Because of our fabulous climate, gorgeous scenery, and bicycle friendly (flat) terrain, flocks of people hop on their bikes and ride all over the state of Florida. Our legislators enacted laws to protect bicyclists and motor vehicle drivers. Here is a discussion of some of the most critical Florida bicycle laws.
Do You Have to Wear a Bicycle Helmet in Florida?
It depends on your age. You must wear a helmet if you are 15 years or younger. This rule applies to riders, passengers, and people riding in trailers or semitrailers attached to bicycles. The helmet must:
- Be a bicycle helmet
- Fit properly
- Have a strap that secures the helmet on the head
- Meet the federal bicycle helmet safety standards
How Many People Are Allowed to Ride a Bike?
Only the number of people for which the bicycle has equipment or design may ride it. A standard bike with one seat may only carry one person. A tandem bicycle for two may have two people riding. You cannot ride on the handlebars or any other part of the bike except the attached seat.
There are two exceptions to the rules about how many people can be on the bicycle and where they can ride. A rider may transport a child who is under four years old or weighs 40 pounds or less in a child bike seat that protects the tot from the bicycle’s moving parts and securely attaches to the bike. Also, an adult rider may carry a child in a backpack or sling as long as they are wearing it on their body.
May I Hang on to a Car or Other Moving Vehicle?
No matter what videos you may have seen online, hanging onto a moving vehicle or a rope or other device attached to one when you are riding a bike is not only dangerous; it is illegal. While can connect a commercially available bicycle trailer or semitrailer to your bike, you must not attach yourself or your bicycle to another vehicle.
Do I Have to Use Headlights, Taillights or Reflectors if I Ride at Night?
Yes. If you ride after sunset and before sunrise, Florida law mandates that your bike have a minimum of a working headlight, taillight, and rear reflector. The headlight must be visible from at least 500 feet and the taillight and reflector from at least 600 feet.
What Rules of the Road Must a Bicyclist Follow in Florida?
That depends on where you are riding. If you are riding on the street, you must obey the same traffic laws and rules of the road as the drivers of motor vehicles as well as laws about bicyclists. This requirement includes yielding to all traffic signs and signals. Despite what you may see some other bicyclists doing, you must stop for stoplights and stop signs. You cannot go through a red light even if there is no traffic coming.
If, however, you are riding your bike on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk, Florida law will treat you as a pedestrian. In that situation, you must follow all the Florida laws that apply to walkers, and you have the same rights as them, except that you must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and call out before passing them.
What Are the Florida Bike Lane Laws?
Stripes and signals set off Florida bike lanes so that drivers of motor vehicles know to look for and yield to bicyclists. The official bike lane icon in Florida is a black outline of a rider on a bike against a white background.
Only areas designated with the official striping, other lane markings, and signage are bicycle lanes. If there are double white lines painted on the roadway, but there are no pavement markings or signs, it is not a bike lane.
Also, to satisfy the width requirements, a bike lane must be wide enough that the total width of the bike lane and the adjacent lane is at least 14 feet. Motor vehicles must stay at least three feet away from bicyclists when passing. With side mirrors, some of the larger vehicles can be eight feet wide or more, which is why a bike lane plus the adjacent lane must total at least 14 feet in width.
Bikes get preferential use of bike lanes. Cars can and do enter these lanes when turning onto or off of roads or turning at intersections. In these situations, the motorist should look for bicyclists and yield to them before entering and while turning across the bike lane.
When there is a designated bike lane, bicyclists should travel in the lane. You cannot ride in the regular traffic lanes in the street just because you feel like it, but if there is an unsafe or hazardous condition, you can leave the bike lane and ride in the regular street lanes, as far to the right as is safe and practicable.
Also, bicyclists can leave the bike lane to turn right or left. For all turns, riders should use standard hand signals to notify motorists that they plan to change lanes or turn. When making a left turn, the rider should leave the bike lane far enough in advance of the intersection as not to cut off or surprise motorists.
For right-hand turns where there is a right turn lane in the street, the cyclist should leave the bike lane and get into the turn lane, so motorists do not assume the bicycle will ride through the intersection and continue going forward in the bike lane. If you are going to stay in the lane and continue straight through the intersection, you should get in the left side of the bike lane to avoid giving the impression that you are going to turn right.
(See our blogs on who is at fault if a car turning right hits a bicyclist and a car turning left hits a bicyclist)
Motorists should exercise caution when riding alongside cyclists in a bike lane. Do not turn right or enter the bike lane without first making sure that there are no bikes in your path. Always leave at least three feet between your vehicle and bicycles. Do not assume you know whether the bicyclist will be turning or going straight.
If you have suffered injuries in a bicycle accident, call the helpful Montero Law Center attorneys at 954-767-6500 to get your no-cost case evaluation.