It’s 2019 and with the popularity of scooters recently, you’d think no one uses a bike anymore.
But that’s not true. Cycling is hugely popular in the warm-weather state of Florida. Yet, and perhaps because of it’s popularity, Florida also has the second-highest rate of bicycling and pedestrian accidents in the country, so it’s especially important for Florida bicycle riders to stay safe on the roads.
At Baron & Herskowitz, we’re strong advocates for bicycle safety. We hope these bike safety tips help you enjoy fun and safe cycling throughout Florida this spring, summer and beyond.
Defensive driving tips for bicycles
Wearing a helmet and other safety gear can help you reduce the risk of injury if you’re involved in a bicycle accident, but the best protection is taking preventative measures that will help you avoid a crash:
- Drive, don’t ride. When you’re biking in Florida, you are actually driving. Florida cyclists must follow the same traffic laws as motor vehicles. This not only ensures that you’re following the law, but it also helps you stay in patterns that vehicle drivers can predict, which reduces your chances of an accident.
- Go with the flow. Make sure you ride with the normal flow of traffic. This includes obeying traffic signals and passing on the left. Never pass on the right, since motorists don’t watch for passing vehicles coming from that side.
- Understand common bike accident scenarios. Are you familiar with the “Pothole Plunge?” How about the “Blind Left-Cross,” or the parking lot “Door Prize?” Awareness of potential crash scenarios can help you avoid them – the Florida Bicycle Association offers a guide to potentially deadly bike accident situations.
- Stay alert. When cycling, it’s your responsibility to remain alert to traffic, potential obstacles, driveways, intersections, parked vehicles, big trucks and more. In Florida, it’s illegal to wear a headset or headphones while bicycling because they can prevent you from hearing or noticing potentially deadly surroundings.
- Dress for survival. Make sure to wear light-colored or brightly colored clothing while you ride to improve your visibility to motorists. In addition, don’t just wear any helmet – invest in a properly fitted helmet that can save your brain in the event of a collision. Even if you’re over 16 and no longer required to wear a helmet in Florida, it’s a simple investment that could save your life.
Bicycling at night in Florida
If you ride your bike at night, you’ll need to take extra precautions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that nearly 1/3 of bicycle fatalities in the United States occur while it’s dark, between the hours of 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. Considering that far fewer people ride bicycles at night, this is a staggering statistic.
Reflectors are essential for night biking, but they are not enough to prevent accidents. You also need an actual bike light. Florida law requires that the light is mounted on the bike itself, not on your clothing or helmet.
This is the Florida law concerning bicycle lights and reflectors at night:
“Every bicycle in use between sunset and sunrise shall be equipped with a lamp on the front exhibiting a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and a lamp and reflector on the rear each exhibiting a red light visible from a distance of 600 feet to the rear. A bicycle or its rider may be equipped with lights or reflectors in addition to those required by this section.”
You can have a helmet light in addition to your bike light, but the bike light must be present first.
If you’re involved in a bicycle accident
Cycling accidents can happen regardless of the precautions you take. If you or a loved one has been involved in a bicycle-related accident, the experienced Miami trial lawyers at Baron & Herskowitz can help. We’ve successfully represented many clients in bicycle accidents, ensuring that they receive the compensation they deserve. Contact our office today to discuss the details of your bicycle accident case.