Cyclists can potentially use their bikes as a main form of transportation year-round in the Miami area. Except when it rains, which is almost daily during the rainy season, bikes can be a convenient and affordable and form of transportation.
Those who follow traffic laws carefully can also keep themselves relatively safe even though they have to share the road with motor vehicles. There are, however, some rules that may increase an individual’s risk of injury on their next bike ride. Technically, under Florida law, it is legal to ride bicycles on the sidewalk. Despite the legal right to ride on the sidewalk, most safety experts agree that sidewalk riding is generally not the safest choice.
Sidewalk riding reduces predictability and visibility
Traffic safety experts recognize that visibility is one of the main concerns for the safety of cyclists on the road. Drivers who don’t spot a cyclist might turn directly in front of a cyclist or strike them when they merge into a different line of traffic. Drivers may also have a hard time predicting what a cyclist will do, as they do not have the clear visual indicators that motor vehicles do.
Riding on a sidewalk exacerbates visibility issues. Most drivers don’t think to look on the sidewalk for bicycles. Particularly when approaching intersections and crosswalks, someone riding on a sidewalk might mean that a driver fails to notice a bicycle nearby. Additionally, riding on the sidewalk can be dangerous because it exposes cyclists to pedestrians who may come out of vehicles or shops. Even those backing down a driveway in residential neighborhoods might fail to check the sidewalk for cyclists while backing out onto the streets.
There are scenarios in which riding on the sidewalk is the best and safest option, but Florida cyclists will generally benefit from minimizing how much time they spend on the sidewalk. Any steps a cyclist takes to make them more visible to those in motor vehicles could protect them from a crash that could cause life-altering injuries.