We all know that The Villages is a popular retirement community with plans to grow significantly in the near future. We also know that many of the new Villagers will turn to cycling the trails and roadways in and around our hometown for extended physical exercise and fun. Here are a few bits of information about cycling rules and rights:
First… It is very clear in federal, state and even some local ordinances that bicycles are defined as vehicles with the same rights and responsibilities as a motor vehicle. As bicyclists, we are vehicles, we are traffic, we belong on any public road other than limited access roads (I-95, turnpikes, toll-roads). When riding on a public roadway a cyclist must ride as far to the right as practicable (reasonable and safe) NOT as far right as possible.
Second… As vehicles, bicycles are mandated to stop at stop signs and red lights, yield when entering roundabouts and we must follow all of the rules of the road. A bike driver must: ride with traffic, ride in a properly marked bicycle lane when one is provided (not the roadway shoulder), take the left lane when preparing to make a left turn or when avoiding any hazard or potential conflict. A bicycle may ride further to the left when the lane is “a substandard width lane” defined in Florida law as:
“a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.” The design guide for state roads defines the standard lane as 14 feet wide (8 feet for the passing vehicle, a 3 foot minimum passing distance and 3 feet for the bike).
Third… Bicyclists must use signals.
A signal of intention to turn right or left must be given continuously during not less than the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning, except that such a signal by hand or arm need not be given continuously by a bicyclist if the hand is needed in the control or operation of the bicycle.
Every cyclist must use hand signals when changing lanes, making turns, slowing or stopping. Below is a graphic of hand signals to be used by cyclists and recognized by motorists:
Motor vehicles and other vehicles are mandated in law to share our roadways in a way that is lawful, predictable and hopefully courteous. I am confident that the above three items provide a basic understanding that bicycles are vehicles and are granted by law with all of the same rights and duties of other vehicles.
Let’s all be safe out there.
Villager Dave Lawrence is director of safety for the Sumter Landing Bicycle Club.