Despite the fact that bike riding is such a laid-back activity, bicycle accidents are alarmingly common, especially in Florida. According to a report in the Fort Myers News-Press, 120 people died in biking accidents in 2014, meaning that Florida’s numbers are more than double the national bike fatality rate. In fact, Florida is the most dangerous state for bicycle riders, partly because there are so many bikes and so many cars vying for room on the roads.
Speaking of roads: in Florida, it’s legal for bicycles to ride directly on our streets and highways. It’s also legal to text and drive and talk on a cell phone and drive, which means that lots of distracted drivers are not paying attention to the bikes that are trying to share their space. Although you can’t totally shield yourself from a bicycle accident, you can know your rights and respect certain safety precautions that can help keep you safe.
So what are the responsibilities and rights of the cyclist on the road in Florida? Read the full statute here, or check out our key points:
- In the state of Florida, bikes are considered a vehicle and their rider is considered a driver. This means that bicyclists have a right to the road, but also must adhere to all rules that pertain to other drivers, such as stopping at red lights and stop signs and signaling to turn.
- Helmets are mandatory until the age of 16.
- Bicyclists may not ride “two abreast” (such as in a group) unless they are on a designated bike path, not on a road.
- Between sunset and sunrise, per Section 316.2065, F.S, all bikes must be equipped with a light on their front and rear.
- Bike riders must stay as far to the right as “practicable,” which according to floridabicycle.org, means that “when a lane is too narrow for a bicycle and a car to share safely, the cyclist is entitled to the use of the entire lane. Within this lane, the cyclist usually rides on the right half to facilitate visibility for overtaking motorists, but should ride far enough left to discourage motorists from trying to squeeze past within the lane.” By law, drivers in Florida are required to leave a minimum of 3 feet between themselves and another vehicle while passing.
If you have been hit by a car when riding a bike, contact bicycle accident attorney Jeff Badgley at 407.781.0420 for a free consultation. Mr. Badgley will meet with you personally in his Orlando office to address your injuries and recommend a course of action.