First and most important according to Florida law bicycles are considered motor vehicles under (Sections 316.003(2), (10) and 316.2065(1), F, S)
- A bicycle is classified as a vehicle. A person in control of a vehicle on a street or highway is a driver. As a driver, a cyclist must follow the traffic rules common to all drivers. As the driver of a bicycle, he must also obey regulations adopted specially for bicycles. A person riding a bicycle has all the rights applicable to any driver, except as to special regulations for bicycles. This means obeying all traffic signals, stop signs, lights, yields, etc.
- A 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.
- Riding on sidewalks: Since a cyclist riding on a sidewalk does not have the duties (or rights) of a driver, he may ride in either direction. (However, it is safer to ride in the direction of traffic, since drivers do not expect cyclists to come from the other direction at driveways and crosswalks. Crash risk is three to four times as great for sidewalk riders who ride facing roadway traffic as for sidewalk riders who ride in the direction of traffic.) A person propelling a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk shall yield the right of way to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian.
- Driving on right side of roadway (section 316.081, F.S.). Upon all roadways of sufficient width, a vehicle (bicycle) shall be driven on the right half of the roadway. It is illegal to drive opposite of vehicular traffic.
- A bicycle operated between sunset and sunrise must be equipped with a lamp on the front exhibiting a white light visible from 500 feet to the front and both a red reflector and a lamp on the rear exhibiting a red light visible from 600 feet to the rear.
- A bicycle rider or passenger under 16 years of age must wear a bicycle helmet that is properly fitted, fastened securely, and meets a nationally recognized standard. I suggest everyone wear a helmet, nowadays they are very lightweight and have many vents for cooling. The average careful bike rider may still crash about every 4,500 miles. Head injuries cause 75% of our 700 annual bicycle deaths. Medical research shows that a bike helmet can prevent 85% of cyclists’ head injuries.
- Replace any helmet if you crash, it compromises the foam.
- Most manufacturers recommend replacement after five years.
- HEADSET NOT TO BE WORN (Section 316.304) A cyclist may not wear a headset, headphone or listening device, other than a hearing aid, while riding.
- Another law and a nice gesture for motorists and fellow bicyclists is using hand signals for making turns or stopping or even slowing down.
Mike Walthour, can be reached at Island Bike Shop, 239-394-8400, firstname.lastname@example.org
In the next edition of Coastal Breeze News Matt reviews a few bike safety checks and tips to help you have a safe and enjoyable ride.