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Bike Safety

There are many things you can do to make sure your bicycle is safe to ride. Your bicycle manual has a lot of information about the kind of bicycle you ride. With a parent, you should check for the following:

  • Make sure your bicycle is the right size for you. When you are on your bicycle, stand straddling the top bar of your bike so that both feet are flat on the ground.
  • Tighten your bike's seat, handlebars, and wheels. Make sure the wheels are straight.
  • Check and oil your chain regularly.
  • Always check your brakes before riding to make sure they are working properly and do not stick.
  • Check your tires to make sure they have enough air and the correct tire pressure.
  • If you'll need to carry something while you ride, attach a basket to your handlebars or a rack over your rear tire.
  • Put reflectors on your bike to help people see you. You should put a red reflector, 3 inches across, behind your front seat. There should also be a white reflector in front of the handlebars, and other reflectors in the spokes of both wheels.
The Law and Bicycles
In Florida the bicycle is legally defined as a vehicle (but not a motor vehicle). A bicyclist has all the rights of drivers of other vehicles, except in those cases in which special provisions have been adopted for bicycles.

A bicyclist must obey the traffic laws and traffic control devices that apply to the driver of any vehicle. A cyclist on a roadway must ride in the direction of traffic. Cycling in the opposite direction, so as to face oncoming traffic, is a contributing cause in many bicycle crashes. Other drivers do not expect traffic to approach on the right.

Bicycle Regulations
(Section 316.2065, F.S.) A bicycle may not be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed or equipped. A bicycle rider or passenger under age 16 must wear a bicycle helmet that meets a nationally recognized standard. Under federal law, bicycle helmets manufactured since March 1999 are required to meet the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) standard. At least one hand must be kept on the handlebars while riding. Parents or guardians must not knowingly allow a child or minor ward to violate any provision of this section.

Sidewalk Riding
(Section 316.2065, F.S.) When riding on a sidewalk or crosswalk, a bicyclist has the rights and duties of a pedestrian. Since a cyclist riding on a sidewalk does not have the duties (or rights) of a driver, he may ride in either direction. (However, it is safer to ride in the direction of traffic, since drivers do not expect cyclists to come from the other direction at driveways and crosswalks.) At a signalized intersection, he must obey the instructions of any applicable pedestrian control signal. A bicyclist riding on sidewalks or in crosswalks must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and must give an audible signal before passing.

Signaling for Turns
(Sub-sections 316.155(2) and 316.157(2), F.S.) A signal of intention to turn must be given during the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning. If a bicyclist needs both hands for control, the signal need not be given continuously. A cyclist signals intent to turn left by extending the left arm horizontally. A bicyclist may signal intent to turn right either by extending the left hand and arm upward or by extending the right hand and arm horizontally to the right side of the bicycle.

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