Bicycles have increasingly become a primary mode of transportation. And with that an increase in the number of people injured in bicycle accidents has increased.
In Florida a bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle, and the rider considered a driver. While a bicyclist has the same rights as a driver, they are also expected to obey the same laws as drivers. These include stopping for red lights, at stop signs, using lights at night, riding with the flow of traffic and yielding to pedestrians and yielding the right of way when entering roadways.
Riders should be well versed in the Florida Bicycle laws and understand the common rules they should practice. Here are a few tips for successful cycling courtesy of Cycling Savvy.
- Ride on the road. Adults who bike should not be on the sidewalk. This increases conflicts with pedestrians and motorists. You might not think so, but riding on a sidewalk actually increases your chance of an accident due to hazards, as well as crossing and turning onto other streets
- Know the Laws/Rules. Know not only the law but the basic rules of the road. The law requires a bicyclist to have lights for example, while the rules of the road include:
- First come, first served.
- Always ride the same direction as traffic.
- Yield to traffic before entering a road.
- Yield to overtaking traffic when changing lanes.
- Obey all traffic control devices.
- Integrate the intersections:
- Always use the lane that serves your destination.
- Turn left from left turn lanes.
- Never ride straight in a right-turn-only lane.
- When approaching an intersection in a wide lane or a bike lane, merge left into the main traffic flow or lane.
- The crosswalk is the WORST place to cross a busy intersection.
- Ride big. Most roads do not include a bike lane. And most lanes do not have enough width to share is with a car. Make sure that cars are aware of this by riding as far to the left as is safely possible. This gives the rider more visibility and encourages cars to give you room.
- Use hand signals when changing lanes and making turns. Let cars know of your intentions so they don’t have to guess.
- Be situationally aware. Never rely on the traffic markings. They don’t move, cars do. Understand what is going on around you and ride defensively. When approaching an intersection, it might be wise to move out of the bike lane to make yourself more visible. Always leave a 5-foot gap between you and a parked car to avoid running into a suddenly opening door. Never pass a truck on the right.
- Know the flow. Understand how traffic flows. Anticipate your moves and be ready to react.
- Show respect. Just as you should in a car, respect others on the road. Give them room, help them pass, acknowledge kind gestures and give them back when appropriate.
So, you do everything right, yet still end up in an accident. How do you know whether you need the services of a bicycle accident lawyer? Just as the same rules of the road apply to motorists and bicyclists, so to do the same sorts of negligence factors apply in bicycle accidents. If the other driver was careless, if a city or county government failed to properly maintain a road or bike lane, and it resulted in an accident that caused injury of damage, an experienced bicycle accident lawyer needs to be consulted.