Considering the lack of protection offered by a bikes and size differential compared to other vehicles, it should come as no surprise to learn that bicycle accidents are among the most catastrophic of all traffic-related collisions. Statistics compiled by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) are proof of the dangers in South Florida. Every year, there are approximately 1,300 collisions involving bikes, leading to almost 300 fatalities and injuries to 1,400 riders. Many of these bicycle accidents are preventable and only occur through motorist negligence.
However, some of these incidents are the direct result of misunderstandings about the traffic laws that bicycle riders are required to follow. Motorists and bicyclists alike must know these rules when sharing the road, both for safety reasons and to support your legal rights. Violations may trigger Florida’s comparative fault statute, significantly reducing your compensation in a crash claim. A Miami bicycle accidents lawyer can explain how noncompliance with these traffic regulations can impact your claim:
Traffic Lights, Signage, and Controls
Many bicycle riders do not realize that they are required to adhere to the same traffic controls as motorized vehicles, including stop signs, red lights, and turn arrows. Bicyclists often attempt to evade these factors by weaving around vehicles at intersections, riding in a crosswalk, and other illegal maneuvers.
Bicycle Laws on Roadway Position
Riders should always travel in a designated bike lane and stay as close as possible to the right side of the road when one is not present. Additional rules of roadway position include:
- A rider can leave the right side of the road when passing, to avoid a dangerous condition, or to make a left turn as described below.
- On a one-way street with two or more lanes, a bicyclist may ride on the left side.
- Riders can only ride abreast in a designated bicycle lane and cannot impede traffic when doing so.
Use of Hand Signals for Turns
When intended to make a turn, a rider must use a hand signal during the last 100 feet before engaging the maneuver. Extending the left arm up or the right arm to the side indicates a right turn.
Making Left Turns
Florida traffic laws outline proper steps for using a left turn lane in traffic, and a bicycle rider is allowed to use the full lane in doing so. He or she must review surroundings, offer a hand signal, and move to the center of the turn lane. When the arrow light turns green, proceed through the turn and then reposition in the right lane of the road.
In addition, a bike rider can opt to stay right and proceed to the far side of the intersection. After coming to a stop, he or she can then turn to the other direction to complete a left turn.
Set Up a Consultation With Our Miami Bicycle Accidents Attorneys
At Gerson & Schwartz, PA, our lawyers are prepared to address the comparative fault issues that come up when a bicycle rider violates traffic laws. To learn how we can assist with your case, please contact us to schedule a free consultation at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL.