The Basic Laws about Bicycling in Florida
Chris asked: I moved here from Colorado in June and within the first 60 days have already been hit by a car (still going though litigation). Although I am back on the bike and on the roads, I am finding that cars really do not care if a cyclist is on the road and will do everything they can to get as close as they can to me – like its a game or something. When I approached a few of them at the stop light (nicely of course) I’m completely amazed at how many of them don’t actually know that bicycles can ride in the road!
Which brings me to my own knowledge or lack there of. The laws here are far more complicated than those of Colorado and I have searched your site and can’t seem to locate anything “simple” that lays out at least the basics.
Do you have anything that I can read, download and/or print that covers, in layman’s terms, the basics?
Good on you for learning the laws, which as you noted, many don’t know. There are many resources available to find the laws applicable to bicycling in Florida. The basic guideline is that bicyclists have the same rights and duties as other drivers when in the roadway and the same rights and duties as pedestrians when on a sidewalk. That is stated in the Bicycle Regulations here:
Almost all traffic regulations apply to bicyclists just as they do motor vehicle operators since a bicycle is a vehicle, although not a motor vehicle. Normally, you drive a bicycle the same way you drive a motor vehicle. There are exceptions though, most of which are delineated in the Bicycle Regulations.
The Florida Bicycle Association at www.floridabicycle.org has resources concerning the laws. One of those is the Law Enforcement Guide, which explains the laws and can be downloaded free here:
If you still have questions please feel free to ask them at this site, Ask Geo.
Welcome to Florida but sorry for your accident. I don’t think that there is much that can be added to your question except to ride like you own the lane that you are in. If the lane is less than 15′ wide take the whole lane and let them go around. The Law Enforcement Guide is a good start but they have another one just a good.
Although the laws are organized a bit differently in the respective state statutes, Florida’s regulations on bicycle operation are very similar to Colorado’s. Four differences worth noting:
(1) Whereas Colorado’s definition of “roadway” (C.R.S. 42-1-102) explicitly acknowledges that a roadway shoulder might be used by cyclists, Florida’s definition (s. 316.003, F.S.) is silent about such use. No provision in Florida’s code prohibits (or requires) riding on the shoulder, however, and the practice is common.
(2) Colorado requires a cyclist riding after sunset to use (on the bicycle) a headlamp and a red rear reflector; Florida requires the same, but also requires use of a red tail lamp.
(3) Colorado’s rule on roadway positioning of a cyclist riding at “less than the normal speed of traffic” (C.R.S. 42-4-1412(5)) is arguably a little easier to parse than Florida’s (s. 316.2065(5)(a), F.S.). The wordy Florida regulation begins by requiring a cyclist riding at such speed to “ride in the lane marked for bicycle use or, if no lane is marked for bicycle use, as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway”, but goes on to mention so many exceptions that, for practical purposes, the rule has about the same effect as Colorado’s.
(4) Colorado allows a cyclist to “ride on the left-hand portion of [a] dedicated right-turn lane even if the bicyclist does not intend to turn right” (C.R.S. 42-4-1412(5)(a)(III)); Florida has no such rule.
All the laws in the world are of no value if they are not enforced. I’ve been riding my bike to work (5 miles each way) for 10 years and the same problems have existed that entire time. Cars are always blocking the crosswalks in the same intersections every day. Sometimes I must get off my bike a lift it over curbs because the ramps are blocked. When I talk to driver about this I have get rudeness, even death threats. The Pinellas County Sheriffs office says they are not sure death threats are illegal. How can people be in law enforcement when they don’t know the law? The typical car turning right on red here slows down to maybe 15 MPH, never mind the effect on the cross walk. I’ve been complaining these things for 10 years and have never seen one ticket written. THERE IS NO LAW ENFORCEMENT In PINELLAS COUNTY FLORIDA!! I guess I need to hire a lawyer and file a law suite to find out why.
I am an electric bike user and ride in the bike lane both to and from work and have been hit by a car and claimed from the insurance and got what I wanted. my issue now is that people are standing in the bike lanes whilst their passengers are busy inside a shop and I have to go into the car lane to get around them. I have not checked the law in Florida regarding this but did read somewhere that in a another state they set a $50 fine for breaking the rules.
Just go around, make life enjoyable for yourself.
I live in Broward County. Many streets don’t have bike lanes and I don’t feel comfortable riding in the lane with cars because I hardly feel comfortable riding IN MY CAR with these cars. Drivers in Florida are BY FAR the worst in the nation. I ride carefully on the sidewalks and will continue to do so up to and even after getting a ticket. As long as I’m alive, I can pay a ticket. Dead or injured to the point of wanting to be dead is not an option I’ll risk.