Information on safe cycling in Florida

Don't ride without a helmet.
Don't ride against the traffic.
Always have a light front and rear at night
Courteousness to pedestrians on sidewalks.
Always carry your cell phone and ID with you on rides.
Ride with a buddy.
Wear cycling gloves.
Hydrate on those hot Florida days
Sunscreen on your arms and the back of your neck!!
Sunglasses to protect your sclera from nasty sun scarring.
Put air in your tires before your ride- saves your energy.
On long rides: drink before you're thirsty, snack before your hungry.
Don't trust that the driver sees you- s/he doesn't. Eye contact does not mean s/he won't run you over.
Don't ride drunk unless you are the back of tandem-You will get a ticket.
If the traffic is rush hour, stay on the sidewalk- cell phones can kill.

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

The police power and intimidation of cyclists- guide to hanlding "officer friendly"

Of recent I have been posted on with several inquiries about "the law" and the "enforcement of the law" by the local law enforcement.  Those men and women do a job that we don't want to with bad people. 

However, that line of work also attracts a few folks who have an improper perspective of their role when they come into contact with us in the cycling community.  To some of these folks, bicycles are not with cars on “roadways.”   Examples: The three wheel who is told her bicycle cannot be on the road because it is "too wide."  The cyclist who is told "get off the sidewalk" or to "get on the sidewalk" for unknown reasons. (These are real cases).  As far as rights, actually, the opposite is true: we can ride road or sidewalk. These folks can be arbitrary or wrong in the application of the statues.  So, I'd like to offer the essential list of statutes and some suggestions to help you to be informed and help Officer Friendly be reasonable.

When a situation arises and Officer Krumpke tells you to pull over, he/she may not be having a good day with good results.  That is going to change during the interaction with you.  You are going to remind him of the good he wanted to do when he started with the force and you happen to be the solution.  S/he will leave with a smile, you will make sure of that.

    First- make sure you pull waaaaay over and where the exchange won't be embarrassing for the Officer. 
    Second, forget the indignant "what's do you mean pulling me over A–hole." (Doesn’t work)  Smile and say "How can I help you officer/deputy?"
    Then third, listen completely to what she/he has to say.  Ask questions, s/he’s got a point and a job.  
    Fourth, know this: right out the box: Florida Statutes section (“F.S”) 316. 2065(1) says bicycles are cars period.  Bikes are cars. The legal significance is this: If it applies to the car, it applies to the bicycle.  Does the nice officer want you do to something with your bike you don’t have to do with your car?  You know the motor vehicle laws.  You don’t need me there, you got this: Ask Deputy Ed Rooney: Would it be required of a car to do this?   Drive on the sidewalk? Make a left turn from the right lane instead of the middle? You have to quote F.S.316. 2065(1) to him and you can solve most problems.  If the officer resists he's got a problem on his hands, but don’t argue this.  I'll discuss that below.

Since you know most car rules, his next point may be "city/county ordinance says that "bicycles must ___(whatever)____.   He may be correct.  F. S. 316.008 say cities and town can reasonably regulate bicycles.  That usually means keep them off sidewalks. Cool.  That doesn’t mean to change the traffic statutes and that is in F.S. 316.002.  If a car can or has to do it, you do too.

You will want Deputy Fife to give you the exact ordinance number and make a point of writing this down.  If' he's "shooting from the hip," this may weaken his resolve to cite you.   This is where the B.S metermay go off.  If he's really got a city/town ordinance that says bicycles must (whatever) he'd ought to know it and quote the number to you.  You can check all city and county ordinances at  Cities can and do regulate bicycles being on sidewalks but that's about all they do. 

Other points: When we are riding we have the rights of vehicles, and then some.  We can ride on sidewalks.  There we have the rights of pedestrians. F.S. 316.2065(11). Cars have to stop for us in crosswalks.  F.S. 316.130.  Moreover, we don't have to dismount and walk our bikes across.   

Just keep in mind, when interacting with Deputy Fife: you do not have a Sargent who will back you up even if you’re wrong. Never argue.  If the officer is going to ticket you, he's going to have to go to court and justify his citation.  That might be time on his day off he won’t want to give.

Print the following statutes out, put them a vinyl covering from (Fedex Kinkos/Office) and stick it in your pocket when your ride around town. 

F.S. 316.002 – Purpose (State law preempts local ordinance)
F.S. 316.003(42) (“Roadway” is for vehicle traffic not the berm or shoulder of road)
F.S. 316.003(75) – Definitions (bicycle is a vehicle)
F.S. 316.008 – Powers of Local Authorities (bicycle can reasonably regulated by cities/towns)
F.S. 316.083 - Overtaking and Passing a Vehicle (bicycles must have 3 feet when passed)
F.S. 316.130 – Pedestrians; Traffic Regulations  (cars must stop for bicyclist in their lanes at crosswalks or if so close to lane to be in danger)
F.S. 316.185 Special hazards (cars must slow down/avoid bicycles on narrow roads or at crosswalks)
F.S. 316.2065 (1)– Bicycle Regulations (bicycle has the rights of cars)
F.S. 316.2065 (10)– Bicycle Regulations (bicycle on sidewalk has the rights of pedestrians)
FS 316.183 – Unlawful Speed (can’t go slow so that impede, block normal or reasonable traffic)
Manual of Uniform Minimum Standards for Design, Construction and Maintenance for Streets and Highways -M.U.M.S.D.C.M.S.H. a/k/a “Fla. DOT Florida Greenbook” chp 9 B.3 (14 feet is the recommended lane if less it's a "non-standard" width)  

Now, the statutes with the language included: 
FS 316.002 – Purpose (State law trumps local ordinance)

It is the legislative intent in the adoption of this chapter to make uniform traffic laws to apply throughout the state and its several counties and uniform traffic ordinances to apply in all municipalities …. It is unlawful for any local authority to pass or attempt to enforce any ordinance in conflict with the provisions of this chapter.
FS 316.003 – Definitions (bicycle is a vehicle and can ride on road, sidewalk, or bicycle path)

(2) Bicycle – Every vehicle propelled solely by human power ….

(42) Roadway – That portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the berm or shoulder ….

(47) Sidewalk – That portion of a street between the curbline, or the lateral line, of a roadway and the adjacent property lines, intended for use by pedestrians.

(63) Bicycle Path – Any road, path, or way that is open to bicycle travel, which road, path, or way is physically separated from motorized vehicular traffic by an open space or by a barrier ….

(75) Vehicle – Every device, in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway 
FS 316.008 – Powers of Local Authorities (bicycle can reasonably regulated by cities/towns)
(1) The provisions of this chapter shall not be deemed to prevent local authorities, with respect to streets and highways under their jurisdiction and within the reasonable exercise of the police power, from:
(h) Regulating the operation of bicycles 

FS 316.083 - Overtaking and Passing a Vehicle (bicycles must have 3 feet when passed)
The following rules shall govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction, subject to those limitations, exceptions, and special rules hereinafter stated:
(1)**** The driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle must pass the bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle at a safe distance of not less than 3 feet between the vehicle and the bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle.

Fla. Statutes 316.130 – Pedestrians; Traffic Regulations  (cars must stop for bicyclist in their lanes crosswalks or if so close to lane to be in danger)
                                                     * * * * * 
(7)(b) The driver of a vehicle at any crosswalk where signage so indicates shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian (bicyclist or skateboarder) to cross a roadway when the pedestrian (bicyclist or skateboarder) is in the crosswalk or steps into the crosswalk and is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian (bicyclist or skateboarder) is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger. 

(c) When traffic control signals are not in place or in operation and there is no signage indicating otherwise, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian (bicyclist or skateboarder) crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian ((bicyclist) is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian (bicyclist) is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.
316.185 Special hazards. (cars must slow down/avoid bicycles on narrow roads or at crosswalks)
The fact that the speed of a vehicle is lower than the prescribed limits shall not relieve the driver from the duty to decrease speed when approaching and crossing an intersection, when approaching and going around a curve, when approaching a hill crest, when traveling upon any narrow or winding roadway, or when special hazards exist or may exist with respect to pedestrians or other traffic or by reason of weather or other roadway conditions (non-standard road widths/narrow roads for example), and speed shall be decreased as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle, or other conveyance on or entering the street in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care.
Fla. Stat. 316.2065 – Bicycle Regulations (bicycle has the right of cars)

(1) Every person propelling a vehicle by human power has all of the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle.
MUMSDCMSH a/k/a (Florida Greenbook) (14 feet is the recommended lane width for towns and cities to make for lane which can accomodate cars/trucks and bikes if less it's a "non-standard" width) 
Chapter 9 – Bicycle Facilities 
B.3            Curb Lanes
In restricted urban conditions, where it is not possible to include bike lanes or paved shoulders or on lower volume collector streets, an outside lane wider than 12 feet can help accommodate both bicycles and motor vehicles in the same lane. Fourteen feet is the recommended lane width for shared use in a wide curb lane, and is the minimum width that will allow passenger cars to safely pass bicyclists within a single lane.