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Florida, with its nearly year-long warmth and plentiful, scenic biking trails, is a fantastic state to enjoy on two wheels. Unfortunately, there are a few common misconceptions when it comes to cyclists’ responsibility while on the road, and the responsibility that drivers of motor vehicles owe to cyclists while sharing those same roads.
Whenever riding a bicycle on Florida’s roads, never forget to do so with safety and traffic laws in mind. While on a bicycle, you are just as responsible for following the rules of the road as any motorist, including making complete stops at stop signs, following the flow of traffic and obeying traffic signals. Many cyclists assume that they are owed an automatic right of way–an assumption that can be quite costly.
According to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (via the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), 726 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles and 50,000 were injured in 2014. Based on a survey conducted in 2012, car accidents were easily the most frequent source of bicyclist injury. This data all points to the fact that roadways can be extremely dangerous places for bicyclists.
Even when riding with safety in mind, accidents may very well still happen. Always remain aware of motorists, bike defensively, wear bright colors and reflective materials, avoid riding after dark and wear a helmet. In Florida, a bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle and the bicyclist as a driver. The attorneys at Wieland, Hilado & DeLattre have handled and continue to represent persons injured while operating a bicycle. Our firm has handled bicycle cases against at-fault drivers operating vehicles from 18-wheelers to police officers.
Florida statute 316.2065 outlines many of the bicycle laws/regulations. Helmets should be worn at all times. In fact, Florida Statute 316.2065(1)(d) requires a bicycle rider or passenger under 16 years of age to wear a helmet that meets the federal safety standards and that is properly fitted and is fastened securely upon the passenger’s head by a strap. The term, “passenger,” includes a child who is riding in a trailer or semitrailer attached to a bicycle.
Florida Statute 316.265(6) requires that bicycle rider do NOT ride more than two abreast (meaning next to each other) except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Persons riding two abreast may not impede traffic when traveling at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing.
What this really means is that two or more bicycles can legally ride abreast in a bike lane or bike path and even more can ride abreast if they are within the designated path. Riding two abreast on a shared road is legal depending on the width of the road. The motorist must give you three (3) feet when passing you. If the road is not wide enough for the motorist to do this, this means you are impeding traffic. This would not give the motorist enough room to pass you without going into the opposing lane.
Florida Statute 316.2065(9) states that any person propelling a vehicle by human power upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, has all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.
These are some of the rules and regulations for bicycle riders in the State of Florida. There are many others and your attorney should be familiar with all of them.
In the unfortunate case that you are injured in a bicycle accident, call an experienced bicycle accident attorney at Wieland Hilado & DeLattre. Remember that serious injuries may not necessarily manifest until hours or even days after the initial accident. Always seek medical attention and report your accident to authorities in order to ensure that you have the evidence necessary to make your claim in court. You have just as much of a right to be on the road as any truck or car and should be guaranteed the same level of safety that motorists are afforded.
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