By: Anthony A. Velardi, Esq.
Clark, Campbell, Lancaster & Munson, P.A.
Q: I recently purchased a road bicycle from my local bike shop and plan to take to the road. What laws do I need to know?
A: During this time of year with the culmination of the Tour de France, it is common for people to become inspired and take up road biking with the hope of emulating their favorite rider or perhaps just looking to get more exercise.
When starting any new sport, a person should become familiar with the rules, and with road biking the laws of the road apply. A cyclist should obey all traffic laws such as stopping at stop signs and red lights and using hand signals when making turns.
If you are under 16 years old and riding a bicycle on a bike path or road, you are required by law to wear a bike helmet. If you are 16 or older, you are within your rights to choose not to wear a bike helmet, but a helmet is a wise choice for safety reasons and especially if you plan to ride with a group because many groups require their riders wear helmets.
If you are riding on a road with a bike lane, you must use the bike lane. If there is no bike lane, then you must ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except (a) when overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle going in the same direction, (b) when preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway, or (c) when reasonably necessary to avoid an impediment such as a parked vehicle, pedestrian, pothole, or “substandard-width lane” which is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side in the lane.
Cyclists may ride not more than 2 abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Furthermore, persons riding 2 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 you plan to ride your bike late at night after sunset or early in the morning before sunrise, you must have a lamp with a white light on the front of your bike which is visible from a distance of at least 500 feet and a lamp and reflector with a red light on the rear visible from 600 feet.
If the driver of a motor vehicle overtakes you, the driver of the motor vehicle must maintain a safe distance of at least 3 feet between you and the motor vehicle.
Now that you know some of the basics, you are ready to get out there and enjoy your road bike. Remember to be careful and educate your friends, fellow cyclists, and drivers about bike laws and bike safety.
The August 11th edition of “The Law” will discuss the risks and protections for businesses that use links and quotes to third party content on their websites and social media.
Anthony Velardi is an attorney with the law firm Clark, Campbell, Lancaster & Munson, P.A. Anthony rides with the Bartow Cycling Group and Road & Trail Cycling Group. Questions can be submitted online to firstname.lastname@example.org.