Drivers and bicyclists have a strained relationship. Many drivers find bicyclists an annoyance or hazard, while many bicyclists reciprocate these feelings towards drivers. Often times, there is misunderstanding amongst drivers and bicyclists alike, especially pertaining to the rules of the road and proper cycling etiquette. Should cyclists be in the road or on the sidewalk? Should they adhere to all of the same laws of vehicles? Unfortunately, each year there are many accidents that occur between drivers and bicyclists, which could be prevented if the laws were more widely known. If you are a licensed driver, here is what you need to know about bicyclists:
Bikes as Vehicles
You may not know that under Florida law, bicycles are recognized as vehicles, and in turn, bicyclists are recognized as drivers. Bicyclists are to follow the same traffic laws as drivers, meaning they must follow signs, stop at lights, use lights at night and yield for pedestrians or they run the risk of a fine. This is why bicyclists are supposed to drive on the roads. They are also required to drive in the same direction as the vehicles, not facing traffic.
Driving behind a bicyclist can be frustrating for the driver, but legally you are allowed to pass them on the road whether or not they are in a bike lane. As long as you secure a minimum of three feet between the automobile and the bicycle being passed, you may pass the bicycle on a shared road. Before doing this, drivers must account for the other lanes and make sure they are not occupied.
A group of bicyclists should be treated as a one large vehicle.
In Case of an Accident
Bicycle-on-car accidents are treated as regular car accidents. If you find yourself in an accident, wait for the police to arrive and file a report. The parties involved will usually discuss the situation with their insurance company and negotiate a settlement depending on who is at fault and what damage was done. If you are driving and strike a bicyclist, chances are you are going to be found at least partially at fault for the accident – so be insured to protect yourself.
When to Hire an Attorney
If you were involved in an accident that involved a bicycle, consult with Laporte, Mulligan & Werner-Watkins. Our legal team will work with you to guide you through this trying time and will determine whether or not you have a claim. Contact LMW Attorneys today or click here to schedule a free consultation.