Bicycling Street Smarts, CyclingSavvy Edition

Supplement for Florida Bicyclists

This supplement has been created for Florida bicyclists to accompany the print or electronic version of Bicycling Street Smarts (CyclingSavvy Edition, 2024) by John S. Allen (author) & Keri Caffrey (illustrator). An electronic Kindle version can be purchased from or borrowed free by Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

Bicycle Drivers and the Florida Uniform Traffic Control Law

Operating a vehicle safely and efficiently in traffic requires the ability to collect and process information about traffic conditions, determine a course of action, and execute it—all on a continuous basis. As a cyclist on a roadway, you are the driver of a vehicle and are responsible for complying with the Florida Uniform Traffic Control Law. This code, set forth in Chapter 316 of the Florida Statutes, governs the operation of all vehicles operated on public roads in Florida.

Human powered bicycles and electric bikes are defined legally as vehicles under §316.003 (4) and §316.003 (23), respectively. Bicyclists are defined legally as drivers under §316.003 (21). Bicylists have the same rights and duties as drivers of other vehicles, except regarding special regulations for bicycles and electric bikes under §316.2065 and §316.20655 respectively.

Equipment and passengers

Lighting equipment [§316.2065(7)] Every bicycle in use between sunset and sunrise shall be equipped with a lamp on the front exhibiting a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and a lamp and reflector on the rear each exhibiting a red light visible from a distance of 600 feet to the rear. A bicycle or its rider may be equipped with lights or reflectors in addition to those required.

Comment: The risk of fatal or incapacitating injury increases sharply at night.  Moderately priced bike lights cost far less than a trip to the emergency room and bicycle replacement or repair.

Brakes [§316.2065(13)] Every bicycle must be equipped with a brake or brakes that allow the rider to stop within 25 feet from a speed of 10 mph on dry, level, clean pavement.

Bicycle helmet [§316.2065(3)(d)] A bicycle rider or passenger under 16 years of age must wear a bicycle helmet that is properly fitted and is fastened securely upon the passenger’s head by a strap and that meets the federal safety standard for bicycle helmets.  The term “passenger” includes a child who is riding in a trailer or semitrailer attached to a bicycle.

Comment: The federal safety standard for bicycle helmets is adopted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  It comprises a standard for helmets for riders age five and older and another for riders age one and older. Bicycle helmets, properly fitted and secured, have been found effective in reducing the incidence and severity of head, brain, and upper facial injury.  (Head injuries account for about one third of the hospital emergency room visits of injured bicyclists.) Use of helmets by adult role models promotes use among youth. The lack of a bicycle helmet does not indicate carelessness or fault in a crash on the part of the bicyclist.

Wearing of headsets [§316.304(1)] No person shall operate a vehicle while wearing a headset, headphone, or other listening device, other than a hearing aid. This does not apply to using a headset in conjunction with a cellular telephone that only provides sound through one ear and allows surrounding sounds to be heard with the other ear [§316.304(2)(d)].

Comment: Loud headphones can damage hearing and shut out the outside world.

Carrying a passenger [§316.2065(3)(a)(b)] A bicycle may not be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed or equipped; an adult bicyclist may carry a child securely attached to his or her person in a backpack or sling, or in a seat or carrier designed to carry a child that secures and protects the child from moving parts of the bicycle.

Laws for all drivers

Impartial enforcement of traffic law on all roadway users improves the climate for bicycle enforcement.

Duty to exercise due care [§316.130(15)] Every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or any person propelling a human-powered vehicle and give warning when necessary and exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused or incapacitated person. [§316.1925] Any person operating a vehicle upon the streets or highways within the state shall drive the same in a careful and prudent manner, having regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic and all other attendant circumstances, so as not to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person. Failure to drive in such a manner shall constitute careless driving.

Not to drive under the influence [§316.193] It is unlawful to operate any vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. [§316.1932] The requirement to submit to a breath test does not apply to a bicyclist, since consent is deemed to have been given only by a person with a driver license who is operating a motor vehicle. [§316.1936(2)] It is unlawful for any person to possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage while operating a vehicle, or while one is a passenger in or ON any vehicle.

Driving on right side of roadway  [§316.081] Upon all two-way roadways of sufficient width, a vehicle shall be driven upon the right half of the roadway. Exceptions include (a) when overtaking and passing another vehicle under the rules governing such movement and (b) when an obstruction exists making it necessary to drive to the left of the center of the highway; provided any person so doing shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles traveling in the proper direction upon the unobstructed portion of the highway within such distance as to constitute an immediate hazard.

