Safety on and off the Beaches of 30A
With our beaches becoming more and more populated with visitors each year, we thought we’d share some laws, rules and etiquettes that are expected to be followed while vacationing in South Walton. Be aware – Be alert - Be safe!
Bicycles are a fun and increasingly popular way to explore 30A. But whether you travel with your own bicycle or rent a bike from a local vendor, it’s important to know and follow the local biking rules before hitting the road.
- When you are riding your bike, you need to act like you’re driving a car. And when you’re walking your bike, you need to act like a pedestrian. That means you ride your bike in the same direction as the traffic (not against it). You should NOT ride your bike on 30A – there is a clearly marked bicycle path (the Timpoochee Trail) that runs along the entire length and parallel to 30A.
- Follow all traffic signs and signals. Because riding your bike requires you to abide by the same traffic signs and signals as a car, you need to come to a full stop at all stop signs and obey all traffic lights.
- Know the pecking order. Bikes yield to pedestrians and cars yield to both bikes and pedestrians. If you are riding your bike, you need to yield to all pedestrians in a crosswalk, just like you would in an automobile. And if you want to use the crosswalk to cross the street, you need to hop off your bike and slip into pedestrian mode to walk it within the stiped lines of the crosswalk.
- Use biking hand signals. When riding a bike, the indicator is your left arm. Know biking hand signals and use them before turning right or left. And just like you should always look over your shoulder before making a lane change in a car, you must do the same when riding a bike. To turn left, your left arm should be straight out; to turn right, turn your arm up at the elbow.
- Stay to the right and pass on the left. Be sure to keep to the right side of the Timpoochee Trail. When you need to pass a pedestrian or a slower bicycle, be sure to announce your intention by ringing your bicycle bell (if you have one) and/or saying, “On your left.”
- Know and follow all state and city specific helmet laws. Florida law stipulates that all riders under the age of 16 must wear a helmet while riding a bike. The helmet must be properly fitted and securely fastened to your head by a strap.
- If you do ride your bike on 30A (which is highly discouraged), stay on the right side of the road, generally within about three feet of the white line on the right side of the road.
- Because the rules of the road for motorized vehicles also apply to bicycles, you should never, ever ride a bike under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances.
- Do not use your cell phone while riding a bike – this includes both speaking and texting.
- Finally, be predictable, stay alert at all times, look before turning and watch for parked cars.
Walton County laws for golf carts include:
- Drivers must have a valid driver’s license.
- Golf carts are only legal on roads with a speed limit of 35 MPH or less.
- All passengers must be restrained.
- Drive sober – no open containers.
- No texting.
Now for some local etiquette - When driving golf carts along 30A, please stay to the right of the road. Even along non-passing areas of 30A, vehicles are better able to get around you when safe to help the backup of vehicular traffic that may be behind you. As well, be aware of traffic buildup behind you and when able, pull over to allow traffic flow to pass.
Lock Your Cars…and Your Vacation Home
In 2021, there were 153 vehicle burglaries in South Walton, 96% of which were in unlocked vehicles. 30 guns were stolen out of unlocked vehicles. Tourist locations are a magnet for this – don’t be a victim, lock your vehicle.
As well, please treat your vacation home as you would your own – keep all doors and windows locked when you’re not at the house and especially upon your departure. Vacation home burglaries and vandalism do occasionally happen in South Walton. The most common time burglaries take place is between 10AM and 3PM, while most vandalism will happen during the overnight hours. Most burglars will enter through the front door and, at times, may knock first to see if anyone is home. Unlocked doors and windows are an open invitation for an intruder; the average time a burglar spends in a home is 8-12 minutes.
Know before you go and follow the Walton County beach rules:
- Stay safe; obey all flag warnings.
- Leave no trace – items left on the beach overnight will be discarded.
- Permits are required for bonfires; permits to have dogs, or to drive, on the beach are not available to visitors.
- No glass containers are allowed.
- No tents larger than 10x10 are permitted and must be set up on the top 1/3 of the beach.
- A 15’ setback from dunes and water line is required for emergency vehicles.
- No charcoal grills are permitted.
- Propane grills may be permitted if 16” x 20” or smaller.
- Removal of sand, water or vegetation is strictly prohibited.
- Keep off the dunes.
Beach flag warnings – for Gulf conditions and flag updates, text “SAFETY’ to 31279:
- Double Red flag – Water closed to public; $500 fine if violated.
- Single Red flag – High surf and/or strong currents.
- Yellow flag – Medium hazard; moderate surf and/or currents.
- Green flag – Low hazard; calm conditions, exercise caution.
- Purple flag – Stinging marine life (man o’ war, jellyfish, stingrays)