Florida Cycling Dangers

A tragic accident in Venice, Florida, which left four bicyclists in critical condition, recently highlighted the perils of biking for serious cycling enthusiasts in the Sunshine State.  According to a report from the local ABC news affiliate, four cyclists were critically injured after a crash between the cyclists and a motor vehicle on a busy road in Venice on Florida’s West Coast.  A Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) spokesman involved in the accident investigation advised that it appeared that the cyclists were attempting to change lanes to either avoid an obstacle in the road or to make a turn at the time of the accident.  The FHP spokesman further advised officials were attempting to determine when and why the cyclists were making the lane change and how far away from an intersection both the cyclists and the car that hit them were when they did so.  This accident, the full circumstances of which still have not yet been determined by the FHP, is indicative of a wider problem in terms of the lack of cooperation between motorists and cyclists on the roads of the Sunshine State.  This widespread lack of cooperation, despite legal responsibilities on the part of both parties to share the road, leads to tragic accidents being all too commonplace in Florida. A recent article by The Wall Street Journal noted that Florida has by far the highest per-capita bicyclist death rate in the country.

Florida Law when Both Bicycles and Motor Vehicles Are Present on the Road

Although both motor vehicles and bicycles technically have the same rights to the road under Florida law, cyclists and drivers nonetheless do not always do so well at sharing the road in the Sunshine State.  As any Florida driver can tell you, many Florida cyclists sometimes violate Florida law by not obeying traffic signals or by riding two or even sometimes three bicyclists across when they are out on the road.  At the same time, as any Florida cyclist will tell you, many drivers are openly hostile to cyclists by either not giving them enough room when passing or refusing to move over when bikes are present on the road.

Under Florida law, when sharing the road, bicyclists must stay in their designated bike lane, if there is one, or in the lane they are traveling in on roads that lack a bike lane.  In addition, bicyclists are required to obey the same traffic laws as motorists, including stopping at red lights, signaling when they are changing lanes, and riding in the same direction as motor vehicle traffic.  Bicyclists are also not permitted to ride two or more riders across on the road in Florida unless they are doing so in a designated bike lane.

Motorists also have particular responsibilities when cyclists are present on the road in Florida.  Cyclists are not required to ride on the shoulder on the road or even in the very right-hand portion of the right lanes of a road, contrary to what many drivers in Florida may believe.  Instead, cyclists are indeed entitled to ride their bikes on the road in Florida and are entitled to the use of a full lane when doing so.  They are not required to share their lane with motor vehicles nor are they required to move all the way over if a motor vehicle attempts to pass them using the same lane in which the cyclist is traveling.  Therefore, a driver who passes (or attempts to pass) a cyclist in the same lane in which the cyclist is traveling is violating the law and could be ticketed for reckless endangerment or a similar type of charge depending on how close the motorist comes to the bicyclist and how fast the motorist is going.

Contact the Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys of Schwed, Adams & McGinley

As reflected in the horrible accident above, collisions involving motor vehicles and cyclists often can result in critical injuries or death, particularly for the cyclists.  The roads are a place where cooperation is necessary, and both drivers and cyclists alike need to do their part to ensure the safety of everyone involved when bicycles are present on the road.  Drivers need to understand that cyclists are entitled to the use of the road just as much as someone with a car is.  However, as any Florida cyclist can tell you, motorists often will attempt to pass in the same lane a bike is traveling or not even move an inch when going by a cyclist.  Therefore, If you are a cyclist and you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident in Florida, you need an experienced personal injury attorney who has represented cyclists who have been injured by inconsiderate or aggressive drivers in the past.  Contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A. today.  We have achieved great success in representing clients in collisions between bicycles and motor vehicles in our attorneys’ 150 combined years practicing law.  Contact us today at (877) 694-6079 or contact@schwedlawfirm.com for a free consultation regarding your situation.