Florida Bicycle Safety Laws You Need to Know
These are the bike safety rules all Florida drivers should know about.
Over the last year, cycling has become so popular that retailers are having trouble keeping bicycles in stock. That means there are plenty of novice riders hitting the road, and they’re not all aware of the Florida bicycle laws that will help to protect them. Even experienced cyclists can benefit from a refresher.
Sharing the Road
According to Florida law, bicycles are defined as vehicles, and their operators are drivers. This gives cyclists the right to share the roads with much larger cars, trucks, and SUVs. It also means cyclists can be fined, ticketed, and held liable for accidents if they don’t follow the rules of the road. With that said, studies show that motorists are typically at-fault in accidents involving bicycles.
Obeying Traffic Signals
Cyclists who are using the road have to adhere to the same traffic signals that drivers do. That means you must obey stop signs and red lights even when the roads are clear. If you’re riding on the sidewalk, you can follow pedestrian rules instead, such as using the crosswalk when you have the walk signal. While using the sidewalk, you do need to yield to those on foot and alert them when you’re about to pass.
Just as motorists are responsible for maintaining a road-ready vehicle, cyclists have to take similar measures with their bikes. The right brakes are incredibly important when it comes to maneuvering through traffic. A bicycle’s brake system must make a rider capable of stopping the bicycle within 25 feet at a speed of 10 miles per hour on a dry, level, clean pavement.
Florida cyclists are required to meet specific lighting standards if they’re riding between sundown and sunrise. Their bicycles must have two lamps – one on the front and one on the back of the bicycle. The front-facing lamp has to emit white light that is visible from a minimum of 500 feet away. The rear lamp needs to project red light that’s visible from a distance of at least 600 feet. In addition to a lamp, a bike’s rear must have a red reflector with a 600 foot range. The color requirements might sound arbitrary. They’re actually consistent with the colors of vehicle lights. When drivers see a red light or a red reflector, they know the bicycle is traveling in the same direction as they are. An incorrect color on the front or back of a bicycle confuses other travelers. As a result, they might not know whether to slow down, move out of the way, or keep their current pace. It’s a recipe for an accident.
Left Turn Guidelines
Cyclists have to use their left arm to signal at least 100 feet before a left turn. The signal doesn’t have to be continuous since they need both arms to stay steady. Plan to make a turn from the center of the lane. When the light is green and there is a break in traffic, you can safely make a turn.
To signal a left turn as a cyclist, extend your left arm outward. Similarly, the right hand signal is an extended right arm. It can also be signaled by extending the left arm upward into an L shape. If you need to suddenly slow down or come to a stop, warn other drivers with a downward left arm and hand.
For the most part, cyclists travel at a slower speed than motorists. To maintain the flow of traffic, they should use bicycle lanes when they’re not making a turn. If no bicycle lane is available, Florida cyclists are required to ride as far right as they can practically ride. This increases their visibility to other drivers and leaves space for vehicles to pass on roads that are wide enough. Drivers are required to keep a distance of at least three feet when overtaking a bicycle. Bicyclists are allowed to ride in pairs, but no more than two cyclists can ride side by side on a roadway shared with cars.
What to Do if You’re Injured in a Bicycle Accident
It’s crucial to call 911. A dispatcher will get a police officer to the scene as well as an ambulance if necessary. An officer will create a police report that will include any traffic laws the driver may have broken. Officers also often help each party exchange insurance and contact information.
Take photos. Visuals of your injuries, the position and condition of your bicycle, and the surrounding area will substantiate your account of the accident. Photos also demonstrate the extent of the damages you’ve suffered. That can go a long way in increasing the value of your claim.
Speak to witnesses. Their individual reports can show the driver’s negligence. Getting their contact information will make it possible to reach out with follow up questions in the following days or weeks. In some cases, bicycle accident victims are later called to testify in court.
Seek medical attention right away. It’s possible to have injuries that won’t surface immediately. A doctor or nurse might detect a serious problem like a head injury. Additionally, insurance companies question the severity of your injuries if you wait to seek treatment.
Avoid speaking to the other party’s insurance company. Any statements you give them can be misinterpreted and intentionally used against you. Instead, speak to a bicycle accident attorney who can contact them for you and advise you on the best next steps to take.
Contact a St. Petersburg Bicycle Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident due to someone else, speak to an attorney at Jones Law Group. Our attorneys have successfully recovered maximum compensation for many bicycle accident clients. We’ll evaluate your case carefully so that the driver is held accountable for all of your damages. Our initial consultations are always free. Call us at 727-571-1333 or contact us online.