Comment: A bicyclist driving against the direction of traffic on the roadway should be warned or cited. This is a major contributing factor in bicycle-motor vehicle crashes; motorists entering and leaving the roadway at intersections and driveways do not expect traffic to approach from the wrong direction.

Obedience to traffic control devices [§316.074] The driver of any vehicle shall obey the instructions of any official traffic control device (signs, markings, and traffic signals). [§316.075] Vehicular traffic must comply with indications of traffic control signals.

Entering stop or yield intersections [§316.123), 316.130(7)]

Comment: In the U.S., the STOP sign has been the sign most commonly used to control priority at intersections and public driveways; YIELD signs may also be used for this purpose. A driver who approaches a STOP or YIELD sign must, before proceeding into the intersection, (1) stop at a marked stop line, if present, and otherwise before the crosswalk (at a STOP sign), (2) yield to a pedestrian crossing in the crosswalk (whether marked or unmarked) and (3) yield to drivers in the crossing road.  The legal difference is that, at a YIELD sign, the driver is required to slow to a speed reasonable for the existing conditions but need stop only if necessary to yield or otherwise necessary for safety.  Proper yielding prevents crashes; stopping and proceeding without yielding does not.

Comment: An electrical circuit with loops embedded in the pavement is commonly used to detect vehicles waiting for a green light at a signalized intersection.  These loops are essentially metal detectors.  The most sensitive position for a two-wheeled vehicle is (usually) directly over a pavement cut, but if the detector’s sensitivity is set too low, a bicycle or motorcycle may not be detected; the signal will stay red until a car stops over the loop.  An unresponsive loop should be reported to the local traffic engineering office.

Intersection where traffic lights are inoperative [§316.1235] The driver of a vehicle approaching an intersection in which the traffic lights are inoperative shall stop in the manner indicated in [§316.123(2)] for approaching a stop intersection.

Yielding on entry to roadway [§316.125(2)] The driver of a vehicle emerging from an alley, building, private road or driveway shall stop the vehicle immediately prior to driving onto a sidewalk crossing, and shall yield to all vehicles and pedestrians which are so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard.

Comment: Failure to observe this rule is a typical factor in crashes involving sidewalk cyclists.

Overtaking and passing a vehicle [§316.083] The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction must pass to the left thereof at a safe distance, and must not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle. The driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle or other non-motorized vehicle or electric bicycle must pass the bicycle or other non-motorized vehicle or electric bicycle at a safe distance of not less than 3 feet between the vehicle and the bicycle or other non-motorized vehicle or electric bicycle.

[§316.085] No vehicle shall be driven to the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction unless the left side is clearly visible and free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit passing to be completely made without interfering with the operation of any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction of any vehicle overtaken.  In every event the overtaking vehicle must return to an authorized lane of travel as soon as practicable and, in the event the passing movement involves the use of a lane authorized for vehicles approaching from the opposite direction, before coming within 200 feet of any approaching vehicle.

No Passing Zone exception for bicyclists [§316.0875(3(c)] This section does not apply to a driver who safely and briefly drives to the left of the center of the roadway (crossing a no-passing lane marking) only to the extent necessary to overtake and pass a bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle or an electric bicycle.

Comment: A motorist may cross the center line in a no-passing zone to pass the cyclist if the way is clear to do so, i.e., when it can be seen that any oncoming traffic is far enough ahead that the motorist could finish passing before coming within 200 feet of an oncoming vehicle.  About one percent of bicycle-motor vehicle crashes involve motorists who misjudge the width or length necessary to pass a cyclist.  Close passing causes some cyclists to “hug the curb,” or ride on the sidewalk, where crash risk actually increases.

When overtaking on the right is permitted [§316.084]  (1) The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass on the right of another vehicle only under the following conditions: (a) when the vehicle overtaken is making or about to make a left turn; (b) upon a street or highway with unobstructed pavement not occupied by parked vehicles of sufficient width for two or more lines of moving traffic in each direction; (c) upon a one-way street, or upon any roadway on which traffic is restricted to one direction of movement, where the roadway is free from obstructions and of sufficient width for two or more lines of moving vehicles.  (2) The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass another vehicle on the right only under conditions permitting such movement in safety.  In no event shall such movement be made by driving off pavement or main-traveled portion of the roadway.

