Florida Bicycle Laws: Safety in Fort Lauderdale
A solid understanding of Florida bicycle laws is a crucial first step to understanding whether you have a viable bicycle accident claim.
The Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm are closely familiar with these statutes, as they often dictate the types of claims we can file and which defendants can be held liable for injuries resulting from these accidents.
These laws are also key to understanding driver responsibility and duty of care, which is the first element necessary to establish in any lawsuit alleging negligence.
What Rights and Responsibilities Do I Have as a Bicyclist in Florida?
F.S. 316.2065 gives bicyclists all the rights and responsibilities applicable to the driver of any other motor vehicle, except when certain provisions which by their nature can have no application. That means you have a right to ride on the road, but you must obey all traffic controls and signals.
What Does Florida Law Consider to be a Bicycle?
F.S. 316.003(3) defines a bicycle as a vehicle propelled solely by human power, and may include motorized bicycles propelled by a combination of human power and electricity so long as it cannot exceed 20 mph on level ground. Generally, bicycles only have two wheels. Scooters do not count as bicycles, and people under 16 are not allowed to operate or ride upon motorized bicycles.
Do I Have to Ride on the Right?
In general, yes. F.S. 316.081 states that whenever road width and other conditions permit, riders should ride on the right side of the road. In other words, you need to ride with traffic, not against it. If you ride against traffic, you may be doubling your risk of a bicycle accident.
Can I Ride on the Sidewalk Under Florida Bicycle Laws?
Yes. Per F.S. 316.2065(10), a cyclist on the sidewalk will have all the same rights and duties as a pedestrian. Keep in mind, however, that there may be local ordinances that prohibit sidewalk riding by bicyclists. Note also that sidewalks were not built for cyclists who are moving at a faster clip. Additionally, one study by Cornell University indicated riding on the sidewalk may in some cases increase the risk of a bicycle accident at intersections because it makes the cyclist virtually invisible to the motorist. Even if the driver does see a bicyclist on the sidewalk, they may underestimate the speed at which they are traveling, which is generally much faster than a pedestrian. Finally, the sidewalk may be fraught with certain perils (i.e., uneven sidewalks, tree roots, gravel, leaves) that can increase the chance of a rider losing control. From a liability standpoint, such cases can be tougher for our Fort Lauderdale lawyers to secure damages. Most that are successful are predicated on legal theories of premises liability (a dangerous condition at the site of the accident that property owner failed to address) or product liability (the bicycle had some defect).
Where on the Road Should I Be Riding?
Riders must stay to the road’s right-hand curb area, unless passing a vehicle, making a left turn or avoiding some hazard. That’s according to F.S. 316.2065 (5) and (6). This rule won’t apply if the road is too narrow to allow vehicle traffic to go safely by.
How Should I Make Turns at Intersections?
If you are approaching and preparing to turn right, you should do so as close as possible to the right-hand curb. That’s per F.S. 316.151 (1)(b)(c). Meanwhile, riders making a left turn are permitted full use of the left lane.
What Are My Responsibilities for Signaling?
Just like motor vehicle operators, under Florida bicycle laws, cyclists must signal their next move. Because bicycles do not generally come equipped with motorized turn signals or brake lights, we look to F.S. 316.155 (2), (3) and F.S. 316.157(1).
- Turning Left – Extend left arm horizontally.
- Turning Right – Extend right arm horizontally or the left arm upward.
- Stop/ Reduced Speed – Left arm and hand point down.
What are the Requirements for Bicycle Equipment and Passengers?
Looking to F.S. 316.2065 (2), (3), (7), (8) and (14 ), we find a number of equipment-related requirements for bicyclists, as well as rules for passengers. These include:
- Bicycles operated at night need to include a lamp on the front and both a lamp and a red reflector on the rear.
- Riders/ passengers under 16 need to wear a federally-improved helmet that meets standards outlined in 16 C.F.R. part 1203.
- Bicycles can’t be used to carry more persons at a time than the number for which it was designed or equipped. The only exception would be an adult carrying a child securely attached to his/ her person in a backpack or sling.
- Riders must keep at least one hand on the handlebars at all times.
- Bicycles must be equipped with brakes that function properly.
Can I Wear a Headset if I’m Bicycling in Florida?
No. Our bicycle accident attorneys recognize distracted biking is problematic in much the way distracted driving is. F.S. 316.304 prohibits anyone operating a vehicle from wearing a headset, headphone or other listening device, unless it’s a hearing aid.
Are Drivers Allowed to Park in Bicycle Lanes?
No. See F.S. 316.1945(1)(b)6. The only reason a car should ever be in a bicycle lane is to avoid traffic or to comply with the directions of a law enforcement officer. Stopping very briefly to pick up a passenger is also permitted.
I Was Just a Victim of “Dooring.” Who Is At-Fault?
Most likely, the fault in a dooring case is with the vehicle occupant. F.S. 316.2005 prohibits anyone from opening the door of a motor vehicle unless it’s reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with movement of other traffic. Additionally, the law prohibits leaving a door open to the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.
How Much Space Do Motor Vehicles Need to Give Cyclists When Passing?
Three feet, at least. F.S. 316.083 stipulates that when the driver of a vehicle is overtaking a bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle, it must do so maintaining a safe distance of no less than three feet.
What Should I Do If I’m in a Bicycle Accident in Fort Lauderdale?
There is no law that says you must call an injury lawyer if you have been in a bicycle accident. However, it’s an important first step to recovering compensation for damages you incurred as a result of someone else’s negligence.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Fort Lauderdale bicycle accident, contact the personal injury attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm by calling (954) 761-4011 or toll-free at (888) ANSARA-8.