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In the Florida Keys, many people ride bicycles for exercise, recreation and to get from place to place instead of driving a car. Unlike a car, however, there is no driving test required to ride a bicycle. Many of us learned to ride when we were children, but many people remain unaware of the requirements attached to riding a bike. And the consequences of making a mistake when riding a bike can be severe – many bicyclists are hit and seriously injured or killed. A bicycle offers virtually no protection during an accident, and bicyclists are often overlooked by motorized vehicle drivers who fail to see them. When you are riding a bike, it is wise to be a defensive driver. Keep a close eye on all other vehicles around you; be smart and be aware.
We have many bike paths throughout the Keys and bicyclists should use them whenever possible. This doesn’t mean you are entirely safe, however. There are many intersections where motor vehicles cross the bike path. Never assume a motor vehicle will stop for you. A motor vehicle driver may not see you coming. Keep a close eye out and be prepared for anything.
It is first and foremost important to know most of the same traffic laws that apply to cars traveling on a roadway also apply to bicycles traveling on a roadway. For instance:
Wear that Bike Helmet!
The Sheriff’s Office would like to remind everyone that bicyclists under the age of 16 must wear a properly fitted and secured bicycle helmet which meets nationally recognized standards. A person found to be in violation of this law will receive a nonmoving traffic citation. This includes children riding in a trailer or semi-trailer attached to a bicycle. Adult riders are wise to also wear a helmet. They can protect your head in case you fall off your bike or are hit by a car.
The law also prohibits a bicycle from carrying more people than it was designed to carry. Passengers under four years old, weighing 40 pounds or less, must be secured in a carrier designed to hold a child that age and size to protect the child from moving.
Some other points to remember while riding a bike:
If you are caught violating Florida law, the fines for moving traffic violations will apply and can be substantial.