Bicyclists love the feeling of the wind in their hair, the sun on their backs, and their favorite music playing in their headphones. In many places, this is perfectly okay. However, in Florida, the law says you cannot operate a vehicle while wearing headphones, a headset, ear buds, or any other device in your ear except for a hearing aid.
This has been an issue for cyclists in the state of Florida for many years. In most cases, the rules and laws regarding bikers have been in favor of the cycling community. They are encouraged to ride in the bike lane. If there is no bike lane, then they can ride in the street. If they want to, they can ride on the sidewalk. This is a courteous way to treat bikers. This is also where the issues begin.
When a biker is using the bike lane or street, their bike is classified as a vehicle. They must obey the same laws as drivers on the road. As a vehicle, headphones are illegal. The reasons behind this are reasonable. The biker may not hear horns or other noises warning them of potential danger.
Without being able to listen to a car screeching behind them or the sound of a horn, bikers put themselves at risk. The fact is, headphones are also illegal for automobile drivers, and getting caught with a headset on will get you a fine up to $150.
Some bikers tried to get around Florida laws by wearing just one earbud in their left or right ear to conceal the headphones. They might partially hear traffic, but if you turned the music all the way up, a biker could become distracted or not hear important warnings.
Other bikers tried to solve the problem by attaching a boom box to their bikes. This was a safer alternative that was legal. However, it typically does not work as well as intended, and instead slows down bikes and makes them harder to control.
Is there a loophole?
Cyclists were determined to listen to music on their bikes safely and legally. They remembered that a bike traveling on the sidewalk changed their status to a pedestrian, using that instead of the bike lane or road seemed like a simple solution. As a pedestrian, they could ride on the sidewalk and wear their headsets, headphones, and earbuds without issue.
Complaints were made against these bikers, and in response, Florida lawmakers made an exception. They agreed cyclists could wear their headsets or ear buds if they used bike paths and the path was not part of the road.
In Florida, there are more bike accidents and fatalities than in any other state. That may be because Florida has a climate that draws people outdoors. Riding a bicycle is fun, relaxing, and a great way to exercise. The laws that are in place were created to protect cyclists, pedestrians, and other vehicle drivers. This allows bikers to enjoy music without the risk of a fine or an accident.