Understanding Florida law as a bicyclist

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By: Shane Farnsworth Special to the Boca and Delray newspapers
One of the great advantages to living in South Florida is our weather. It is great for outdoor activities all year long. One of the most common activities is riding a bicycle. While most people learn to ride a bicycle as a youngster, few people are aware of the legal requirements a bicyclist has in Florida.
One of the great dangers to bicycle riders is sharing the road with vehicles in areas with heavy traffic. When bicycles and vehicles fail to pay attention and follow the law the results can be deadly. For that reason, it is important to understand your legal responsibilities while riding a bicycle.
First and foremost, a bicyclist has all the rights and duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle. However, there are special regulations that apply specifically to bicycles. These are contained in the Section 316.2065 of the Florida Statutes.
A bicycle may not be used to carry more persons than it is designed for. An exception is an adult rider may carry a child securely attached to them in a backpack or sling. Any child under 4 years old or weighing less than 40 pounds, not being carried in a backpack or sling attached to an adult, must be in a seat or carrier designed to carry a child that age or size. The seat or carrier must secure and protect the child from the moving parts of the bicycle. The child must be removed from the seat or carrier any time the rider is not in immediate control of the bicycle.
Wearing a bicycle helmet can help reduce the chance of serious injury if you are involved in a bicycle crash. Florida law requires any bicycle rider or passenger under the age of 16 years of age to wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet. The helmet must be fastened securely on the passenger’s head by a strap and meet the federal safety standards for bicycle helmets.
Riding a bicycle at night can be even more dangerous. At night issues of visibility come into play. Every bicycle being used between sunrise and sunset must be equipped with lights. The front of the bicycle must have a front lamp exhibiting a white light visible up to 500 feet. The rear of the bicycle must have a lamp and reflector each exhibiting a red light visible from a distance of 600 feet to the rear.
Despite taking necessary safety measures bicycle accidents can still happen. If you are injured in a bicycle crash it is imperative that keep your bicycle, helmet and any other safety gear. This could be important evidence that is crucial to your case. You should also consult an attorney familiar with bicycle accidents as soon as possible to protect your rights. Be aware, be safe and enjoy the many wonderful places to bicycle here in South Florida.
Shane Farnsworth is an attorney at Shane M. Farnsworth, P.A., in Delray Beach. He represents clients in the areas of personal injury, insurance disputes and civil litigation. His office can be reached at 561-272-8337 or visit them online at shanemfarnsworth.com.