Comment: A bicyclist traveling on a roadway in a bicycle lane, or in a lane wide enough for motor vehicles and bicycles safely to share, may pass motor vehicles on the right, because there is sufficient width in this case for two lines of moving traffic-motor vehicle traffic and bicycle traffic. However, the cyclist should proceed with care—”only under conditions permitting such movement in safety.” Cars or trucks may turn at driveways, or at the next intersection.

Method of turning right at intersections [§316.151(1)(a)] Both the approach for a right turn and the turn shall be made as closely as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.

Comment: For this reason, a motor vehicle driver pre- paring to turn right should—after yielding to any bicycle driver present—enter or closely approach a bicycle lane, if one is present. This reduces conflicts with following drivers and makes the driver’s intention more clear than signaling alone, and prevents an overtaking cyclist from trying to pass on the right and possibly colliding.  A motorist who makes a sharp right turn immediately after passing has turned incorrectly.

Not to stand or park in bicycle lane [§316.1945(1)(b)6] Except when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic, or in compliance with law or the directions of a police officer or official traffic control device, no person shall stand or park a vehicle, whether occupied or not, on an exclusive bicycle lane, except momentarily to pick up or discharge a passenger or passengers.

Laws for bicycle drivers

Position on roadway [§316.2065(5)(a)] Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing must ride in the bicycle lane or, if there is no lane is bicycle lane on the roadway, as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:
(1) when overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction;
(2) when preparing for a left turn;
(3) when reasonably necessary to avoid any condition or potential conflict, including, but not limited to, a fixed or moving object, parked or moving vehicle, bicycle, pedestrian, animal, surface hazard, turn lane or substandard width lane (defined as a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side).
(b) A bicyclist driving on a one-way highway with two or more marked traffic lanes may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of such roadway as practicable.

Comment: “As far right as practicable” means “as far right as reasonable and safe,” not “as far right as possible.” While Florida law requires bicyclists traveling slower than other traffic to ride as far right as practicable, it also provides several exceptions, and at least one usually applies. The following flowchart outlines the exceptions, any of which authorizes bicyclists to use the full lane. Learn more about where to ride on the road in Chapter 2 (p. 10) as well as Chapters 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 of Bicycling Street Smarts.

roadway position flow chart

“Substandard Width Lane” is a lane too narrow to share side by side with a car. It has no other definition.

lane widths

Comment: A bicycle lane is

any portion of a roadway or highway which is designated by pavement markings and signs for the preferential or exclusive use by bicycles (motorists may enter or cross a bicycle lane to turn into or off a roadway at intersections and driveways). The official symbol marking used in Florida to designate a bicycle lane is shown in the flow chart below (FDOT Design Standards Index 17347 and Florida Greenbook).

bike lane use flow chart

A cyclist may leave a bicycle lane for any of the purposes listed in the law. Bicycle lanes are typically designed for through travel. To make a right turn where a right turn lane is provided to the right of a bicycle lane, a cyclist should leave the bicycle lane, since continuing in the bike lane to the intersection and making a sharp right turn could surprise a motorist in the right turn lane.

Where no bicycle lane is marked, a cyclist going through an intersection should not ride in a lane marked exclusively for turns, i.e., one marked or signed with the word “ONLY.”

Roads with curbs: the gutter is not part of the “roadway,” i.e. not “ordinarily used for vehicular travel” [§316.003].  Cyclists need to keep clear of the gutter area; pavement joints, drain grants or debris can cause steering difficulties or damage.  On lower-speed curbed streets, parallel parking of vehicles adjacent to the curb is commonly allowed.

A cyclist riding past a parallel-parked car generally needs to maintain clearance of 5 feet to avoid risk of collision with, or being startled by, an opening driver-side door.  Doors on some vehicles swing open more than 3 feet.

Road with flush shoulders: where no bicycle lane is marked, a white edge line is typically marked to indicate the edge of the roadway; any pavement to the right of the edge line is shoulder pavement, not a bicycle lane unless it is marked with the bicycle lane symbol.

