Cyclists often ask me, “Do I have to ride in a bike lane if there is one,” and “if so, do I have to stay in the bike lane?” Florida law states “a cyclist on a roadway who is not traveling as fast as the “normal speed of traffic” to ride in the lane marked for bicycle use.” Bicycle lanes are naturally intended for through travel but, a cyclist is permitted by law to leave a bicycle lane for many reasons, such as:
In order to make a right turn where a right turn lane is provided to the right of a bicycle lane, a cyclist should leave the bicycle lane. Continuing in the bike lane to the intersection and then making a sharp right turn is dangerous, and could result in injury, if a motorist is present in the right turn lane. A cyclist who intends to proceed straight through an intersection should never ride in a lane marked or signed exclusively for right turns.
Also, a cyclist wanting to make a left turn should vacate the bike lane well ahead of the intersection, instead of making a sharp left turn at the intersection. That action could cut off a motorist in a through lane and cause injuries to the cyclist in an accident.
If a cyclist is riding in the bicycle lane with the intention of continuing forward when approaching an intersection, it is advised that the cyclist adjusts their position to the left in order to reduce the danger of being cut off by a turning motorist. Many crashes have occurred where through cyclists were cut off by motorists who passed the cyclists and made right turns in front of them. Adjusting your position to the left can also help when approached by a driver of a motor vehicle, from the opposite direction, who is making a left turn.
Accidents can and do occur. It is our job to ensure that we are protected in case of an unfortunate event. If you or someone you know has been hurt in a bicycle accident, you need information. Contact us to order your free copy of our Florida Bicycle Accident Handbook. If you need to talk to a lawyer now, contact Jim Dodson Law at 888-207-0905 and we’ll set up a consultation.