As tourism numbers break records on Anna Maria Island, so goes the traffic in Holmes Beach, the most central and largest of the three Island municipalities.
The Holmes Beach Police Department is hoping to get the word out to motoring residents and visitors alike to plan ahead, be patient and careful, and avoid accidents.
HBPD Lt. Dale Stephenson recalled two accidents last year, one where two people on bicycles were hit by a motorist near the Kingfish Boat Ramp, and another where a motorist side swiped a bicyclist.
“This time of year, the big problem are motorists passing on the right, going off road, into the bike lane,” said Stephenson. “It’s a huge issue and violation of state statute,” he added.
State laws prohibit a driver from driving off the pavement or main-traveled portion of the lane/roadway to pass on the right. They also require drivers pass bicyclists at a safe distance — allowing no less than 3 feet between the vehicle and the bicycle. An infraction is a noncriminal traffic violation, but punishable as a moving violation.
“Nobody wants to wait,” Stephenson acknowledged. “But people just need to remember at this time of the year, if you need to go into town, to leave five to10 minutes early, and understand there’s going to be a back up.”
He also reminded bicyclists to ride in the same direction as traffic, and to exercise common sense and caution while biking.