Motor vehicle operators need to share the road with people on bicycles, which the law also considers vehicles. For the most part, cyclists are subject to the same rules as those in larger, motorized vehicles. They should drive on the right side of the road, indicate when they intend to turn and abide by all signage and lights.
However, there are special rules that only apply to bicycles and to the vehicles that encounter them in traffic. Following Florida’s traffic laws can help to reduce the likelihood of a collision between a cyclist and a driver, which would likely have very serious consequences for the person on the bicycle. For example, Florida has a special rule about passing bicycles.
Adequate space is crucial for safe passing
Any vehicle can pass or overtake another vehicle traveling at a slower rate of speed. Even the fastest cyclist traveling on a street with a low speed limit will likely struggle to keep up with motor vehicles near them in traffic. Therefore, those in motor Vehicles often seek to move around bicycles whenever possible.
Florida law requires at least a three-foot passing distance. Additionally, drivers should try to pass when there isn’t oncoming traffic. To lawfully pass a bicycle in Florida, a motorist must wait until there is enough space for them to leave 3 feet between their vehicle and the bicycle. If there is oncoming traffic or the road is particularly narrow, the driver may need to reduce their speed to remain behind the bicycle and wait until circumstances improve.
Getting too close to a bicycle could potentially lead to a collision or the cyclist losing control of their bike. Either of those scenarios might lead to an injured cyclist taking legal action against the driver who improperly passed them. Not only could the driver have to pay a ticket for causing the crash, but the cyclist might file an insurance claim that would lead to much higher premiums in the future.
Learning about and complying with the traffic rules that apply when sharing the road with cyclists can help drivers minimize their chances of causing a crash.