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Florida Driver Handbook: Bicycles

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Florida Driver Handbook: Bicycles

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Table of Contents

6. Sharing the Road

In Florida, the bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle and has all of the privileges, rights and responsibilities to utilize the roadway as a motor vehicle operator does. Bicyclists on public roads (except for expressways) have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of motorized vehicles.

Respect the right-of-way of bicyclists because they are entitled to share the road with other drivers. Unlike motorists, bicyclists may also operate on sidewalks (except where prohibited by local ordinance), but must yield to pedestrians on sidewalks and in crosswalks.

Riding against the flow of traffic in the adjacent traffic lane on a sidewalk is not illegal. However, it places cyclists where motorists entering or leaving the roadway at driveways and intersections do not expect wheeled traffic. As cyclists move faster than pedestrians, conflicts between motorists and sidewalk riders at driveways and intersection crosswalks can develop rapidly.

6.2.1 - Sharing the Road with a Bicycle

Share the Road Expect to find a bicyclist on all types of roads (except interstate highways), at all intersections and roundabouts, in all types of weather, and at all times of the day and night. Bicyclists may ride out of the bike lane in the travel lane for their own safety due to narrow roads, or to avoid obstacles or pavement hazards, or to prepare for a left turn. On roads without shoulders, or with cars parked along the right side, often the safest place for a bicyclist to ride is in the center of the lane. A bicyclist may use the full lane even while traveling substantially below the speed of traffic if the lane is too narrow for a car to safely pass a bicycle within the lane. Most travel lanes in Florida range from 10' to 12' wide and guidance indicates that a 14' lane is a width that allows safe sharing with most motor vehicles.

  • Florida law requires that motorists give cyclists a minimum of three feet of clearance and reduce their speed.
  • On a two lane road, pass a bicyclist like a slow moving vehicle, and only when it is safe to do so.
  • At night, avoid using high beam headlights when you see a cyclist approaching.
  • Do not follow a cyclist closely in order to have adequat space to slow. Bicycles can maneuver quickly and may reduce speed or swerve to avoid a road hazard that a motorist cannot see.
  • Before opening a car door, check for bicyclists who may be approaching from behind.
  • Avoid honking your horn. Bicyclists can usually hear an approaching vehicle and loud noises can startle bicyclists, causing a crash.

6.2.2 - Bike Lanes Intersections and Driveways

At intersections, always assume that bicyclists are traveling straight unless they signal otherwise. Yield to bicycles just as you would to any other vehicle. Bicyclists often ride on sidewalks and trails, so look both ways before crossing a sidewalk or trail. A bicycle may come from an unexpected direction.

A large percentage of motorist bicycle crashes occur at intersections. When making a left turn, check for and yield to bicyclists coming from the opposite direction. When making a right turn, signal your turn, check for bicyclists, and do not turn directly in front of a bicyclist. They may travel faster than you think. When a bike lane is present, signal your turn and yield to any bicyclist in the bike lane, before crossing the bike lane to enter a right turn lane. If no right turn lane is present, yield to any cyclist present in the bike lane and make your turn behind the bicyclist. Otherwise merge into the bike lane before making your turn.

6.2.3 - Young Bicyclists

Children on bicycles can be unpredictable and can make sudden changes in direction. Be especially careful when children are present, and strictly obey the speed limit in school zones and residential areas.

6.2.4 - Bicyclist Sharing the Road with Vehicles

Persons riding bicycles or mopeds on a roadway have the same rights (with certain exceptions) and duties as motor vehicle drivers and may be ticketed for traffic violations. Know and obey these laws:

  • Bicyclists must obey all traffic controls and signals.
  • An adult bicyclist may carry a child in a backpack or sling, child seat or trailer designed to carry children.
  • You may not allow a passenger to remain in a child seat or carrier when you are not in immediate control of the bicycle.
  • Bicyclists and passengers under age 16 are required to wear helmets that meet federal safety standards. A helmet purchased before October 1, 2012, which meets the standards of the American National Standards Institute, the standards of Snell Memorial Foundations or any other nationally recognized standards for bicycle helmets adopted by DHSMV may continue to be worn by a bicycle rider or passenger until January 1, 2016.
  • Every bicycle must be equipped with a brake or brakes which allow the bicyclist to stop within 25 feet when traveling from a speed of 10 miles per hour on a dry, level, clean pavement.
  • A bicyclist on a sidewalk or crosswalk must yield the right-ofway to pedestrians and must give an audible signal before passing.
  • Keep both hands on the handlebars.
  • On the roadway, check behind you before changing lanes or moving notably within the lane.
  • For use between sunset and sunrise, a bicycle must be equipped with a lamp on the front exhibiting a white light visible from 500 feet to the front and both a red reflector and a lamp on the rear exhibiting a red light visible from 600 feet to the rear.
  • If you are not traveling at the speed of other traffic, stay on the right-most portion of the roadway except when passing, making a left turn, avoiding hazards or when a lane is too narrow for you and a car to share it safely.
  • When operating a bicycle on a one-way street with two or more traffic lanes, you may ride as close to the left- hand edge of the roadway as practicable.
  • If you intend to make a left turn, you are entitled to full use of the lane from which the turn is made.
  • In addition to the normal vehicular-style left turn, you may proceed through the right-most portion of the intersection and turn as close to the curb or edge as possible at the far side. After complying with any official traffic control device, you may proceed in the new direction of travel.
  • Signal your intent to turn to other vehicle operators by pointing in the direction you are going to turn.
  • Do not wear headphones or any other listening device except a hearing aid while bicycling.
  • Do not ride a bicycle when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.