Bicycle Trailer Lighting
Chas asked: Under Florida law, a bicycle is considered a vehicle and as such, must obey all traffic laws that apply to vehicles. Vehicles towing a trailer must have the trailer equipped with lights and illuminated license plate. Since a bicycle is a vehicle, how come bicycles do not have legal lighting, etc., on their small trailers?
You are correct that a bicycle is a vehicle under Florida statutes.
However, a bicycle is not a motor vehicle, and a license plate, illuminated or not, is not required by state law.
s. 316.003 – Definitions
(21) Motor Vehicle – Any self-propelled vehicle not operated upon rails or guideway, but not including any bicycle, motorized scooter, electric personal assistive mobility device, or moped.
Lighting devices for motor vehicles are strictly regulated.
s. 316.216 – Authority of Department with Reference to Lighting Devices
(1) The department is authorized to approve or disapprove lighting devices and to issue and enforce regulations establishing standards and specifications for the approval of such lighting devices, their installation, adjustment, and aiming, and adjustment when in use on motor vehicles. Such regulations shall correlate with standards and specifications of the society of automotive engineers applicable to such equipment.
One example is taillights required for motor vehicles.
s. 316.221 – Taillamps
(1) Every motor vehicle, trailer, semitrailer, and pole trailer, and any other vehicle which is being drawn at the end of a combination of vehicles, shall be equipped with at least two taillamps mounted on the rear.
According to the statutes a trailer is a device drawn by a motor vehicle.
s. 316.003 – Definitions
(58) Trailer – Any vehicle with or without motive power, other than a pole trailer, designed for carrying persons or property and for being drawn by a motor vehicle.
The lighting requirements for bicycles are described in the Bicycle Regulations, and are less stringent than those for motor vehicles.
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. A law enforcement officer may issue a bicycle safety brochure and a verbal warning to a bicycle rider who violates this subsection or may issue a citation and assess a fine for a pedestrian violation as provided in s. 318.18. The court shall dismiss the charge against a bicycle rider for a first violation of this subsection upon proof of purchase and installation of the proper lighting equipment.
s. 316.2397 – Certain Lights Prohibited; Exceptions
(7) Flashing lights are prohibited on vehicles except:
(c) For the lamps authorized under subsections …. s. 316.2065 …. which may flash.
The only reference to bicycle trailers is also in the Bicycle Regulations. No requirement of bicycle trailer lighting is imposed by this subsection.
(4) …. This subsection does not prohibit attaching a bicycle trailer or bicycle semitrailer to a bicycle if that trailer or semitrailer is commercially available and has been designed for such attachment.