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Who is at fault when a car hits a bike

December 13, 2010

South Florida has some of the most congested roads in America, the result of Florida’s increasing population over the last 40 years. In addition to the increase in car accidents caused by the congestion, it has become increasingly dangerous for bike riders in Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Pompano Beach and the surrounding cities.

We have represented many clients over the years that have been involved in serious accidents caused by a car while riding their bicycles. Usually, when we contact the insurance company for the car, we are told by the insurance company that the bike rider was at fault for riding the wrong way on a sidewalk, or for riding their bike in the road. However, Florida’s bicycle laws are usually misunderstood by insurance companies when evaluating car versus bicycle accidents.

Here are some of the more important rules of the road for bicyclists in Florida:

Florida Statute § 316.2065 – “Bicycle Regulations”

● bicyclists must obey all traffic controls and signals

● riders under the age of 16 must wear a bicycle helmet

● when a bicycle lane is provided, bike riders must ride in the lane;
when no lane is provided, a bike rider must ride as close to the curb as safely possible

● between sunset and sunrise, all bicycles shall be equipped with a lamp on the front
providing a white light visible from a distance of 500 feet, AND a red lamp on the back visible from a distance of 600 feet

● bike riders can ride on a sidewalk as long as they obey all the “rights and duties” applicable to a pedestrian on the sidewalk

Keep in mind that individual cities such as Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Pompano Beach or other cities in South Florida may have additional municipal ordinances that apply to bike riders. For instance, Palm Beach does not allow bicycle riders on the sidewalk in “commercial zoning” areas. Palm Beach is also notorious for issuing traffic citations to bicycle riders riding more than 2 wide.

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