Bicycles are Vehicles

Question

Jack asked:  Are bicyclists that ride on the street considered to be pedestrians or are they supposed to follow the rules of the road as if operating a motor vehicle?

Answer

Whether on the street, a sidewalk, bike path or elsewhere, bicycles are vehicles, but not motor vehicles.  There are some laws that apply to motor vehicle operators that do not apply to bicyclists.

s. 316.003 – Definitions

(2) Bicycle – Every vehicle propelled solely by human power ….

When operating on a sidewalk, bicyclists have the rights and duties of pedestrians but they are still operating a vehicle and some vehicle laws still apply, such as those related to lights, helmets or open containers.

Some penalties related to bicyclists’ infractions are treated as pedestrian violations.

s. 316.2065 – Bicycle Regulations

(20) Except as otherwise provided in this section, a violation of this section is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a pedestrian violation as provided in chapter 318.

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3 comments on “Bicycles are Vehicles
  1. Jack says:

    Thanks for the quick reply. To be more specific, must bicyclists stop at a stop sign (i.e., as motor vehicles do) or can they proceed on their way if it’s determined there are no vehicles in the vicinity (i.e., ignoring the sign, as pedestrians tend to do)?

    • Dwight says:

      A stop sign has no legal meaning for a pedestrian. If a crosswalk is present, a pedestrian may use it (unless signals are present and indicate otherwise), but “No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield” (s. 316.130(8)).

      A cyclist on the roadway would be a driver and therefore required to follow the two-step procedure for a stop-controlled intersection (i.e., stop at the indicated location; then, before proceeding or turning, yield to any vehicle already within the intersection, or approaching the intersection from another approach to whom a driver is required to yield).

  2. Geo says:

    Yes, you must stop for red lights and stop signs. Bicycles are vehicles and almost all traffic law is the same for cyclists as for motorists. There are a couple of laws that specify “motor vehicle” such as the statute about slow drivers not impeding other traffic. Also drivers’ licenses, registration, etc.

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