According to research published in American Family Physician, bicycle riding, though fun, also presents the risk of severe injury through accidents. Most bicycle accidents occur on roadways, and some people are still not familiar with bicycle safety laws and regulations. Ultimately, drivers are held accountable for not following bicycle safety laws, even if they are not aware of them.
Public Roadways Threaten Cyclist Safety
Public roadways are dangerous for cyclists. In most states including Florida, drivers and cyclists must share the roads where there are no bike lanes or shoulders. However, not all cyclists and drivers use the road responsibly.
It makes sense that cyclists are more likely to get into an accident with a car on busy city roadways, where speed and density contribute to a dangerous driving situation. Adding lightweight, malleable transportation like bicycles into the mix almost seems like a perfect recipe for disaster.
Accidents are more likely to happen when drivers and cyclists are not abiding by share-the-road laws.
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Navigating Traffic Safely With Cyclists
Section 316.2065 of the Florida Statutes covers bicycle regulations and legal rights for people operating bicycles on the road. The law is: “Every person propelling a vehicle by human power has all of the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle.” Here are some of the laws and regulations for cyclists:
- A bicycle may only carry as many passengers as it has seats.
- Riders under 16 years of age must wear a properly fitted helmet.
- Cyclists must ride in the bicycle lane when not moving at the speed of normal traffic, unless there is no bicycle lane.
- Cyclists must ride in the same direction as traffic.
- Cyclists who ride after sunset must equip bicycles with a white lamp that can be seen from at least 500 feet from the front, and a red light that can be seen from 600 feet on the back.
- At crosswalks and sidewalks, bicycles have the same rights as pedestrians.
There is an expectation for both cyclists and drivers to be reasonably accommodating to the safety of other cyclists and drivers alike. It is especially important, though not legally required in Florida, for cyclists to take additional safety precautions when using a bike for transportation:
- Helmets: Florida law requires helmets for riders 16 and younger, and a lack of a helmet could be an act of negligence on a parent’s behalf. Head injuries are extremely common in bicycle accidents, no matter where they happen.
- Gloves: Protecting hands is one way to avoid road rash in the event of an accident, and will help riders navigate on bumpy roads, trails that are under construction, and in cold weather.
- Eye protection: Just like when driving a car, visibility is extremely important when riding a bike. Good eye protection is like a personal windshield for cyclists. Eyes should be protected from harsh sunlight, flying debris on roadways, and insects.
- Shoes: Wearing bicycle-safe shoes may protect a rider from slipping, or getting laces tangled while riding a bike.
- Reflective and bright clothing: Florida law states that cyclists must use specific lighting while riding a bicycle after sunset, but does not require light-reflective clothing. However, any increased visibility can reduce the chances of an accident happening.
If you are in an accident with a bicycle, it is important to build a case against the at-fault party in order to get a settlement that covers all your medical and life expenses. Consider that the burden of safety is on both parties, but the natural risks are much higher for cyclists. Consulting a legal expert about bike safety and accidents is a smart step for anyone looking to hit the road on a bicycle.
Speak to a Lawyer About Bicycle Accidents
You may be hesitant to talk to a lawyer about bicycle accidents, but you will not regret it if an accident happens. Bicycle accidents can occur almost anywhere, so it is important to know what steps you should take if you are involved in one.
At Ben Crump Law, PLLC, our lawyers will explain concepts in bicycle accident law to you so you can be confident in the success of your case. We can begin working on your case when you call our offices for a free consultation: 800-761-5225.