Rules of the Road: For Starters, Don't Bike Like an A-hole

Categories: Lifestyle
When you were a kid and you got your first bike, you just wanted to ride wild. You rode in the middle of the street, played chicken with your friends, etc. Now that Miami is making cycling more accessible, with bike lanes and DecoBike rentals popping up all over the place, you might soon find yourself hopping back onto a bicycle seat, if you haven't already. When you do, remember these words of caution.

A rush of nostalgia might make you want to cycle like a reckless, lawless child, but please resist. First, you're not 5 years old anymore. People have a lot less tolerance for 32-year-olds swerving gaily across the double yellow lines. Second, a bicycle is considered a vehicle by law, and that means there are laws to follow -- laws that keep you from running over pedestrians or getting hit by more substantial vehicles. We recently explained Why Your Neighborhood Cyclist Hates You. Well, here's the flip side of that -- things every cyclist should know -- taken from the Florida statute on motor vehicles that applies to bicyclists (Chapter 316, Section 2065):

Bike Like You (Should) Drive
"(1) Every person propelling a vehicle by human power has all of the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle under this chapter, except as to special regulations in this chapter, and except as to provisions of this chapter which by their nature can have no application."
Basically that means cyclists are expected to stop at stop signs, yield at yield signs, signal turns, stop for school buses, and stay under the legal blood alcohol limit while operating their bicycles. Cops can write you tickets for violating any of these laws, the same way they do for automobile drivers. That means you can get a DUI on a bike.

Your Bike Is Not a Clown Car
"(3)(a)  A bicycle may not be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed or equipped, except that an adult rider may carry a child securely attached to his or her person in a backpack or sling.

(b) Except as provided in paragraph (a), a bicycle rider must carry any passenger who is a child under 4 years of age, or who weighs 40 pounds or less, in a seat or carrier that is designed to carry a child of that age or size and that secures and protects the child from the moving parts of the bicycle."
We've seen a lot of people toting their kids on handlebars or under their armpits out in the wilds of Miami Beach. Keep in mind, people, you really don't know what might be coming at you when you're out on the road, whether it be a pothole or a Hummer-driving, coked-up nightclub bouncer late for work. Protect your kids! And that leads us to the next point:

Put the Kids in Helmets
"(d) 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 upon the passenger's head by a strap, and that meets the... nationally recognized standards for bicycle helmets adopted by the department."
Not to be nervous Nellies, but according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 91 percent of people killed while cycling in 2008 were not wearing helmets.

Don't Pull Any Back to the Future Moves
"(4)  No person riding upon any bicycle, coaster, roller skates, sled, or toy vehicle may attach the same or himself or herself to any vehicle upon a roadway."
That seems obvious maybe, but we've seen some Jackass-like violations of this rule on South Beach.

Stay in Your Lane
"(5)(a)  Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride in the lane marked for bicycle use or, if no lane is marked for bicycle use, as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway."
This is for all of you romantic bicycle riders with your iPod buds snaking out of your ears, obliviously swerving from lane to lane on the residential back streets of Miami Beach. Wake the fuck up!

Other Florida bicycle laws state that except under special conditions, riders should ride single file, keep at least one hand on the handlebars, and yield the right of way to pedestrians.

An influx of bikes is a great step toward catching Miami up on the road to "greenliness." If cyclists make themselves aware of the rules of the road, we can gain green without cracking too many skulls. And yeah, we know that's not a funny thing to joke about.

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My Voice Nation Help

I do believe you, A road bike should always be picked out with heavy concern on your level of skill

Brandt A.
Brandt A.

Another tip: if you have lights that can be clearly seen during the day, use them (during the day). There are too many texters out there to risk getting hit. Planet Bike's Superflash headlight and taillight work well in this regard. They are inexpensive, bright lights that will catch anyone's attention, day or night.


Also, try to stay off the sideWALKS...I am guilty of it from time to time, but try to be conscientous

Opus the Poet
Opus the Poet

All you need to do now is get this information to the aforementioned coked-up Hummer driver and his buddies, who actually kill people riding on bikes. You know the part where drivers are supposed to not hit other vehicles on the roads with them, even if said vehicles are (just) bicycles?


Stay in your lane. Yes. To the extreem right. No, never. There's less of a chance of you getting hit if you take up the lane (right side tire path for a auto). Autos are forced to change lanes and not "squeeze by" scaring the pee out of you. If you have to follow traffic laws be like traffic. Don't let drivers intimidate you but at the same time be friendly and smile as you cuss them out for cutting you off.BTW DUI's are for drivers of motorized vehicles, PI (public intox.) is what they give cyclists and (cowboys on horse back google it) here in Austin Tx. Just my humble opinion.Cheers and recycle damn it!


"Not to be nervous Nellies, but according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 91 percent of people killed while cycling in 2008 were not wearing helmets."

While 100% of motorists killed while driving in 2008 were not wearing helmets. If stats aren't specific don't spout them! A cyclist spattered by said coked up bouncer will not survive with or without a helmet.

James Donohue
James Donohue

Hey, I was the first kid in my neighborhood to start wearing a helmet, back in 1977. Back then, laws did not yet require parents to buy bicycle helmets for their kids, so I had to earn the money to buy the helmet. And I paid seventy dollars for that helmet - they were more expensive then than they are now because they were new. Kids today don't realize how good it is that their parents buy helmets for them, and they don't have to mow lawns to earn the money. $70.00 in 1977 money is like $300.00 today.Second point I'd like to make is that bicycling slower is often safer. You can ride closer to the edge of the road at a slow speed. You might think that going fast will reduce your chance of getting hit from behind by a car, but it doesn't work that way - look at the statistics for motorcycle accidents - bicycling is safer than motorcycling.Third, there is NO law requiring a rear-view mirror on a bicycle, but every cyclist should get one. It seems strange to me that no law exists regarding rear-view mirrors on bicycles. Although today, you can get a convex mirror, which gives a wide-angle view. The older mirrors were flat and left a blind spot, they were next to useless.People think of bicyclists as looking happy and carefree , but the real cyclists who go the distance have the look of grim determination etched in their faces.

Brandt A.
Brandt A.

That is also my advice too, but I usually put a disclaimer to that advice: DO get on the sidewalk if you feel unsafe at any point in time, particularly where the road's designed speed is above 35 mph and/or there are more than two lanes of traffic with no bike lane. After all, riding on the sidewalk is allowed by the law.

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