We know when we are operating an automobile, we are a motorist. We know if we are walking, we are considered a pedestrian. But, if we are operating a bike, where do we fit as far as the law is concerned?
Your Rights as a Cyclist
When it comes to riding your bike in Florida, there are specific laws you need to know. A cyclist has more rights to protect and serve them than any other vehicle in the city.
- When a cyclist is riding on the sidewalk, they are considered a pedestrian. They must yield to other pedestrians, and signal when they are planning to turn or stop. Since they are considered a pedestrian, they can use the sidewalk.
- When they come to a crosswalk, the cyclist should obey the same laws and rules as other pedestrians. Bikers must yield to pedestrians on foot, and all automobiles must yield to them; pedestrians have the right of way.
- Vehicle operator
- In the state of Florida, a bicycle is recognized as a man-powered vehicle. A cyclist has the same responsibility to obey the law as a motorist. The bicycle also has the same right as automobiles to use public roads.
- If there is a bike lane (on the right-hand side of the road marked with a sign), then use it. Bikers are expected to use that lane for safety reasons. But if the bike lane is not available or in poor condition, the cyclist is encouraged to share the road with other motorists.
- If the road is less than 14’ wide, the cyclist is allowed to travel on the roadway.
- They must obey all traffic laws. They should stay to the far right. They must signal (if they do not have signal lights, they must use hand signs) before they turn or if they are slowing to a stop.
- Their bike should have a front and rear light if traveling at night.
- Florida affords these privileges to bicyclists with the expectation that they will safely operate their bicycle. Some things are not required but are recommended. For example, if you are under the age of 16-years old, you must wear a bicycle helmet that meets Federal guidelines.
- If the cyclist is 16 or older, they do not have to wear a helmet, but it is a safe thing to do. There are even smart helmets available. These helmets are wireless and have LED lighting complete with turn signals and stop lights.
- If you are going to be riding at night, it is wise to wear reflective clothing or biking gear that is visible when it is dark. Also, put reflective strips on your tires or the bike itself. You can customize your bicycle in an effort to avoid accidents with automobiles and pedestrians.
Know your rights and stay safe
In the state of Florida, you are considered a pedestrian on your bicycle, unless you travel on the roadway with other motorists. If you take the roads, you must adhere to the same laws as automobile drivers because you are also considered a vehicle. Know your rights and take safety precautions to avoid possible accidents on the road or sidewalk.