When you were a kid and you got your first bike, you just wanted to ride wild. You rode in the middle of the street, played chicken with your friends, etc. Now that Miami is making cycling more accessible, with bike lanes and DecoBike rentals popping up all over the place, you might soon find yourself hopping back onto a bicycle seat, if you haven't already. When you do, remember these words of caution.
A rush of nostalgia might make you want to cycle like a reckless, lawless child, but please resist. First, you're not 5 years old anymore. People have a lot less tolerance for 32-year-olds swerving gaily across the double yellow lines. Second, a bicycle is considered a vehicle by law, and that means there are laws to follow -- laws that keep you from running over pedestrians or getting hit by more substantial vehicles. We recently explained Why Your Neighborhood Cyclist Hates You. Well, here's the flip side of that -- things every cyclist should know -- taken from the Florida statute on motor vehicles that applies to bicyclists (Chapter 316, Section 2065):
Bike Like You (Should) Drive
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
under this chapter, except as to special regulations in this chapter,
and except as to provisions of this chapter which by their nature can
have no application."
Basically that means cyclists are expected to stop at stop signs, yield at yield signs,
signal turns, stop for school buses, and stay under the legal blood
alcohol limit while operating their bicycles. Cops can write you tickets
for violating any of these laws, the same way they do for automobile
drivers. That means you can get a DUI on a bike.
Your Bike Is Not a Clown Car
A bicycle may not be used to carry more persons at one time than the
number for which it is designed or equipped, except that an adult rider
may carry a child securely attached to his or her person in a backpack
(b) Except as provided in paragraph
(a), a bicycle rider must carry any passenger who is a child under 4
years of age, or who weighs 40 pounds or less, in a seat or carrier that
is designed to carry a child of that age or size and that secures and
protects the child from the moving parts of the bicycle."
seen a lot of people toting their kids on handlebars or under their
armpits out in the wilds of Miami Beach. Keep in mind, people, you
really don't know what might be coming at you when you're out on the
road, whether it be a pothole or a Hummer-driving, coked-up nightclub
bouncer late for work. Protect your kids! And that leads us to the next
Put the Kids in Helmets
"(d) A bicycle rider or passenger who
is under 16 years of age must wear a bicycle helmet that is properly
fitted and is fastened securely upon the passenger's head by a strap,
and that meets the... nationally recognized standards for bicycle
helmets adopted by the department."
Not to be nervous Nellies, but according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 91 percent of people killed while cycling in 2008 were not wearing helmets.
Don't Pull Any Back to the Future Moves
No person riding upon any bicycle, coaster, roller skates, sled, or toy
vehicle may attach the same or himself or herself to any vehicle upon a
That seems obvious maybe, but we've seen some Jackass-like violations of this rule on South Beach.
Stay in Your Lane
Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal
speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then
existing shall ride in the lane marked for bicycle use or, if no lane is
marked for bicycle use, as close as practicable to the right-hand curb
or edge of the roadway."
This is for all of you
romantic bicycle riders with your iPod buds snaking out of your ears,
obliviously swerving from lane to lane on the residential back streets
of Miami Beach. Wake the fuck up!
Other Florida bicycle laws state that except under special conditions, riders should ride single file, keep at least one hand on the handlebars, and yield the right of way to pedestrians.
influx of bikes is a great step toward catching Miami up on the road to
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"greenliness." If cyclists make themselves aware of the rules of the
road, we can gain green without cracking too many skulls. And yeah, we
know that's not a funny thing to joke about.