Since the definition of “roadway” excludes shoulders, cyclists are not required to ride on paved shoulders that are not marked as bicycle lanes, although they may prefer to do so. A cyclist who rides on a paved shoulder typically needs to main 2 feet of clearance from the pavement edge. The cyclist should still travel on the right because (1) this reduces crash risk at intersections and driveways (drivers don’t expect traffic on shoulders to approach from the “wrong” direction) and (2) whenever the cyclist enters the roadway (e.g., to pass a pedestrian or other bicyclist, cross an intersection, avoid debris or obstructions, etc.), right-side operation becomes mandatory.

Outside traffic lanes: As the minimum clearance for passing a bicyclist is 3 feet [§316.083, 316.085] and the total width of larger motor vehicles (with extending mirrors) is commonly 8 feet or more, an outside traffic lane less than 14 feet wide is typically not wide enough to accommodate a cyclist and passing motor traffic within the lane. The Florida Department of Transportation’s Manual of Uniform Minimum Standards for Streets and Highways (chapter 9, advises: “Wide outside lanes are through lanes which provide a minimum of 14 feet in width. This width allows most motor vehicles to pass cyclists within the travel lane, which is not possible on more typical 10-ft to 12-ft wide lanes.”  Lanes wide enough to share tend to get restriped as a bike lane and a travel lane over time.  Most travel lanes are NOT wide enough to share.  In some cases, an R4-11 “Bikes May Use Full Lane” sign may be installed to clearly indicate when a lane is too narrow to share.

Operation on limited access highways [§316.091(4)] No person shall operate a bicycle or other human-powered vehicle on the roadway or along the shoulder of a limited access highway, including bridges, unless official signs and a designated, marked bicycle lane are present at the entrance of the section of highway indicating that such use is permitted pursuant to a pilot program of the Department of Transportation.

Comment: A limited access facility is “a street or highway especially designed for through traffic and over, from, or to which owners or occupants of abutting land or other persons have no right or easement, or only a limited right or easement, of access” [§316.003(36)].

Riding two abreast [§316.2065(6)(a)] Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway or in a bicycle lane may not ride more than two abreast except on a bicycle path. Persons riding two abreast may not impede traffic when traveling at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing and must ride within a single lane. Where bicycle lanes exist, persons riding bicycles may ride two abreast if both are able to remain within the bicycle lane. If the bicycle lane is too narrow to allow two persons riding bicycles to ride two abreast, the persons must ride single-file and within the bicycle lane. On roads that contain a substandard-width lane as defined in subparagraph (5)(a)3., persons riding bicycles may temporarily ride two abreast only to avoid hazards in the roadway or to overtake another person riding a bicycle.

Comment: In a lane “too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side” (see “Position on roadway” above), passing cyclists “at a safe distance” requires use of the next lane (see “Overtaking and passing a vehicle” above). In this case, cyclists riding two abreast cause no additional impediment to traffic. However, the last sentence of this recently-modified law eliminated the right to ride two-abreast on the majority of roads.

Groups at Stop Signs [§316.2065(6)(b)] When stopping at a stop sign, persons riding bicycles in groups, after coming to a full stop and obeying all traffic laws, may proceed through the stop sign in a group of 10 or fewer at a time. Motor vehicle operators must allow one such group to travel through the intersection before moving forward.

Methods of turning left at intersections [§316.151(2)] Left turn: A bicyclist intending to make a left turn is entitled to the full use of the lane from which the turn may legally be made. The person must a. Whenever practicable, make the left turn in that portion of the intersection to the left of the center of the intersection; or b. Approach the turn as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway; after proceeding across the intersecting roadway, make the turn as close as practicable to the curb or edge of the roadway on the far side of the intersection; and, before proceeding, comply with any official traffic control device or police officer regulating traffic on the highway along which the person intends to proceed. Right turn: See “Method of turning right at intersections” under “Laws for all drivers.”

Signaling a turn or stop [§316.155(2)(3); §316.157(1)] A signal of intention to turn must be given during the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning. If a cyclist needs both hands for control, the signal need not be given continuously. No person may stop or suddenly decrease speed without first giving an appropriate signal to the driver of any vehicle immediately to the rear, when there is an opportunity to give such signal. A bicyclist signals intent to: turn left by extending the left hand and arm horizontally; turn right either by extending the left hand and arm upward or by extending the right hand and arm horizontally to the right side of the bicycle; stop or suddenly to reduce speed by extending the left hand and arm downward.

Laws for sidewalk riders: operating as a pedestrian [§316.2065(09)] A person propelling a vehicle by human power on a sidewalk or crosswalk has the rights and duties of a pedestrian.

