At this time of year, Central Florida’s weather is wonderful to go for a bike ride in. Central Florida has seen a great increase in the number of bicyclists riding on the streets and a significant increase in new bicycle shops opening. Some are training for other athletic events, some are just out for exercise, some are riding for fun with their family. We must all remember that bicyclists are required to follow the same rules of the road as cars.
However, we often see riders who do not stop at stop signs or red lights, as they do not want to slow down their ride. This can result in a traffic ticket, but even worse, it could result in an accident, which usually causes significant injuries. Most riders wear helmets, but those do not protect your body when you are hit by a car. We have handled many bicycle accident cases, and the rider has usually sustained significant injuries. In one case, our client lost vision in an eye due to the crash and the helmet could not prevent that from happening. Head, neck, arms, legs and internal injuries are the most common, along with severe road rash that results in significant scarring.
Florida also has what is known as the 3-foot rule. This means that when a car passes a bicycle, the car is supposed to give at least three feet of clearance between the bike and the car. I see this happen on rare occasions, especially if it requires the car to go into the oncoming lane.
Central Florida has also seen a significant increase in “bike lanes” painted on the roadways themselves. Bicyclists are supposed to stay in this “bike lane,” but they do not always do so, making it difficult for the driver of a car to give the specific clearance.
Biking can be great fun and good exercise but ride with caution. Here are some safety tips to consider:
- Always ride with a flashing red light on the back of your body or your bike, visible both during the day and especially at dark.
- Wear reflective clothing. Most bike shops sell clothing that is not only brightly colored but also reflective.
- Do not ride your bike at night wearing dark clothing and no lights. You may be able to see, but cars cannot see you.
- ALWAYS obey the traffic laws and ride defensively.
- You must anticipate that cars are not looking for or seeing you. Anticipate which way a driver of a car is looking and be prepared to stop or make an evasive maneuver to avoid a crash.
- Watch out for blind driveways, where vision is blocked by bushes or trees and try to avoid those areas.
- ALWAYS ride in the direction of traffic.
- Wear your helmet and make sure it is properly secured and buckled. An unbuckled helmet is like not wearing a helmet at all.
- Try to ride with others, as it is easier for a driver to see multiple bicycles than a lone rider.
- Lastly, do not be distracted by using your cell phone or listening to loud music.
Go out and enjoy your ride but be careful and don’t be distracted by cell phones or that person walking their dog on the trail.
If you, a friend or a loved one are unfortunately injured as a result of a bicycle accident or have any questions, do not hesitate to contact Wieland, Hilado & DeLattre, P.A. at (407) 841-7699. For additional resources, keep checking our blog, LIKE us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more helpful hints and to always be informed about best practices in law.