Bicycles have seen a surge in popularity since the pandemic started. Heightened anxiety regarding public transportation combined with the public’s greater desire to stay healthy brought about a bicycle boom reminiscent of that in the early 1970s.
If you’re one of the many people who came out of lockdown with a newfound love for cycling, then it would greatly benefit you to review the laws of the road. As any Florida bicycle accident lawyer can attest, bicycle accidents are nothing to scoff at. In 2021, bicycle crashes in Florida alone reached a total of 6,399 and caused 5,972 injuries. Failure to pay attention to proper bicycle laws in Florida seriously increases your risk of crashing and sustaining a serious injury.
Basic Bicycle Rules and Regulations
As per Florida law, bicycles count as vehicles. This gives you and other cyclists the same rights and responsibilities on the road as any car, truck, or motor vehicle. This means that you also need to follow all basic regulations and rules of the road, such as:
- Observing the right of way
- Obeying all traffic signs and lights
- Following the flow of traffic
- Ensuring proper lighting
One of the most important rules regarding bicycle riding is to always keep at least one hand on the handlebars at all times. All bicycle riders are strongly encouraged to wear helmets at all times, but bicyclists ages 16 and below are required by law to wear properly fastened helmets.
Cyclists must also ensure their bikes are equipped with proper brakes. Their bikes must be able to stop within 25 feet from a speed of at least 10 miles per hour while riding on clean, dry, and level pavement.
All state bicycle regulations and traffic laws are found in the 2016 Florida Statutes, chapter 316, section 2065. Below are some of the traffic law highlights that all cyclists need to know and follow.
Bicycle Lighting Requirements
There is no lighting requirement for cyclists who limit their bike rides to mornings. However, if you ride your bike between sunset and sunrise, it needs to be equipped with the following:
- A white front lamp that is visible from up to 500 feet away
- A red rear reflector
- A red rear lamp visible from up to 600 feet away
Aside from these lighting requirements, the law also permits and encourages the installation of additional lighting for added visibility and safety.
Bicycle Capacity Requirements
Although there are no age restrictions or necessary licenses for riding bikes, there are still some guidelines and rules regarding how many people are permitted to ride one bike at a time in Florida.
Cyclists are allowed on the roads as long as they ensure their bike has fixed, regular seating for riding. More importantly, cyclists are not permitted to carry or ride their bikes with more people than the bike was designed or equipped to carry.
This means that, unless the bike has a designated additional seat, either in the front, back, or as a side car, cyclists are legally not allowed to have anyone with them. If you get into an accident while violating this rule, it may be difficult to guarantee your claims.
Where to Ride Bikes in Florida
Bicycles are allowed to share roads and walkways with both larger vehicles and pedestrians. Cyclists are required to use the dedicated pathways for bikes or bike lanes rather than the roadway whenever it is available.
If there are no designated bike lanes on the roadway, cyclists must keep to the right-hand side or curb of the roadway. Allowed exceptions to this rule include:
- When you have to make a left turn
- When you need to pass another vehicle moving in the same direction
- When the space on the right-hand edge is too narrow to safely ride in
Moreover, take note that when riding a bike on roadways, you are required to travel at the same speed as the other vehicles around you.
Aside from designated bike lanes, it is legal for cyclists to ride their bikes on streets, sidewalks, and crosswalks. When riding a bike on sidewalks or crosswalks, you carry the same rights and duties as any other pedestrian. However, you are also required to yield the right of way to the pedestrians around you.
How to Properly Signal While Riding Bikes
Since bicycles are considered as vehicles on the road, the law requires cyclists to observe proper road etiquette. This includes properly signaling turns. Although some bicycles may be installed with turn signal lights, it is better to learn how to use hand signals while riding a bike:
- Left turn signal: Hold your left arm and hand out horizontally to your left side.
- Right turn signal. Hold your right arm and hand out horizontally to your right side. Alternatively, you can extend your left arm out and make a right angle at the elbow so your forearm and hand are pointing up.
- Stop hand signal. Hold out your left arm and bend your elbow at a right angle with the forearm going down and the palm open, facing your back. Alternatively, some cyclists extend their left or right arm down and out, with the palm facing towards behind them to signal a coming stop.
Proper Representation for Florida Bicycle Accidents
Whether you’re riding a car or pedaling a bike, safety is a big issue whenever you’re traveling on the road. Bicycle crashes and their related injuries may not get as much coverage as other vehicular accidents, but they’re nothing to scoff at.
As of July of 2022, the number of total bicycle crashes in Florida has already reached 3,217, while bicycle injuries are already at 3,010. Always be careful when cycling and be mindful of traffic laws to avoid being added to these statistics.
If you ever find yourself involved in any accident while riding your bicycle, it’s best to call a trusted law firm that has experience with bicycle accident cases in Cape Coral and Fort Myers. Our lawyers have represented many cyclists and helped them with their bicycle injury claims, and we’d be happy to lend you the support that you need, as well.