Bicycle & Pedestrian Safety Law Recap
Today we welcome guest blogger Jim Dodson.
For far too long Florida has led the country in the number of injuries and fatalities suffered in bicycle crashes. Fortunately an effort to mitigate that sad statistic and to increase safety for cyclists on our roads is being made. The state legislature has passed a new bicycle safety law [F.S. 316.003] effective July 1, 2021, and the following is a seven-point summary of its key features. Some of the features are new and some are tweaks to existing law.
1. Vehicle drivers overtaking a bicycle, electric bicycle, or non-motorized vehicle occupying the same travel lane or bike lane must pass the bicycle at a distance of at least 3 feet. If motorists cannot safely make such a pass, then they must remain at a safe distance behind the bicycle until they have a 3-foot buffer space and can safely clear the rider.
2. In no-passing zones, drivers may briefly drive to the left of the center of the roadway and/or a double yellow line to pass a bicycle or other non-motorized vehicle or electric bicycle.
3. At right turn intersections, when drivers are overtaking and passing a bicycle rider proceeding in the same direction, they must make the turn as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway. They must also signal and make the turn only if the cyclist is at least 20 feet from the intersection. That is what the state legislature has determined to be the distance required for a safe turn, hopefully preventing right-hand hook crashes. In my view this distance is far from adequate in the real world.
4. Cyclists intending to turn left in an intersection are entitled to the full use of the lane from which the turn may legally be made. They must, whenever possible, make the left turn in that part of the intersection to the left of the center of the intersection.
5. If a bike lane is available, cyclists must ride in it.
6. When cycling on a roadway or in a bike lane, riders may not ride more than two abreast except on a designated bicycle path. If the bicycle lane of a roadway is too narrow to allow two persons to ride abreast, they must ride single-file within the bike lane. On roads that are substandard in terms of width cyclists may temporarily ride two abreast only to avoid hazards or to overtake another cyclist.
7. When cyclists riding in a group stop at a stop sign—after coming to a full stop and obeying all traffic laws—they may proceed through the stop sign in a group of 10 or fewer at a time. Motorists are required to allow such a group to ride through an intersection before proceeding.
These changes and additions to the current laws relevant to Florida cyclists are a step in the right direction toward more safety and enjoyment while riding on the streets and roadways of our beautiful state.
Jim Dodson is an experienced bicycle accident lawyer, former FBA Board Secretary, cyclist and bicycle safety advocate who has been representing accident victims for over 25 years. Jim currently serves on the FBA Advisory Council.
Although his primary office is in Clearwater, he represents injury victims throughout Florida. He is the author of the Florida Bicycle Accident Handbook which answers the most commonly asked questions by injured cyclists. If you have questions about a Florida cycling accident this valuable resource is available to you absolutely free of charge at www.jimdodsonlaw.com.
*Legal information is not legal advice. Nothing in this article may be considered legal advice. If you have specific questions for Jim Dodson, simply call his office at 1-888-340-0840. There is never a charge to talk about your case.