10 Important Bicycle Laws in Florida
Bill Allen | October 6, 2023 | Bicycle Accidents
Temperate weather means that biking is a year-round pastime for many Floridians. The state’s status as a popular tourist destination also guarantees that plenty of Florida cyclists aren’t local to the area. As a result, they might be unaware of local cycling laws.
Whether you’re a longtime resident or only in town for a few days, you should take the time to review some of Florida’s most important bicycle laws. Doing so can help keep you safe while cycling around in the sun.
1. You Can’t Wear Headphones
Cyclists in Florida aren’t allowed to wear headphones, headsets, or any other listening devices. This law is designed to help ensure that cyclists are able to clearly hear any possible safety concerns — whether it’s an oncoming car, an emergency vehicle’s siren, or the sound of children playing nearby.
This law has two exceptions. Cyclists can wear hearing aids. They can also wear devices designed to connect to phone calls, as long as the device is only used in one ear.
2. You Have To Respect Traffic Stops
Florida’s laws take a split stance on bicycles. A cyclist on a sidewalk has pedestrian status, but a bike on the road has vehicle status. This means that if you’re choosing to bike in a Florida bike lane or street, you have to operate your bike just like you would a car.
Primarily, this requires you to respect all traffic signals. Cyclists must come to a full stop at stop signs, wait for traffic lights to turn green, and yield at yield signs. They also can’t bike between lanes to get ahead of slow or congested traffic.
3. You Have To Show Care on Sidewalks
On sidewalks, cyclists are regarded the same as pedestrians. However, they have to show a higher level of care than those traveling by foot. Cyclists must exercise caution when crossing openings to driveways or other places where an approaching vehicle might not notice a bike suddenly appear.
Cyclists are also required to show care around any pedestrians, children, or pets sharing the sidewalk. To reduce the risk of a pedestrian accident, Florida cyclists must give an audible warning when they approach other pedestrians on the sidewalk from behind.
4. You Can’t Carry a Passenger
Teenagers in particular might be the cyclists most likely to try doubling up on a bike. However, Florida’s biking laws prohibit this practice. Whether it’s carrying a passenger seated on handlebars, standing on wheel pegs, or simply riding two to a seat, Florida law bans cyclists from carrying passengers unless the vehicle is equipped to do so.
This means that bikes with multiple seats are fine, as are child seats and child trailers. Parents are additionally legally allowed to ride a bike while carrying a child in a child-carrier strapped to the body.
5. Your Bike Must Have Working Brakes
Florida law requires every bicycle to have a working set of brakes. Riding a bike without brakes, or a bike with broken or otherwise malfunctioning brakes, is illegal. The state also sets a standard for determining when brakes are in safe, working order. Bicycle brakes must have a stopping distance of no more than 25 feet when traveling at 10 mph on a clear, dry surface.
6. Your Bike Must Have a Working Seat
Florida law specifies that a bicycle must have a working seat to be legal. The one exception is if the bike was designed by the manufacturer to be ridden without a seat; in that case, it’s okay to ride.
Thus, if you’ve purchased a seatless bike, you’re in the clear. However, if you’ve removed the seat from a bike that came with one attached, you can’t ride it without risking a ticket.
7. You Have To Keep One Hand on the Handlebars
Many cyclists might shudder at the thought of biking with no hands on the handlebars, but plenty of bikers have developed the skill and coordination to successfully stay astride with no hands. However, Florida law views this skill as a safety hazard, and cyclists are required to keep at least one hand on the handlebars at all times.
8. You Can Get a DUI While Biking
Cycling when inebriated might seem like a safer alternative to driving drunk, but the law views it in the same light. Since Florida law regards bikes as vehicles and cyclists can ride in the street, it’s also illegal to ride a bike while under the influence.
Florida cyclists who get on a bike while drunk or otherwise under the influence risk a DUI and all the penalties that come along with one. They are also liable for any resulting DUI accident injuries.
9. You Need a Bike Lamp When Riding After Dark
Florida law requires that any cyclist operating a bicycle after dusk or before dawn have a working bike lamp. The law also specifies that reflectors don’t count in this context.
An approved bike lamp should cast a white light at least 500 feet ahead and a red light at least 600 feet behind the bike. Bikes should also have a red reflector at the rear, and additional lighting is encouraged.
10. Cyclists Under 16 Must Wear a Helmet
Florida cyclists under the age of 16 are required to wear a properly fitting helmet that meets a national safety standard at all times. Parents are also legally responsible for ensuring that their children are following this law.
Adult cyclists don’t have to wear a helmet in Florida. That said, not wearing a helmet can potentially be used against you to reduce compensation if you’re ever involved in a bike crash.
Hurt in a Florida Bike Accident? Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer for Assistance
Florida’s bicycle laws help keep cyclists safe, but they can do much more than that. If you were injured in a bicycle accident in Florida, you might be able to recover personal injury compensation with the help of a Florida bike accident lawyer.
However, bicycle injury compensation often depends on proving that the cyclist was obeying the law. As long as you know and follow the Sunshine State’s bicycle laws, the law will likely be on your side if you ever end up needing compensation.
Contact Our Bicycle Accident Lawyers at Allen Law Firm in North Central Florida
We have three convenient locations in North Central Florida: