Whether you are a driver, a pedestrian, or a bicycle rider, it can be hard to determine where bikes should legally travel when they are on or around roadways. This confusion about sharing the road is fairly widespread and can cause a serious crash, especially between cars and bikes.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), getting hit by a car makes up approximately 30% of all injuries to bicyclists. Having different types of traffic all using the road together means there are legal responsibilities. For instance, failing to properly yield could play a big part in a legal claim later if there is a resulting injury.
Is It Legal For Bikes To Ride On Sidewalks?
Under Florida law, it is legal for bikes to travel on sidewalks, and it may be a great option for bikers to use when cars are driving at a higher speed or there are many on the road. However, Section 316.2065 of the Florida Statutes has some legal guidelines for sidewalk riding.
For example, a person riding their bike on the sidewalk has all the same rights and duties of a pedestrian under the same circumstances. The bicyclist needs to travel the correct direct though. This means cars and other traffic should treat bikers traveling this way as if they are pedestrians–including when they are passing through a crosswalk between sidewalks or there is a ‘yield to pedestrians’ sign.
Do Bikes Have The Right-Of-Way On The Sidewalk?
Under Florida law, bicyclists riding on the sidewalk or in a crosswalk must be cautious about pedestrians that are nearby. Specifically, bicyclists that are riding on the sidewalk or in a crosswalk must yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and are also required to audibly, or vocally, signal to a pedestrian before overtaking and passing them.
Is Riding On The Sidewalk The Safest Option?
Although sidewalks can be a great option for bikers to prevent an accident, there are situations where riding in the roadway may be safer. This could be the case if there is a separate bike lane in the roadway or if a sidewalk is crowded with people.
Are Bikes Treated Legally As Vehicles Or Pedestrians?
In a way, the traffic laws for bikers can be more like cars or pedestrians, depending on whether they are on the road or the sidewalk. If bikes have the duties and rights of pedestrians when they are on the sidewalk, are they still considered vehicles when they are traveling on the road with cars? Yes. This makes the rules for bicyclists unique, and could also make them especially vulnerable to injuries.
To help prevent an accident, bikers should always be aware of their surroundings and understand that drivers and pedestrians may not be expecting to see them on sidewalks, crossing in crosswalks, or passing driveways. Cars and pedestrians can also keep bike riders safe by staying attentive and yielding when it is appropriate.
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