Bicycling & Cycling Accident Questions
Are Bicycles Considered Vehicles?
A bicycle is classified as a vehicle. A person in control of a vehicle on a street or highway is a driver. As a driver, a cyclist must follow the traffic rules common to all drivers. As the driver of a bicycle, he or she must also obey regulations adopted specially for bicycles. A person riding a bicycle has all the rights applicable to any driver, except as to special regulations for bicycles.
Are Cyclists Allowed on the Roadways?
Yes, cyclists are allowed on the roadway by law. A person operating a bicycle on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic under the conditions existing must ride in the lane marked for bicycle use or, if no lane is marked for bicycle use, as close as practicable [safe] to the roadway’s right-hand curb or edge, except under any of the following situations:
- when passing another vehicle
- when preparing for a left turn
- when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions including (but not limited to) a fixed or moving object, a parked or moving vehicle, a pedestrian, an animal, or a surface hazard
- when a lane is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side
Are Cyclists Required to Wear Helmets?
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 on the passenger’s head by a strap. The helmet must meet the standards of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI Z 90.4 Bicycle Helmet Standards), the standards of the Snell Memorial Foundation (1984 Standard for Protective Headgear for Use in Bicycling), or any other nationally recognized standards for bicycle helmets adopted by the department.
As used in this subsection, the term “passenger” includes a child who is riding in a trailer or semitrailer attached to a bicycle.
What are Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents by Motorists?
Bicyclists and cyclists are often vulnerable because they do not have the protection of a vehicle or airbags. Common causes of accidents can include:
- Failing to yield at an intersection or crosswalk
- Running a stoplight or stop sign
- Making unexpected turns or lane changes without checking blind spots
- Distracted driving or aggressive driving
- Driving under the influence
- Opening a door in path of bicyclists
Bicycle accidents may also be caused by poor road conditions, including road construction, overgrown vegetation, gravel, debris, loose drainage cover, bridge grating, lack of signage, etc.
What Types of Injures Do Cyclist Obtain?
Some common bicycle accidents injuries can include head trauma (brain injuries), spinal cord injuries (back injuries), broken bones (collar bone or broken pelvis), cuts, scratches, gashes, bruises, and even death.
What Do I Do If I’m in a Bike Accident?
Here are some steps you can take after a bicycle accident:
- Seek Medical Attention. Seek immediate medical attention if necessary.
- Report the Crash. Always report the crash to the police, even if you don’t think you are hurt or your bike has been damaged. If you are in a crash with a motor vehicle where there are personal injuries or damage to property that exceeds $500, Florida law requires you to report the crash.
- Collect Information. Collect and obtain the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of those involved in the crash and any witnesses. Document your physical condition, take photographs of the location, the crash, the other vehicle, your injuries, etc.
- Don’t Divulge Information. Do not apologize, admit guilt, or say anything to the other party involved or the insurance company. If the other party makes a statement, write it down and document it.
- Preserve Evidence. Do not give up your bike to an insurance company or have it fixed at the bike shop until you have talked with an experienced cycling lawyer to ensure your rights are protected. Take photos of the bicycle (any your injuries) and document the exact nature of the damage.
- Report to Insurance Company.
- Consult a Reputable Attorney. Crashes can have ramifications in traffic court, criminal court, or civil court. Contact an experienced cycling and bicycle accident attorney to discuss and protect your rights.
Whose Insurance Covers Me in a Bicycle Accident?
Your own auto insurance is the primary insurance to cover your medical expenses. If there is an at-fault party, you can go after their bodily injury insurance. If the at-fault party does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance, you may be able to go under your own underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage policy.
What are Some Steps I Can Take to Avoid a Bicycle Accident?
- Follow all state bicycling laws.
- Ride with the flow of traffic.
- Always use bike lanes when present.
- Use proper hand signals when stopping or turning.
- Avoid riding on freeways or busy highways.
- Don’t hitch rides by hanging onto the back of another vehicle.
- Do not wear headphones while riding.
- Always wear an approved safety helmet.