The joy of bicycling is an activity that many of our residents (young and old) enjoy in our city every day. Here are a few safety tips and applicable laws to follow in order to safely enjoy you’re cycling experience.
While riding a bicycle on a roadway, bicyclists have the same duty to obey stop signs and traffic lights as do other vehicles. Bicyclists must also ride in the same direction as traffic, and as close as possible to the right hand curb or side of the road as circumstances allow. Where there is a designated bike path, riders are required to use the bike path and travel on the same side and direction as traffic is going. Remember that vehicles entering a roadway will generally look in the direction that traffic is coming from and may not see you if you are riding in the wrong direction on the wrong side of the street.
Generally speaking, bicycles are considered vehicles when on the road and riders have the same rights and responsibilities as all other vehicles, with some exceptions. When on pathways where cycling is not prohibited by local ordinance (like sidewalks and other places where motor vehicles are not allowed) cyclists are considered second-class users with pedestrians having the right of way in most cases.
Bicyclists may use the crosswalk if riding on the sidewalk, and when doing so, have the rights and duties of pedestrians. They are not required to dismount before crossing the roadway, although it is always safer for young riders to walk their bikes across the street after looking both ways.
Florida law states that anyone under the age of 16, as an operator or passenger on a bicycle, is required by law to wear a protective bicycle helmet. The Lighthouse Point Police Department maintains a small inventory of new helmets, and will provide one to a child in cases where the family does not have the financial means to obtain one.
A bicycle may not be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed or equipped. A bicycle rider may carry a child under 4 years of age, or who weighs 40 pounds or less, in a seat or carrier that is specifically designed to safely carry a child of that age or size. Be sure to protect against loose clothing getting caught up in moving bicycle parts. Please remember that a bicycle rider may not allow a child to remain in a child seat or carrier on a bike when the rider is not in immediate control of the bicycle.
Headsets are prohibited while riding a bicycle. They can and do mask the sounds of other traffic that the rider needs to be aware of in order to travel safely.
State law requires every bicycle in use between sunset and sunrise to be equipped with a lamp (exhibiting a white light) on the front of a bicycle. The light must be visible from a distance of at least 500 feet. Bicycles must also be equipped with a red reflector that can be visible from a distance of 600 feet. For an added measure of safety, some bicyclists will wear bright and/or reflective clothing (especially at night) to enhance their visibility to motorists.
In order to prevent the theft of your bicycle when out and about, remember to always use a bicycle lock to properly secure your bicycle to a bike rack or other secure object.
The Lighthouse Point Police Department also offers a free service to local residents who would like to register their bicycle. The Department will establish a permanent record, including the documentation of the bicycle serial number and apply a unique engraved number for future reference if your bicycle is stolen. For more information, contact Officer Paul McCormick at 954-942-8080.
Ride carefully and stay safe!