Florida is a bicycle-friendly state. Bikes are a popular means of transportation due to the warm weather and scenic outdoors. To some people, the laws regarding the rights of bikers are confusing.
Cyclists using the roads and sidewalks in Florida must obey all bike laws. This includes wearing a proper helmet if you or a passenger is 16-years old or younger. This helmet must be designed to meet Federal guidelines for bike helmets. So, what are the rules regarding crosswalks?
Riding as a pedestrian
When you ride a bike on the sidewalk in Florida, you are considered a pedestrian. You have the same rights and responsibilities as any other pedestrian on foot. You can ride your bike on the sidewalk, but you must yield to other people. When you are going to stop or turn while riding on the sidewalk, you must give an audible signal or use a hand signal to warn other pedestrians.
When you come to a crosswalk, you must stop and obey any traffic devices (such as a red light or crosswalk flasher). Once you have determined it is safe to proceed, you may ride your bike across the crosswalk,but you must yield to other pedestrians. Vehicles at the crosswalk must yield to walking and bike-riding pedestrians.
Riding your bike on the road
Florida classifies a bicycle as a vehicle. It is important to use lights when traveling on the road at night. If there is a bike lane, it is safer to use it. If the lane is 14’ or less across, the biker has every right to ride in the center of the lane on the street. Automobiles passing the biker must allow 3-feet between their vehicle and the bike. It is best to stay in the right lane, as far to the right as possible, without risking falling or getting hurt.
In this situation, you are operating as a vehicle and not a pedestrian. You are to obey all the traffic laws that automobile drivers must abide by. This includes stopping at a crosswalk to let pedestrians pass. An easy way to remember this is, the pedestrian always has the right of way.
Be Smart, Be Safe
Many people obey all the rules and still end up getting injured or worse. The fact is, some people do not think your bike belongs on the sidewalk. Some drivers get frustrated when a biker is on the road, especially if it slows traffic down. Sometimes the best way to stay safe is biking defensively. Try to avoid traffic jams, construction sites, and rush hour drivers. There are free apps you can download that will give you a safer route to your destination. Try to avoid sidewalks when school buses are picking up or dropping off children,or when there are more pedestrians.
You have every right to be on the sidewalk. You also have the right to use your bicycle on the roads. Avoid an accident, and possible injury or death, by safely using the sidewalk or crosswalk on your bike. Be smart, be safe, and enjoy your ride.