Being a biker in Florida has its perks. There are beautiful trails, well-kept roads and sidewalks to ride along, and fair weather. This is especially true on the Southeast coast, where the gorgeous neighborhoods of Westin, Pembroke Pines, Key Biscayne, Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach, and Hillsborough Beach provide ample opportunities for a nice ride.
However, being a law-abiding biker isn’t possible when you don’t know the law. Following the rules of the road can mean the difference between life and death.
Take a look at these Florida bike laws. By the end, you should have a thorough understanding of some of the most important aspects of Florida’s bike laws.
Pedestrians or Vehicles?
In Florida, bicycles are considered vehicles. Meaning they have access to roads, even when there are no bike lanes. Because of this, cyclists should always move in the direction of traffic, never against.
If there isn’t a bike lane on the street, then cyclists are expected to ride as far to the right side of the road as safely possible and allow vehicles to pass if they hold up traffic. Cars may pass bicyclists at a safe distance of at least three feet away when the road space allows.
However, while bikers are allowed on main roads, they are not usually permitted on highways and interstates unless specifically stated, which is rare.
Conversely, a bicyclist may also be considered a pedestrian when they’re riding on a sidewalk. If a sidewalk is available and the rider would rather use the sidewalk, they have complete freedom to do so.
Though, when using a sidewalk, cyclists must follow laws for pedestrians. So, a bicyclist on the road is considered a vehicle, but a bicyclist on a sidewalk is considered a pedestrian.
When using the road or bike lanes, cyclists must pay attention to road signs and signals just as any car would have to.
Even when turning left or right, bike riders are expected to alert drivers to their actions and not cut in front of vehicles during turns or merge into their lanes unexpectedly.
Traffic signals, road signs, and pavement markings are all expected to be followed by cyclists using the roadway. This also means expectations for motorists are to treat cyclists with more caution than a regular vehicle.
Bike lanes are defined by specific markings on the ground and signage determining that the path is for bike use only. In Florida, a bike lane symbol is a person with a helmet between two wheels. You’ll also often see arrows pointing in the direction of traffic.
The space allotted for the lane must be at least four feet wide to be an officially designated bike lane, meaning that unmarked shoulders less than that are not considered bike lanes. Be careful to stay far enough away from cars parked on the side of the road to avoid crashing into opened doors or veering into traffic.
Also, be cautious of the line-markings parallel to your bike in the bike lane. Dotted lines and solid green bike lanes signify that a motor vehicle may need to cross into the bike lane to turn or merge, whereas lanes with double-buffered lines and solid lines are strictly for biker use.
The Florida bike helmet law simply states that anyone 16 or over does not have to wear a bike helmet. Minors aged 15 or younger must wear a helmet at all times. However, it’s highly recommended to wear one, regardless of age, to protect you in the event of bike accidents.
Even if you aren’t wearing a helmet, though, you 100% still have the right to call bike accident lawyers to see what compensation you may be entitled to.
As for your bike itself, there are specific rules in place for that too.
The seat must be a regular seat attached directly to the bike. No wonky DIY seats are allowed.
You can also only have as many people on the bike as the bike explicitly allows, which means no extra riders on the handlebars or wheel pegs.
At night, the chances of getting hit on a bike increase, especially when you’re not following lighting laws. Florida law requires all bikers riding after sunset and before sunrise to have specialty bike lights alerting motorists to their presence.
You must have white lights mounted to the front of your bike that motorists can see from 500 feet away. These act as headlights and are important for seeing in front of you in the dark and alerting motorists that you’re headed in their direction.
You also must have a red reflector and a red light on the back of your bike visible from 600 feet away. These act as your taillights and show other vehicles where you are on the road. Double-check the lamps you purchase for your bike to make sure they follow these standards.
Stay Safe And Follow Florida’s Bike Laws
Florida’s bike laws are fair and easy to follow. Pay attention to signage and other motor vehicles while on the road, and you can help protect yourself from accidents.
Yet, more often than not, accidents are not the biker’s fault. Careless drivers may overlook or fail to yield to cyclists and cause catastrophic accidents. Knowing your rights as a bike rider is essential to your safety and can protect you from deadly bike accidents.
As an avid cyclist himself, the Law Offices of Jeffery A. Vivo understand Florida bike law and can help you maximize your claim in the event of an accident.
If you or someone you know has been involved in a bike accident in the South Florida neighborhoods of Westin, Pembroke Pines, Key Biscayne, Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach, or Hillsborough Beach, contact Vivo Law today.