Bicycles can provide an excellent form of transportation, recreation, and exercise. But unfortunately, riding bicycles along our roadways can also be dangerous. According to the NHSTA, 938 bicyclists were killed in traffic crashes in 2020.
Last week, we shared what to do if you get injured in an electric bicycle or scooter accident. This week, we are providing some bicycle safety tips to help avoid a bicycle accident and to make bicycling safer for you and your loved ones.
Wear a helmet.
If you are under the age of 16, you must wear a helmet according to Florida law Fla. Stat. §316.2065(7) (2022). However, safety experts recommend that everyone wears a helmet. Make sure you are correctly wearing a helmet that fits properly. You can greatly reduce your injuries by wearing a helmet if you are in a bicycle accident.
Bicycles can be hard to see, especially at night. Wearing light-colored or reflective clothing can help make you more visible. At night, you must have lights on your bicycle. Florida law requires that “every bicycle in use between sunset and sunrise shall be equipped with a lamp on the front exhibiting a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and a lamp and reflector on the rear each exhibiting a red light visible from a distance of 600 feet to the rear.” Fla. Stat. §316.2065(7) (2022). This is just the minimum, additional lights can’t hurt. Furthermore, staying visible can greatly reduce your injuries if you are in a bicycle accident.
Be familiar with the traffic laws.
Florida has numerous laws that apply to bicyclists. According to the Florida Bicycle Association, Traffic Law highlights include:
Bicycle Regulations (see Section 316.2065, F.S.)
- A bicyclist must obey all traffic controls and signals.
- A bicyclist must use a fixed, regular seat for riding.
- No bicycle may be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed or equipped.
- Parents and guardians must not knowingly allow a child or minor ward to violate any provisions of this section.
- Every bicycle must be equipped with a brake or brakes which allow the rider to stop within 25 feet from a speed of 10 miles per hour on dry, level, clean pavement.
Sidewalk Riding (see Section 316.2065, F.S.)
- When riding on sidewalks or in crosswalks, a bicyclist has the same rights and duties as a pedestrian.
- A bicyclist riding on sidewalks or in crosswalks must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and must give an audible signal before passing.
Lighting (see Section 316.2065, F.S.)
- A bicycle operated between sunset and sunrise must be equipped with a lamp on the front exhibiting a white light visible from 500 feet to the front and both a red reflector and a lamp on the rear exhibiting a red light visible from 600 feet to the rear.
- Additional lighting is permitted and recommended.
Roadway Position (see Section 316.2065, F.S.)
- A bicyclist who is not traveling at the same speed of other traffic must ride in a designated bike lane (see Bike Lane Law Explained in the left tab menu) or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway. A bicyclist may leave the right-most portion of the road in the following situations: when passing another vehicle moving in the same direction; when preparing for a left turn; when reasonably necessary to avoid any condition or potential conflict including, but not limited to, a fixed or moving object, parked or moving vehicle, pedestrian , animal, surface hazard, or turn lane; when a lane is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side. (see Roadway Position Explained in the left tab menu)
- A bicyclist operating on a one-way street with two or more traffic lanes may ride as close to the left-hand edge of the roadway as practicable.
- Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Persons riding two abreast shall not impede traffic when traveling at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions existing, and shall ride within a single lane. (see Impeding Traffic Explained in the left tab menu)
Left Turns (see Section 316.151 (1)(b)(c), F.S.)
- A bicyclist intending to make a vehicle left turn is entitled to full use of the lane from which the turn is made. After scanning, signaling, and moving to the center of that lane, the bicyclist must check the signal, then proceed when it is green and safe to do so.
- In addition to the normal vehicle left turn, a bicyclist may proceed through the right-most portion of the intersection and turn as close to the curb or edge as possible at the far side. After complying with any official traffic control device, the bicyclist may proceed in the new direction.
Signaling Turns (see Sub-section 316.155(2) and 316.157(2), F.S.)
- A signal of intention to turn must be given during the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning. If a bicyclist needs both hands for control, the signal need not be given continuously.
- A bicyclist may signal intent to turn right either by extending the left hand and arm upward or by extending the right hand and arm horizontally to the right side of the bicycle.
Headsets (see Section 316.304, F.S.)
- A bicyclist may not wear a headset, headphone, or other listening device other than a hearing aid when riding. Wearing a headset blocks out important audio clues needed to detect the presence of other traffic.
Civil Penalties (see Sub-section 318.18(1),(2),&(3), F.S.)
- Non-moving violations, such as failure to use required lighting equipment when riding at night, failure to have working brakes
- Moving violations, such as running stop sign or signal, riding against traffic
- Violations of Chapter 316, F.S. by a bicyclist 14 years of age or younger
The local governments of counties, cities, towns, and other municipalities can adopt ordinances regulating bicycle riding. Some towns may also have registration and licensing ordinances. Sidewalk riding may be prohibited entirely or only in certain areas such as business districts. Local law enforcement agencies can provide copies of local ordinances.
Operation on limited access highways
[FBA continues to work with FDOT to modify this section to provide access to bridges and other roads where there are no surface street options to access destinations]
[§316.091] No person shall operate a bicycle on a limited access facility, except as otherwise provided. No person shall operate a bicycle on an interstate highway.
The Florida Department of Transportation and Florida’s Pedestrian & Bicycle Focused Initiative have numerous free resources on their websites regarding bicycle safety, such as a summary of bicycle signs and signals, lane sharing tips, a bicycle helmet fitment guide, bicycle safety videos, and more.
Contact a qualified attorney as quickly as possible if you are in a bicycle accident. Even if you think the accident was your fault or you’re unsure, we can immediately conduct an investigation. The laws that apply to bicycles are complex and not always clear-cut. The experienced lawyers at The Fina Law Firm can help you put the evidence and law together to determine if someone is responsible for your injury.
We’re happy to walk you through the process and answer any questions you may have. If you’d like to set up a free consultation today, give us a call at 904-878-2379 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org