Did you know that a bicycle is recognized as a vehicle in the state of Florida? While this doesn’t mean you can ride your bicycle down the left lane on I-95, unless you can peddle 70mph, it does mean you have to follow many of the same rules as an automobile. If you are wondering, yes this means you can get a ticket for running a stop sign on a bicycle. If you have been breezing past stop signs on your bicycle, consider yourself lucky you haven’t gotten a ticket yet. More on that part later. If you are looking at becoming a regular DeLand bicycle rider, or have been riding and wasn’t aware of the rules, keep reading to learn the laws of the road.
Learning these laws are important for two main reasons. The first is that it is the law, and you can face consequences for disobeying them, even if you didn’t know about them. The second reason is safety. Many of these laws are designed to create a safer environment for both motorist and bicyclist. Well, mostly for bicyclist really. A car might get a nasty dent, but a bicycle and its rider can go flying. So if you want to stay healthy and on the ground, remember the following notes.
Ride on the Right Side of the Road: The law of the road is that slower traffic stays to the right. Since bicycles are slower than most vehicles, this means they stay the furthest to the right. Many times, towns will have bike lanes set up on the side of the road. If there is no bike lane present, ride as close to the side as possible. The only exception to this law is when making left turns, or when the bike lane is blocked. It is also good to remember that many of the bicycle related accidents occur from people riding on the wrong side of the road.
Making Left Turns: Right turns are simple enough. You are on the right side of the road, so if the way is clear, you turn right. Left turns are a little bit trickier, however. They are handled much more like an automobile. If there is an opening, you move to the left side of the lane, into the turning area. Once there is an opening, or the signal to turn is green, you can take the turn, and return to the right side of the road as soon as possible.
Driving in the Dark: When driving between sunset and sunrise, you need to be illuminated, and visible. Driving without any form of light or reflection is not only illegal, it is downright dangerous. I can personally remember times I have almost hit a bicyclist because they came right out of the darkness. I can also remember the many times I missed a bicyclist completely because I could see the lights on their bicycle. When driving in the dark, you are required to have a white light on the front of the bike, and a red light with a red reflector on the back of the bicycle. The front light should be visible up to 500 feet, and the backlight should be visible up to 600 feet.
Signaling: When you are intending to turn, you should signal that intent. Most bicycles don’t come with turn signals, while we are sure there is a kit out there for it. Instead, you can signal using your arms and hands. When intending to turn left, hold your left hand out straight. When intending to turn right, hold your left arm in an L shape, pointed up. You can also hold your right hand straight out as well. If you are not balanced enough to continuously hold up your arm, you can signal periodically until the turn is made.
Helmet Laws: Bicycle helmets are a great safety tool in the case of an accident. Any bicycle rider beneath the age of 16 is required to wear one at all times when operating a bicycle. They are not, however, legally required for anyone over the age of 16. Even though they are not required, we would still recommend wearing one regularly. They might not be that great for our hair style, but they can still save a life.
Additional Notes: A few extra bits to remember, don’t carry more passengers than your bicycle is designed to carry. It may seem romantic, having someone sit on the handlebars, but it’s not recommended or allowed. It is also required that you have proper brakes on your bicycle. Proper brakes mean you can stop within 25 ft while going 10 mph. Also, no headsets (meaning anything that creates or eliminates noise or sound) of any kind are allowed, with the exception of hearing aids.
Following these laws will help keep you safe on the road. Sadly, there are no absolutes when it comes to avoiding accidents. All we can do is to lower the chances of accidents happening. If you or a loved one are the unfortunate victims of a bicycle related accident, you need a DeLand Bicycle Accident Attorney. Rue & Ziffra has over 40 years of experience in defending their clients and is ready to bring that experience to you.