I am writing again today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
With the economy going south and gas prices going up, more and more people are turning to their bicycles as a legitimate mode of transportation. This is a “win win” situation as bicyclists save gas and maintenance money on their cars, as well as getting much needed exercise. Many motorists respect the rights of bicyclists on the road and treat them as regular vehicles who they share the road with. However there are a few motorists who like to make life difficult for bicyclists. With more and more bicycles on the road I believe it is important for both motorists and bicyclists to be aware of the law regarding bicycles and sharing the road. While a bicycle does belong on the road I do highly recommend riding on the sidewalk when you can (watch for pedestrians!) or side streets to avoid busy roads and busy traffic. Below I have pasted a page from the website http://floridadrivers.com/traffic_court/bicycle_regulations.php/ to help familiarize everyone with bicycle laws and safety. I might also add if you are on your bicycle wear your helmet and don’t forget your sunscreen! Also you can click here for more safety tips on your bike or if you are walking.
This section provides a summary of Florida’s bicycle regulations. Click here for the exact wording of the State Uniform Traffic Control Law.
Regulations for Bicyclists and
Motorists to Share the RoadWith few exceptions, there is only one road and it is up to bicyclists and motorists to treat each other with care and respect. Strict adherence to the law is the foundation for this respect.
Legal Status of Bicycles
In Florida the bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle. Bicyclists have the same rights to the roadway, and must obey the same traffic laws as the operators of other vehicles. These laws include stopping for stop signs and red lights, riding with the flow of traffic, using lights at night and yielding the right-of-way when entering a roadway.
Traffic Regulations Highlights – BicyclistsBicycle Regulations
(Section 316.2065, F.S.)
Bicyclists must obey all traffic controls and signals.
Bicyclists must use a fixed, regular seat for riding.
A bicycle may not be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed or equipped.
An adult bicyclist may carry a child in a backpack or sling, child seat or trailer designed to carry children.
A bicyclist may not allow a passenger to remain in a child seat or carrier when not in immediate control of the bicycle.
Bicyclists and passengers under age 16 must wear a helmet approved by ANSI, Snell, CPSC or any other standard recognized by Florida. (Two Florida counties opted out of this law.)
At least one hand must be kept on the handlebars while riding.
Parents or guardians must not knowingly allow a child or minor ward to violate any provision 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.
(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.
(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.
(Section 316.2065, F.S.)
A bicyclist who is not traveling at the same speed of other traffic must ride as close as practicable to the right hand curb or edge of roadway. A bicyclist may leave the right-most portion of the road in one of the following situations: when passing, making a left turn, to avoid hazards, or when a lane is too narrow for a bicycle and a car to share it safely.
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.
Riding in single file is required except on bike paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles, or when two people riding side-by-side within one lane will not impede traffic flow.
(Subsections 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 obey any applicable signs or signals then proceed when it is safe to do so.
In addition to the normal vehicular 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 of travel.
Another option available to the bicyclist is to dismount and walk through the intersection in the crosswalk like a pedestrian.
(Sub-sections 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.
Freeways and Interstates
(316.091, (2) and (4), F.S.)
Bicyclists are not allowed to ride on the shoulder or roadway of limited access roadways (freeways) or interstate highways.
(Section 316.304, F.S.)
A bicyclist must not wear a headset, headphone or any listening device other than a hearing aid while riding. (Wearing a headset blocks out important audio cues needed to detect the presence of other traffic.)
(Sub-section 316.065 and 318.18, F.S.)
Civil penalties may be issued for violations of bicycle laws as well as for moving and non-moving violations if applicable.
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.
A note about bike lanes – Bicycle lanes are lanes on the roadway set aside for preferential use by bicyclists. Just as with most roadway lanes, they are almost always designed for through bicyclists. Bicyclists who are turning right must use the right turn lane if one is available, and may use available left turn lanes. At intersections with turn lanes, turning movements should not be made from the through bike lanes.
And about shared use paths – Shared use paths, sometimes called trails or bike paths, are used by pedestrians, skaters and bicyclists. Although bicyclists frequently use them as an alternative to riding on the roadway, bicyclists may still use the roadway adjacent to the path.
There are numerous reasons a cyclist may not wish to ride on the path. Roadways typically have fewer stop signs. Higher speed cyclists may wish to avoid conflicts with pedestrians, skaters, and slower cyclists. Frequently, a cyclist’s destination may be on the side of the roadway opposite the pathway and accessible only from the roadway. Most proficient cyclists prefer to ride in the same direction as traffic on the roadway; this makes them more visible to motorists, particularly at intersections.
Traffic Law Highlights - MotoristsMotorist responsibility to exercise care
(Sections 316.130 and 316.1925, F.S.)
Not withstanding other provisions of this chapter, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or any person propelling a human-powered vehicle and give warning when necessary and exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused or incapacitated person.
Any person operating a vehicle upon the streets or highways within the state shall drive the same in a careful and prudent manner, having regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic, and all other attendant circumstances, so as not to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person.
Overtaking and passing a vehicle
The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle.
When overtaking on the right is permitted
Upon a street or highway with unobstructed pavement, not occupied by parked vehicles, of sufficient width for two or more lines of moving traffic in each direction.
A note about passing on the right – This information was included in this summary as a reminder a cyclist may pass a queue of stopped motorists on the right. Many cyclists feel if one can make it through on the next green signal, passing on the right should be discouraged. However, being allowed to “queue jump” during a traffic jam is a benefit of riding a bicycle.
Following too closely
The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicles and the traffic upon, and the condition of, the highway.
(Sections 316.183 and 316.185, F.S.)
No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing. In every event, speed shall be controlled as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, or vehicle on or entering the highway in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care.
The driver of every vehicle shall drive at an appropriately reduced speed when approaching and going around a curve; approaching a hill crest; traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway; or when any special hazard exists with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or highway conditions.
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