Florida’s New Bicycle Laws

Jeffrey R. Davis

At the end of the 2021 legislative session, Governor DeSantis signed into law an act relating to bicycle and pedestrian safety.  The general terms of the new bicycle laws are important for motor-vehicle drivers and bicyclists to understand.

While the actual bill is over 12-pages long, the highlights are as follows:

  1. Bicycle Lane. Any portion of a roadway or highway which is designated by pavement markings and signs for preferential or exclusive use by bicyclists.
  2. Separated Bicycle Lane. A bicycle lane that is separated from motor-vehicle traffic by physical barrier.
  3. Overtaking and Passing. The driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle, non-motorized vehicle or electric bicycle occupying the same travel lane must pass the bicycle, non-motorized vehicle or electric bicycle at a safe distance of not less than 3-feet, or if such movement cannot be safely accomplished, must remain at a safe distance behind the bicycle, non-motorized vehicle or electric bicycle until the driver can safely pass at a distance not less than 3-feet and must safely clear the overtaking bicycle, non-motorized vehicle or electric bicycle. (This does not apply to a separated bicycle lane)
  4. The Department of Highway Safety & Motor-Vehicles must provide an annual awareness safety campaign informing the public about the safety precautions to be taken when overtaking a bicycle, non-motorized vehicle or electric bicycle.
  5. No-Passing Zones. Now, a driver who safely and briefly drives to the left of center of the roadway is permitted to do so to overtake and pass a bicycle or other non-motorized vehicle or electric bicycle.
  6. Right Turn. A driver, when overtaking and passing a bicycle proceeding in the same direction must give an appropriate signal and make the right turn only if the bicycle is at least 20-feet from the intersection and is of such a distance that the driver of the vehicle may safely turn.
  7. Use of Bicycle Lane. Bicyclists must use an existing designated bicycle lane. If there is no bicycle lane on the roadway, they must ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, except:
    1. When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction;
    2. When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway;
    3. When reasonably necessary to avoid any condition or potential conflict.
  8. Riding Two Abreast. Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway or in a bicycle lane may not ride more than two abreast except on a bicycle path. Persons riding two abreast may not impede traffic when traveling at less than normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing and must ride within a single-lane. Where a bicycle lane exists, persons riding bicycles may ride two abreast if both are able to remain within the bicycle lane. If the bicycle lane is too narrow to allow two persons riding bicycles to ride two abreast, the persons must ride single-file and within the bicycle lane.
  9. Stop Signs. When stopping at a stop sign, persons riding bicycles in groups, after coming to a full stop and obeying all traffic laws, may proceed through a stop sign in a group of ten of fewer at a time. Motor-vehicle operators must allow one such group to travel through the intersection before moving forward.
  10. License Test. At least 25-questions within the bank of test questions must address bicycle and pedestrian safety.

These new bicycle laws are designed to make Florida’s roads safer for bicyclists and motor-vehicle interaction. Each year, the number of bicycle fatalities and injuries increases due to the surge in popularity of bicycle riding. The recent pandemic has created even more of an emphasis on bicycle riding for exercise and health. Unfortunately, unlike other places throughout the world, bicycle riding in Florida has never been a planned-for mode of transportation. Retro fitting roads and highways to accommodate bicycle riders is an expensive and disruptive proposition. These new laws are an attempt to address the dangerous interaction between motor-vehicles and bicyclists on Florida’s streets and roadways. Bicycle safety and awareness is a shared responsibility between the operator of a motor-vehicle and the bicycle rider. These new Florida laws are an effort to give bicyclists more importance in the rules of the road and prevent needless injuries and deaths.

At Davis Law, we specialize in motor-vehicle accidentsinvolving bicycles, non-motorized vehicle and electric bicycles. If you or a family member have been involved in a crash on a bicycle involving a motor-vehicle, roadway hazard, construction debris or other danger, please call our office for a free consultation. We are available on a 24/7 basis and are bilingual. Our office telephone number is (305) 577-3777.

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