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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A week of rants, part IV: The ignorance of Florida drivers.

For those who don't know me personally, I don't own a car for financial reasons. I bike everywhere. I've been hit by cars numerous times, with injuries ranging from scraped hands and twisted ankles to being bed-ridden for a week with a severity bruised ACL. None of those were my fault. So, as a PSA, I'm going to teach everyone some lesser-knows driving laws and general safety tips. And don't knock it just 'cuz I don't drive regularly- I got a perfect score on my driving test, perfect score on my driving law knowledge test, and everyone I've ever driven with think I'm a great driver.
 Please note these are the laws here in Florida. Other states may be different, but they're all pretty close.

1) When making a right-hand turn, ALWAYS check down BOTH directions of the sidewalk and bike path. If there is a tie at the crosswalk, bikes/pedestrians lose, but YOU pay. (Just ask the guy who drove his car into my knee.)

2) Bikes have the same right-of-way privileges as cars. If a bike is going strait, and you're making a turn, the bike has right-of-way. (As a general rule, unless you have a green TURN ARROW, you do not have the right-of-way when turning, left or right.)

3) Bikes have full legal right to the left-hand turning lane. Do NOT drive around them in the lane.

4) When passing a bike in the roadway, the minimum distance in 3 feet, but you must leave him enough room to lay down his bike/ swerve to avoid obstacles, whichever is the greater distance. Also, in the state of Florida, if the lane of traffic (space between lane markers, NOT just the pavement) is less than 12ft wide, a bike may ride as far to the left as the middle of the lane.

5) Bikes are not required to ride on the shoulder of the road. Also, bikes are to ride as far to the right as PRACTICAL, not possible.

6) As a general safety tip, before entering an intersection, follow the pavement from the front of your car down the road in BOTH directions. This is the only way to ensure you don't miss anything.

7) Bikes, (and pedestrians, too) are NOT required to follow cross-walk signals. They follow the traffic signal on the same side of the roadway they are on. (closest lane of traffic)

8) When stopping at an intersection, your ENTIRE car must come to a stop BEHIND the white line on the pavement. That white line is the edge of the intersection.

9) ALWAYS look BOTH ways before turning onto a road. Sidewalk traffic is uni-directional. If you hit any cross traffic in the crosswalk, you are at fault.

10) In Florida, Bikes may use either the sidewalk OR the bike path/roadway, whichever is deemed safer. In other words, a bike is NEVER required to stay off the sidewalk.

The next person who hits me is getting sued.


  1. I was "valedictorian" of Driver's Ed, but I can't remember any of the cyclist laws. And I can't parallel park to save my life. Oh well. I have yet to be in an accident or get pulled over. Knock on wood.

  2. Well cyclist laws are pretty unknown, rarely discussed, and full of misconceptions.

  3. Apparently. We have dirtbike laws though lol.