Cyclists and pedestrians are especially vulnerable to injury during a traffic accident. While vehicle passengers have seat belts and airbags, cyclists only have helmets (if they choose to wear them) and pedestrians have no form of protection.
From 2014 to 2015, traffic accidents involving pedestrians in Florida increased by 2.79%. Pedestrian injuries from traffic accidents rose 1.72%; fatalities rose 4.29% during the same period.
Bicycle crashes during the same period rose only 0.61% with injuries rising only 0.16%. However, bicyclist fatalities rose a whopping 14.07% from 2014 to 2015.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, aware of this alarming rise in cyclist fatalities, is currently focusing on bicyclist safety (as well as motorcycle safety, as mentioned in this post) for the Share the Road Campaign.
Bicycling Rules in Florida
While this may come as a surprise, in Florida, a bicycle is considered a vehicle. That means that cyclists most obey the same traffic rules as other motorists. Red lights, stop signs, yield signs—all apply to both passenger vehicles and to bicycles.
In addition to obeying traffic signs and signals, a cyclist must:
- Use the bike lane or stay to the right of the lane unless they are making a left turn.
- Use hand signals to show when you are going to turn.
- Have a white light on the front of the bicycle and a red light and red reflector on the rear during night.
- Wear a helmet if under the age of 16. While helmets are not required for adults, helmets are known to decrease the chances of a traumatic brain injury during an accident, and it is strongly advised that all cyclists wear one.
- Not ride more than two side-by-side and must be in single file if traffic requires.
- Not ride under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
If a cyclist believes the road is too small to safely share with a passenger vehicle, they may ride in the center of the lane. If riding on a sidewalk, they must follow pedestrian traffic rules and yield to pedestrian traffic.
Sharing the Road with Cyclists
Sometimes riding by a cyclist can be a bit nerve-wracking. Ensuring you give them enough space as you safely pass them is vital, but can certainly increase your heart rate. Here are some tips to diminish some of that anxiety and to safely share the road with cyclists.
- Give cyclists at least three feet of clearance when passing. If you are not able to give them enough room, then wait until you can.
- If you are driving next to bike lane, allow any cyclists to cross or turn first before making your turn.
- When parked on the side of a road, make sure to check your side mirrors to ensure no cyclists are riding by before opening your door. The onus here is on the driver and passengers. A cyclist cannot easily determine if someone is about to get out of a car.
Consulting a Tampa Bicycle Accident Lawyer
If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, know that you have rights. Florida is notorious for its high rate of bicycle accident fatalities and injuries. As the state strives to become more bike-friendly, accidents continue.
Some injured cyclists may be able to cover the cost of their medical care with their personal injury protection (PIP) insurance or the at-fault driver’s PIP insurance. However, because those policies are often small and don’t cover lost wages or pain and suffering, injured cyclists may need to seek legal help to ensure they can pay for the care they need. The best way to determine what you may or may not be entitled to is to consult with a skilled Tampa bicycle accident lawyer. With years of experience helping cyclists and other injured parties, a Tampa bicycle accident lawyer can help you determine how best to proceed as you work on healing. To learn more about how a Tampa bicycle accident lawyer can help, visit our website.