Flashing Lights

Question

Michael asked: I am a disabled veteran in a wheelchair, I ride a adaptive hand cycle that is a lay back position and in total it’s only 32″ high. I use 2 5′ safety flags and I have 2 white headlights H/L/ and strobe I also use red lights set at the with of the rear of my cycle which is 28″ W I always have them on at medium brightness and slow flash, I also have a red light on one side of the axle and a white one on the other side both facing up at my flags that I put reflective tap on. Is it legal for me to have the red lights set on flash? I ride 150 to 200 miles a week so I’m on the road and bike lanes when possible a lot at night. If it is not legal to use red flashing lights is there a permit I could get? Given the fact my cycle is very unique and no taller than a wheel on a car? I live in Polk County I really need clarification, I feel that it’s more important for me to be seen as something different up ahead but I don’t want to get into it with law enforcement. I would rather apply for a permit to keep on me so I don’t become a postage stamp on the side of the road.

Answer

You are required to have certain lights if you ride at night and you may use additional lights.

s. 316.2065 – Bicycle Regulations

(7) Every bicycle in use between sunset and sunrise shall be equipped with a lamp on the front exhibiting a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and a lamp and reflector on the rear each exhibiting a red light visible from a distance of 600 feet to the rear. A bicycle or its rider may be equipped with lights or reflectors in addition to those required by this section.

Lights are also required on all vehicles in inclement weather.

s. 316.217When Lighted Lamps are Required

(1) Every vehicle operated upon a highway within this state shall display lighted lamps and illuminating devices …. under the following conditions;

(a) At any time from sunset to sunrise including the twilight hours. Twilight hours shall mean the time between sunset and full night or between full night and sunrise.

(b) During any rain, smoke, or fog.

The lights on a bicycle, including the required lights and additional lights, may flash.

s. 316.2397Certain Lights Prohibited; Exceptions

(7) Flashing lights are prohibited on vehicles except:

(c) For the lamps authorized under …. s. 316.2065 …. which may flash.

Red lights visible forward and any blue lights are not allowed.

(1) No person shall drive or move or cause to be moved any vehicle or equipment upon any highway within this state with any lamp or device thereon showing or displaying a red or blue light visible from directly in front thereof ….

(2) It is expressly prohibited for any vehicle or equipment, except police vehicles, to show or display blue lights.

Your vehicle may not meet the definition of “bicycle” because of the seat height for the purpose of Bicycle Regulations lighting requirements. The laws were written before recumbents and trikes became popular.

s. 316.003 – Definitions

(2) Bicycle – Every vehicle propelled solely by human power …. having two tandem wheels, and including any device generally recognized as a bicycle though equipped with two front or two rear wheels. The term does not include such a vehicle with a seat height of no more than 25 inches from the ground when the seat is adjusted to its highest position or a scooter or similar device.

That would in no way affect your right to use the roadway since that applies to all human powered vehicles.

s. 316.2065Bicycle Regulations

(1) Every person propelling a vehicle by human power has all of the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle ….

There may be special provisions in the ADA legislation that may help you but that is beyond the scope of this site.

There is no question about your right to use flashing lights but if you are still in doubt about the requirements, I recommend taking this information to the local law enforcement office and ask them to clarify for your vehicle.

Posted in Ask Geo, Bicycle Equipment, Definitions
One comment on “Flashing Lights
  1. sr105 says:

    Michael, you may want to have one of your forward and rear lights set to a steady mode. Flashing lights are great for grabbing attention, but steady lights help drivers estimate location, speed, and distance. A combination of steady and flashing lights is ideal.

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