South Florida is a vast, sprawling network of communities with limited and inefficient public transportation options in most areas – so most of us have to drive. At the same time, the usually beautiful weather encourages outdoor activity, and cycling is an extremely popular choice for those looking for a fun way to exercise, and perhaps a bit of competition. By necessity bicyclists and drivers usually share the same roads; but as they travel at vastly different speeds and with differents agendas – transportation vs. recreation – conflicts inevitably arise.
The bicycle regulations in the state of Florida are lengthy, but clear. Cyclists are to follow all of the same traffic laws as other vehicles, but with additional restrictions. The two that cause the most conflicts are 1) Cyclists “…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” (with some exceptions), and 2) Cyclists “…may not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Persons riding two abreast may not impede traffic when traveling at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing and shall ride within a single lane.”
If while driving you have ever encountered a group of cyclists slowing traffic, forcing cars to weave dangerously around them, and violating a number of other state regulations, you know that it can be infuriating. They are breaking the law! They are being selfish! They do not care that others have places to be! On the flip side, if you have been riding your bike in a responsible manner and had to endure the honking, distracted drivers, speeding, and other life-threatening motorist behavior from those who refuse to share the road, you have equal right to be upset.
Who is correct? The simple answer is “those who obey the law”. Too often people on both sides put their personal view of the situation first, and the law second. But doing so can lead to a cascading series of mistakes, and in the heat of the moment – in a fit of Road Rage – bad things can happen. Cyclists start pounding on cars, drivers start cursing at cyclists, knives get pulled, kids get run over, and sometimes people die.
Laws may change, but ultimately it is up to us as citizens and neighbors to respect the law and have some patience with one another. Drivers, it is better to endure a short delay than to end up in the hospital – or jail. Cyclists, it is better to ignore provocations than risk your life by engaging with people controlling multi-thousand pound vehicles and possibly carrying weapons.
The roads will unfortunately never be free of accidents, arguments, and deaths. There will always be people who are careless with the law, or who do not exercise basic common sense. When tragedy occurs, you need a qualified and experienced attorney on your side to ensure that you are protected both legally and financially. We at the the Blaut Weiss Law Group have more than 60 years of combined personal injury and property damage experience that can be put to work for you. Schedule a free consultation at www.blautweiss.com/contact.php.