Bicycling has so many benefits. It’s a healthy way to exercise, and it’s a refreshing break for your mind as well. Cycling even allows you to have affordable transportation almost anywhere with minimal impact on the environment.
If you’re going to ride a bike, though, you need to know the laws first. This goes beyond staying safe and avoiding citations. If you are in an accident, you want to be certain that you don’t have any legal liability.
Protecting yourself on the road starts with learning these key Florida bicycle laws.
1. Riding As a Vehicle
This is the most important law that sets the foundation for many other bike laws: Florida law considers a bicycle to be a vehicle. That means you have all the same laws and rights as drivers in cars and trucks.
When it comes to bicycles, though, this has an interesting issue.
To drive a car, you need to attend driving classes to learn the laws of the road. You also need to take a test to make sure you know the rules of the road.
While a bicyclist has just as much obligation to know the laws, the state doesn’t test you about them before letting you get on your bike. If you break a law, it isn’t a legal defense to say that you didn’t know about the law.
That means it’s entirely your responsibility to know all the laws of the road.
2. Sharing Isn’t Caring
We’ve all seen a corny movie or two with a scene in which someone was riding their bike with their love interest on the handlebars. Like many aspects of romance stories, that isn’t realistic.
In Florida, it’s illegal to have more people on a bike than the number of people the bike was meant for. In other words, if someone isn’t on their own seat, they can’t ride.
3. Cycling on Sidewalks
This is an interesting law that many people don’t realize. When you’re riding your bike on the road, you are considered a driver in every sense of the word. You do, however, have the legal right to ride a bike on the sidewalk, unlike drivers in cars.
There are some caveats, though. While you’re on the sidewalk or in a crosswalk, you need to obey all the same laws as pedestrians. That includes laws about when you can and can’t cross the street.
You also need to yield to pedestrians when you’re riding on the sidewalk.
Keep in mind that this is the state law in Florida. There are some cities and local governments that have their own laws preventing cyclists from riding on the sidewalk. Make sure you find out the laws in your town before hitting the sidewalk.
4. Light It Up
There’s no doubt that some bikes are more high-tech than others. Don’t assume that all bikes have the equipment you need in order to legally ride them, though.
This is an especially common issue with lights. Not all bicycles have the lights you need in order to ride them, especially older bikes.
At a minimum, there are three visibility tools your bike needs to have. You need a white light on the front that is bright enough to see from 500 feet. On the back, you need a red light and a red reflector, both of which must be visible from 600 feet away.
If you’re riding after sunset, these lights need to be on. While the law used to require these lights to be solid, the law changed in 2012 to allow flashing lights too. This can help your lights’ batteries last longer.
5. Sticking to the Right
We’ve all seen some bicyclists riding in the middle of their lane while others hug one side or the other. Which one is correct? Does it matter?
In fact, yes, it does matter. According to Florida law, cyclists must stay as close to the right side of their lane as possible. This allows drivers to pass them so they don’t slow down the traffic flow.
Of course, as with many laws, there are exceptions.
When you’re going to turn left, you should make your way into the middle of the lane and then to the left side of the lane. This ensures that drivers won’t try to pass you on the left as you’re turning left.
You can also pull away from the right side of the lane when there are obstructions in the roadway you’re trying to avoid. You’re welcome to veer to the left when passing other cyclists or vehicles too.
You may also ride in the center of the lane if you’re traveling at the same speed as the other vehicles on the road. The same applies if the road is to narrow for cars to pass you while staying in the lane.
6. Sending Signals
It might be one of the most frequent laws drivers break, but all vehicles need to use turn signals. The same goes for cyclists.
If there are any drivers within 100 feet of you, you need to inform them of your intentions with biking turn signals. Be sure to learn them and understand how to use them while you ride.
7. Clear Ears
Most people know that it’s unsafe to wear headphones to listen to music while you’re cycling. It takes away your ability to hear the world around you and know when hazards are nearby. In Florida, though, it’s also illegal.
You are not permitted to use any headphones, earbuds, or other “listening devices” while cycling. The exception is hearing aids, which are legal.
There is also another exception. You may use a hands-free headset connected to your phone if it only projects sound in one ear. This lets you have one ear open to hear the road.
Keeping Up to Date with Florida Bicycle Laws
The Florida bicycle laws above are essential for any cyclist to know before hitting the road. They aren’t the only laws you need to know, though. Read up on the rules of the road and make sure you’re comfortable with them first.
If you find yourself in a bicycle accident, it’s important to take it a step further and consult with an attorney. Our bicycle accident attorney can help you understand your case and help you get any compensation you deserve.