Florida’s Move Over Law Adjusted to Keep Bicyclists Safe
Bicyclists are particularly vulnerable on the road. Riding a bike instead of relying on a motor vehicle can benefit both your health and the environment. Still, it is important to remember that bicyclists do not have the metal frame of a car or truck to protect them. This can significantly increase their chances of being injured when bike accidents occur.
Research indicates Florida is among the most dangerous states for bicyclists. Recent adjustments to Florida law may change that. Specifically, Florida has updated its laws regarding how motorists may overtake bicyclists. These laws also apply when overtaking similar vehicles. Examples include non-motorized scooters or electric bicycles. This overview will cover what you need to know about these changes.
How Changes to Florida’s Move Over Laws May Protect Bicyclists
The following conditions have been added to Florida’s “Move Over” laws in regarding to motorists overtaking bicyclists:
- A motorist overtaking a bicyclist or someone operating a similar vehicle in the same lane as them must ensure there is at least three feet of distance between their vehicle and the bicycle when doing so;
- If a motorist cannot pass a bicyclist while ensuring three feet of distance, they must drive at a safe distance behind the bicyclist until they are able to safely overtake them;
- A motorist must ensure there is three feet of distance between their vehicle and a bicycle or similar vehicle when overtaking, even if a bicycle is occupying a designated bike lane.
- Florida’s Department of Motor Vehicles must implement annual awareness programs offering Floridians information about safely overtaking bicycles, electric bikes, and other types of non-motorized vehicles.
However, these requirements do not apply when a motorist is passing a bicyclist in a separated bike lane. Florida law defines a separated bike lane as one in which a physical barrier exists between the lanes for bicyclists and the lanes for motorists.
Requirements for Bicyclists
Florida’s laws do not merely establish requirements for motorists overtaking bicyclists. They also address what cyclists must (and must not) do to ensure the safety of both themselves and others on the road.
Updates that apply to bicyclists and others riding similar vehicles include the following:
- Someone riding a bike or similar vehicle at a rate of speed that is less than the normal rate of speed for other vehicles on the roadway at that time must use a designated bike lane;
- If there is no designated bike lane, a cyclist must usually ride as close to the right as they reasonably can without endangering themselves or others;
- Bicyclists riding on one-way highways with two or more marked lanes have the option of riding as far to the left as they reasonably and safely can;
- Bicyclists on roadways or in bike lanes can ride no more than two abreast except on separated bicycle paths;
- Bicyclists can ride two abreast on roadway bike lanes if they can do so while both remaining in the designated lane;
- Bicyclists can ride two abreast in areas where doing so usually isn’t permitted if they are avoiding hazards or efficiently overtaking other bicyclists;
- If it is impossible to ride two abreast while remaining in the bike lane, bicyclists riding together must ride single-file;
- Groups of bicyclists traveling through stop signs may travel through the intersection in groups of 10 or fewer after coming to a complete stop and checking for oncoming traffic.
Violating these laws constitutes a non-criminal pedestrian violation. It can also impact the amount of compensation a victim may recover after an accident.
A victim’s own negligence can influence how much compensation they might collect after a bicycle accident in Florida. For example, maybe a victim is filing a claim or lawsuit to pursue compensation after a bike accident. Perhaps this accident primarily resulted from another party’s negligence.
However, maybe they were violating Florida’s bicyclist laws in some capacity when the accident occurred. It could be argued that their injuries would have been less severe had they followed the law. This can reduce the amount of compensation they might recover.
In general, though, it is encouraging to see states like Florida proactively addressing bicycle safety concerns. It may be too early to know for certain how these adjustments will affect the safety of bicyclists on Florida’s roads. But, if they work as intended, the rate of bicycle accidents should go down in the coming years.