Comment: A bicyclist riding on a sidewalk has the rights of a pedestrian, and so may ride in either direction. (However, it is safer to ride in the direction of traffic, since drivers do not expect bicyclists to come from the other direction at driveways and crosswalks.) Equipment and passenger regulations still apply since the cyclist is still a “bicycle rider.”  Sidewalks are not designed for bicycle speeds, but bicycles are permitted where not prohibited by local ordinance (use is prohibited downtown in some cities).

[§ 316.2065(10)]  A bicyclist riding on a sidewalk or crosswalk shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing.

[§ 316.130]  At a signalized intersection, a bicyclist approaching on a sidewalk must obey the instructions of any applicable pedestrian control signal.

Comment: That is, he may start to cross a roadway in a crosswalk only during a steady Walk phase, if one is displayed. If no pedestrian signal is provided, the cyclist may proceed in accordance with the signal indications for the parallel roadway traffic flow.


Electric Bicycle Regulations [§316.20655]

(1) Except as otherwise provided in this section, an electric bicycle or an operator of an electric bicycle shall be afforded all the rights and privileges, and be subject to all of the duties, of a bicycle or the operator of a bicycle, including §316.2065. An electric bicycle is a vehicle to the same extent as a bicycle. However, this section may not be construed to prevent a local government, through the exercise of its powers under §316.008, from adopting an ordinance governing the operation of electric bicycles on streets, highways, sidewalks, and sidewalk areas under the local government’s jurisdiction; to prevent a municipality, county, or agency of the state having jurisdiction over a bicycle path, multiuse path, or trail network from restricting or prohibiting the operation of an electric bicycle on a bicycle path, multiuse path, or trail network; or to prevent a municipality, county, or agency of the state having jurisdiction over a beach as defined in §161.54(3) or a dune as defined in §161.54(4) from restricting or prohibiting the operation of an electric bicycle on such beach or dune.

(2) An electric bicycle or an operator of an electric bicycle is not subject to the provisions of law relating to financial responsibility, driver or motor vehicle licenses, vehicle registration, title certificates, off-highway motorcycles, or off-highway vehicles.

(3) Beginning January 1, 2021, manufacturers and distributors of electric bicycles shall apply a label that is permanently affixed in a prominent location to each electric bicycle. The label must contain the classification number, top assisted speed, and motor wattage of the electric bicycle.

(4) A person may not tamper with or modify an electric bicycle so as to change the motor-powered speed capability or engagement of an electric bicycle, unless the label indicating the classification number required in subsection (3) is replaced after such modification.

(5) An electric bicycle must comply with the equipment and manufacturing requirements for bicycles adopted by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission under 16 C.F.R. part 1512.

(6) An electric bicycle must operate in a manner so that the electric motor is disengaged or ceases to function when the rider stops pedaling or when the brakes are applied.

(7) An operator may ride an electric bicycle where bicycles are allowed, including, but not limited to, streets, highways, roadways, shoulders, bicycle lanes, and bicycle or multiuse paths.

Micromobility Devices and Motorized Scooters

A micromobility device is “Any motorized transportation device made available for private use by reservation through an online application, website, or software for point-to-point trips and which is not capable of traveling at a speed greater than 20 miles per hour on level ground.  This term includes motorized scooters and bicycles.” [§316.003(40)].

A motorized scooter is “Any vehicle or micromobility device that is powered by a motor with or without a seat or saddle for the use of the rider, which is designed to travel on not more than three wheels, and which is not capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed greater than 20 miles per hour on level ground” [§316.003(48)].


The operator of a motorized scooter or micromobility device has all of the rights and duties applicable to the rider of a bicycle under s. 316.2065, except duties imposed by s. 316.2065(2), (3)(b) and (3)(c), which by their nature do not apply.  Local governments may prohibit the operation of micromobility devices and motorized scooters on roads under their jurisdiction [§316.2128(1)].

A motorized scooter or micromobility device is not required to satisfy the registration and insurance requirements of s. 320.02 or or licensing requirements of 316.605. [§316.2128(2)].

A person is not required to have a driver license to operate a motorized scooter or micromobility device [§316.2128(3)].

A person who offers motorized scooters or micromobility devices for hire is responsible for securing all such devices located in any area of the state where an active tropical storm or hurricane warning has been issued by the National Weather Service [§316.2128(4)].