officers, but I knew that my own safety was at stake and couldn’t risk that. In all three instances, the officers were of the same mindset that I was impeding other motorists. This is the one of the major issues that needs to be cleared up now.
We all have a great opportunity now to come together and fix this problem. We will need your help in this matter, ensuring that the public’s perception of these techniques is influenced correctly. I am not an attorney or a spokesperson for a large organization, and I am relatively new to the cycling world. I have a high school education, work a regular blue collar job, have a wife and two dogs, and love to bicycle. Because of the recent events, I have been in the spotlight and gaining a lot of new cycling and non-cycling friends that want to help out. We are very passionate and sometimes frustrated when this issue comes up. Many people have been dealing with this issue for a while now and have worked hard for change. I fully intend to capitalize on this great momentum that we have going now, and would love to get your support in that journey.
Thank you for your time,
On behalf of Sheriff Rambosk, thank you for your email and for letting us know of your concerns.
We admire your commitment to cycling safety and welcome your interest in working together in this opportunity we all have to keep Collier County a great and safe place.
We value our existing partnership with the Naples Pathway Coalition and the Naples Velo Community and hope you can join in on these collaborative efforts focused on addressing the opportunities to improve the safety of our roadways for all. Together, we have produced an informative video addressing some of these issues: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yC9K6KJaBy8&feature=youtu.be
We are always interested in discussing how we can increase safety awareness and I hope you will contact me with your thoughts and ideas. I look forward to speaking with you further on this important subject.
Chief Stephanie Spell
Community Engagement Department
Collier County Sheriff’s Office
Thank you for responding to my email, and thank you for the link to that video. It’s nice to showcase our local bicycling facilities that are in place, and to know that you are committed to safety. It’s that commitment that reassures me that we will tackle the issue at hand.
This video does a good job of explaining basic bicycle skills when traveling in bicycle lanes that are well marked and maintained. The problem begins when those bicycle lanes end. A majority of our roads in Collier County, and across the country for that matter, do not have bicycle lanes. Some of these roads are major arterials, some are small side streets. A person watching this video would be inclined to stay in the right most portion of the road at all times without a bike lane, because that’s the location of the bike lane on the other roads. And this video does not address those situations where there is no bike lane.
I understand that this subject is hard to talk about, it’s quite taboo I’ve learned. But until we discuss lane control specifically, we will continue to have misunderstandings, accidents, and deaths directly attributed to lane control. It is very important that both cyclists and the motorists interacting with them have this knowledge going forward in Collier County.
Most importantly we need you on our side with this issue. I won’t attach a bunch of links and statutes in this email, I think that they have been quite visible on social media this week. I would like to ask you what I can do to make this process easier for everyone. There is a lot at stake here, and now is the time to rectify this problem before anyone else gets hurt. Please do the right thing.
I just received an email reply from the sheriff’s representative this morning, and she would like to speak with me early next week on the phone. I am looking forward to presenting her with some ideas that we can use going forward. I’m glad that they are working with us on this, and am thankful for their efforts to reach out to me. I will of course report back on the progress that we make!