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.
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!
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.
After getting medical attention – safety first remember – call Mickey Keenan P.A.
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.