Florida Bicycle Laws: Top 10 Ways to be a Defensive Cyclist
When we’re learning how to drive a car, to protect ourselves from irresponsible drivers, we are taught to be “defensive” drivers. The same theory applies when riding a bike. In fact, maybe even more so. Last year, in Hillsborough County alone, there were over 140 bicycle accidents!
Whether you’re an avid cyclist or enjoy casual bike rides, you should always be a defensive cyclist. Mickey Keenan explains the top ten list of Florida Bicycle Laws.
Laws for Safe Cycling in Tampa Bay
Safe cycling is defensive cycling. When you ride a bike in Florida, it is important to understand your legal rights and responsibilities. Before you ride, make sure you know these Florida biking laws:
1. When a bicycle is on a road, it is considered a “vehicle” and the cyclist is the “operator” of the vehicle. This means the cyclist must abide by the same traffic rules as the driver of a car and the rules of a cyclist. If a bike is on a sidewalk, the cyclist is then considered a “pedestrian” and must follow the rules of a pedestrian and cyclist.
2. If a roadway has a marked bicycle lane, a cyclist is required to use that lane and only that lane. If there is not a designated bicycle lane, the cyclist must ride as close to the right-hand curb as possible. If the street is one-way, the cyclist must ride as close to the left-hand edge as possible.
3. When riding between sunset and sunrise, cyclists must show a bright white light on the front of a bike visible from at least 500 feet away. On the rear, a red–light reflector must be visible from at least 600 feet.
4. When cycling on a roadway, a cyclist must always ride with traffic. This is important as nearly 15% of bike-vehicle collisions are caused by cyclists riding the wrong way into oncoming traffic!
Bike accidents can cause severe harm and sadly, may even be deadly. If you’ve been involved in an accident, our Tampa personal injury law firm can help. Call us today at (813) 871-1300.
5. Because a cyclist is considered a “pedestrian” while riding on a sidewalk, he or she can ride a bike in either direction.
6. Ever hear of an arrest for biking under the influence (BUI)? Just as operators of a vehicle cannot be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, neither can a cyclist. Also, open containers of alcoholic beverages are prohibited while cycling.
7. Cyclists are prohibited from using earbuds, headphones and other listening devices (other than a hearing aid). Even though cell phones are not specified in the statutes, it’s a good idea to avoid using your cell phone while riding a bike.
8. Attention parents! All cyclists under the age of 16 must wear a fastened helmet. We understand this can be challenging, especially for parents of older children, but it’s an important law to abide by. Should your child be injured in a cycling accident and was not wearing a helmet, you could be guilty of negligence or contributory negligence.
9. When on a roadway, a cyclist must follow traffic control signals just as a driver of a car would. While on a sidewalk, a cyclist must follow the same rules as a pedestrian, i.e. crosswalk signals.
10. A violation of a Florida bicycle law is considered a noncriminal traffic infraction and is subject to a fine up to $500.
Injured in a Bicycle Accident?
After getting medical attention – safety first remember – call Mickey Keenan P.A. at (813) 871-1300.
Of course, being a defensive cyclist will lower your chances of being involved in an unfortunate bicycle-automobile accident. If you have been involved in a bicycle accident at no fault of your own, you could be entitled to damages.