Whistles

Question

Michael asked: Due to a recent accident our club is reviewing safety on club rides. The club may require ride leaders and sweeps to carry and use whistles. I have doubts as to whether this is legal, having read somewhere that vehicles in the state of Florida may not use whistles.

Answer

Although a motor vehicle is required to have a horn, no vehicle may legally have a siren, bell or whistle. A horn would seem to be acceptable on a bicycle, but not required.

s. 316.271 – Horns and Warning Devices

(1) Every motor vehicle when operated upon a highway shall be equipped with a horn in good working order and capable of emitting sound audible under normal conditions from a distance of not less than 200 feet.

(4) No vehicle shall be equipped with, nor shall any person use upon a vehicle, any siren, whistle, or bell, …..

4 comments on “Whistles
  1. HarryB says:

    Because this law was adopted at least 80 years ago when devices that were moved by human power were specifically excluded from the definition of vehicle, this prohibition did not apply to bicycles at that time. Many decades later when bicycles were included in the definition of vehicle, I suspect those who pushed for this change didn’t bother to think through some of the implications of that change. In other words, I submit this is sloppy legislation.

    Consider a couple of examples: We frequently ride our tandem on a shared-use path that is located on the right-of-way of an abandoned railroad. On the approaches to many highway crossings the old train whistle posts have been preserved, so many years ago we purchased a wood whistle that sounds like an old steam locomotive’s whistle. Sometimes when we anticipate there will be an unusually high number of families on the trail, we’ll take the whistle along and my wife will blow it at opportune moments, to the amusement of the little ones, and sometimes even the adults.

    Or how about a child who, during a birthday party at grandma’s house, had received a party whistle. A literal interpretation of this statute would forbid him or her from blowing said whistle while riding home in the back seat of the family’s motor vehicle. I submit that claiming my wife and the little child would be in violation of this statute is an absurd reading of this law because I doubt the legislators felt that the traveling public would be endangered if they permitted people to ride bicycles and blow whistles at the same time.

    So, I suspect a judge would not reach the conclusion that a whistle used in the manner described by the OP is a violation of this, or any other, statute.

  2. Steven says:

    I think a bell is acceptable on a sidewalk. Aren’t you required to make a sound when passing pedestrians.

  3. Geo says:

    s. 316.2065 – Bicycle Regulations
    (10) A person propelling a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian.

  4. Dave Hunter says:

    One of my bikes has a bell but I always have a voice to say “on your right” or any other such warning. I never ride on sidewalks. Dave Hunter, Vero Cycling Vero Beach Fl.

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