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Cycling and Pedestrian Safety in Florida

Bike Accidents

Because of the beautiful weather, flat terrain, and tremendous resources, Florida is a great place for walking and cycling. While walking or biking may be easier or more enjoyable here than in other places, that doesn’t mean that it is necessarily safer. Pedestrians and cyclists face significant dangers whenever they are out on the roads. As experienced pedestrians and bicycle accident lawyers, we have seen many accidents that could have been avoided with careful planning. 

Pedestrians, Know the Law

Many people are unaware that pedestrians’ rights and obligations are dictated by Florida law. Florida law requires the following: 

  • Pedestrians are obligated to use sidewalks when they are available and may walk in the road only if there are no sidewalks
  • Pedestrians must use crosswalks with traffic signals when they are present
  • Pedestrians must yield to vehicular traffic already present in the crosswalks
  • Pedestrians must obey any traffic signals and signs that may be present
  • Drivers have a legal obligation to use due care and avoid accidents with pedestrians
  • Drivers must stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk

Understanding how Florida law applies to pedestrians is important, but it is more important to follow the law. These laws are intended for your safety. Using crosswalks and obeying traffic signals will greatly reduce your chances of being injured while walking. That said, it is important to emphasize that drivers are obligated to drive safely. If you have been injured in an accident, do not assume that you do not have a claim, regardless of circumstances. Instead, get in touch with an experienced pedestrian accident attorney. 

Florida Bicycle Laws

Under Florida law, bicycles are considered “vehicles” and cyclists are considered “drivers.” As a result, there are many legal requirements that cyclists should be aware of and should follow every time they go for a ride: 

  • Cyclists are expected to follow all traffic laws that pertain to cars
  • Cyclists must obey all traffic signals, controls, and signs
  • Cyclists must use the bike lane when one is provided
  • Cyclists may ride on the sidewalk, provided that they yield the right of way to pedestrians and follow all the duties and obligations of a pedestrian when using the sidewalk
  • Cyclists under the age of 16 must wear a helmet
  • When riding between sunset and sunrise, cyclists must equip their bikes with (1) a white light on the front visible up to 500 feet and (2) a red light visible up to 600 feet on the rear

While these laws may seem restrictive, they are intended to keep cyclists safe. Cyclists are at risk of suffering very serious injuries in the event of an accident, so following the law is always a good idea. Furthermore, it can help your case in the event you are injured in an accident because it can help prove that you were not at fault. 

What Pedestrians and Cyclists Can Do to Stay Safe

Despite the hazards that pedestrians and cyclists face from motor vehicle accidents, there are several simple steps that they can take to protect themselves. 

  • Always obey traffic laws, signs, and signals. Traffic laws apply to and protect all road users, including pedestrians and bicyclists. Obeying state and local traffic laws and heeding all traffic signs and signals can significantly reduce our chances of being involved in an accident with a motorist. 
  • Stay alert. An accident can happen in the blink of an eye, so bikers and walkers should remain vigilant at all times. Cyclists should keep an eye out for road hazards that can cause them to crash or force them out into traffic. Pedestrians should watch for motorists approaching from behind and look both ways before crossing the street. 
  • Make yourself visible. One of the most common things you hear from motorists following either a bicycle or pedestrian accident is “I just didn’t see them.” Wear brightly colored clothing. If you are out at night, consider wearing reflective clothing. LED lights are lightweight and affordable and come in a variety of styles, from headlamps to vests to lights that strap onto your hands. Anything you can do to make yourself visible to motorists will reduce your chances of an accident. 
  • Avoid walking and riding at night. While lighting and other ways of making yourself visible can help, the reality is that nighttime is always more dangerous for walkers and riders. If possible, avoid being out on the roads at night.   
  • Ride and walk defensively. Always remember that most drivers are not looking for bicyclists and pedestrians. Make eye contact with drivers before entering the intersection to make sure they see you. Be prepared to stop or take other measures to avoid approaching motorists who may not see you. Be aware of and avoid unsafe situations and road conditions. Alert motorists to your intentions by using hand signals. 
  • Plan your route. Both cyclists and pedestrians should plan ahead and create routes that avoid busy roadways, dangerous intersections, roads with poor visibility, or other high-traffic areas that will increase your risk of an accident. There are apps and other resources that you can use to research pedestrian or cyclist-friendly routes.  
  • Cyclists should always wear a helmet. In the event of an accident, a quality bike helmet can make the difference between a minor inconvenience and a life-changing brain injury or death. 

The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to use your common sense. Remember that drivers are not looking for you, and therefore, you need to take ownership of your own safety. If you are injured in an accident, contact an experienced pedestrian and bicycle accident attorney to understand your rights. 

Contact Searcy Denney if You Have Been Injured in a Pedestrian or Bicycle Accident

Cyclists and pedestrians often experience severe injuries when they are struck by a car including concussions, broken bones, and spinal injuries. If you have been injured in an accident, we can help you get the compensation you need to rebuild your life. Call us today at 800-780-8607 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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