A Florida Bicycle Accident Lawyer from Searcy Denney Discusses the Rights of Bicyclists and Drivers Who Share the Road
Woman: It’s time to Take 5. Now You Know.
Candi: The Florida climate makes biking a popular activity all year long, but do you know the rules of the road when biking? Joining us today is Greg Barnhart [personal injury] of the law firm of Searcy Denney, who’s going to tell us what we need to know to help us stay safe when riding our bikes. Welcome, Greg.
Greg: Thank you. Thank you, Candi.
Candi: I understand that you’re a bicyclist yourself.
Greg: I am. And I’m as a consequence aware of some of the carnage that goes on on our highways and our roads. Florida, unfortunately, ranks number one, but it ranks number one in bicyclists deaths and bicyclists injury. So, it’s a serious problem.
Candi: Do traffic laws apply to bicyclists?
Greg: They do in a different way. So, look, can a bicyclist, for example, go on the sidewalk? They can. You can ride a bicycle on the sidewalk, you can’t drive a car on the sidewalk. But on the other hand, if you’re going to ride in the road, you do need to be on the right-hand side unless there’s a bike lane or unless you’re turning left. And if there’s a bike lane, it’s almost always on the right side of the road. It’s usually not those problems that lead to bicyclists being hit. It’s usually a problem with either a distracted driver, a drunk driver, or a driver who’s mad or a driver who’s texting. So, how do I know that? Well, we’ve had a number of cases like that. And oftentimes if the person, if the driver is not mad at the bicyclist, which does happen, the answer is I didn’t see him, or I didn’t see her, or they pulled out in front of me, which is almost never true. But bicycle laws do apply. And traffic laws do apply. So, if you’re a bicyclist, for example, if there’s a stoplight, you need to stop at the stop sign or stoplight. If there’s a yield sign you need to yield. You can’t just roll through like some bicyclists do. If you do, you do it at your peril. But on the other hand, there are… You have the right as a bicyclist to be on the road. And the motorists have the obligation to see you and to yield to you, they have to give you at least 3-feet of the passageway on the right side.
Candi: Do you have to wear a helmet?
Greg: The law is that if you’re under 16, you need to wear a bicycle helmet. And if you hit your head, oftentimes you either break or crush your skull. Or you start to bleed internally, meaning inside of your head, which is just like a stroke and it can cause brain damage. We’ve had a number of those cases, and they’re so tragic.
Candi: Now, who has the right of way? A car versus the bike, the bike versus the pedestrian?
Greg: Bicyclists, as I said have the obligation to follow the rules of the road that apply to them, stopping when they’re supposed to stop. Bicyclists have an obligation but it’s also a smart thing to do to use a hand signal, to give motorists an extra opportunity to see where you’re going. On the other hand, if it’s a pedestrian who’s walking in a crosswalk, the bicyclist has an obligation to stop.
Candi: Are bicyclists allowed to ride two or more abreast on the road?
Greg: They are. I know that that sometimes infuriates drivers, but bicyclists can ride two abreast on the right side of the road. They can’t ride three.
You can also pass a slower bicyclist if you’re behind them. And cars, drivers, truck drivers, car drivers have an obligation to realize that, and they have an obligation to give the bicyclists space. On the other hand, bicyclists don’t have the right to ride three or four abreast, and they don’t have the right to clog up the road. And what that does is, you know, that cuts down the wind resistance for bicyclists who are riding together. But it also angers drivers and an angry driver in a car or truck is usually not a good thing for a bicyclist or a group of bicycles.
Candi: So, why are so many cyclists hit by cars and trucks?
Greg: Is because we have such distracted drivers here, and we have a lot of them. So, riding a bike is a good, wonderful pastime. It’s a sport, it’s a way for people to get to work, it’s a very nice thing to do. But if you’re not careful, if you don’t protect yourself as much as you can, you’re more likely than not to have at least a scare from a motorist. If not, and hopefully never, a crash.
Candi: Thank you, Greg.
Greg: You’re welcome.
Candi: If you have any questions about your rights and the rules of the road when biking just visit searcylaw.com.