Share the road: 7 ways unsafe cycling can cost you

Did you know that cyclists can get tickets from the police?

Just like drivers of motor vehicles, cyclists are required to follow traffic rules on public roads and sidewalks. According to the Florida state statutes, police officers can assess a fine of $15 for cycling offenses.

And there’s definitely a good reason for police to monitor cyclists. A 2017 report by the Governors Highway Safety Association revealed that 818 cyclists died in accidents across the country in 2015, an increase of 12 percent over the previous year. Notably, Florida is also the deadliest state for cyclists.

That’s why the laws are in place, in hopes of protecting cyclists and others on the road. Just like drivers going faster than the speed limit, you might think you’ll never have an accident … until you do.

The rules are there keep you, as well as others on the road or sidewalk, safe. Here are seven unsafe cycling practices than can cost you.

1. Obey all traffic rules, signs and signals

According to the statistics, intersections are the most likely place for bicycle accidents resulting in death to occur. Although you can’t control other drivers, you can be extra vigilant as a cyclist to ensure your own safety. Look both ways before crossing, come to a complete stop when required, and signal before turning left or right.

2. Don’t carry other passengers on a one-person bike

The vast majority of bikes are built for one, and that’s how you need to ride. Unless you’re on a tandem bike, the law says you can’t carry other passengers, no matter how they are positioned. The only exception is carrying very small children (under four years of age, or who weigh 40 pounds or less) securely on your back in a baby carrier.

3. When riding after dark, you need to have a bike lamp

When you ride between sunset and sunrise, you’re required by law to have a white light attached to the front of your bike. It’s also got to be quite bright, shining forward for a distance of at least 500 feet. You’re also required to have a reflector on the back.

4. Make sure your brakes work

The law says that your brakes need to be able to easily stop you “within 25 feet from a speed of 10 miles per hour on dry, level, clean pavement.” Although it’s unlikely a police officer will take the time to test them, you can technically get a fine if you don’t have working brakes. More importantly, it’s very dangerous.

5. Use bicycles lanes, or stay to the right when unavailable

If a bicycle lane is available, you should be riding in it. On roads without such lanes, you need to stay to the farthest right possible, allowing faster vehicles to pass easily. On one way roads, you should stay to the far left.

6. Pedestrians have the right of way

People who are walking or jogging always have the right of way. When approaching or passing from behind, you should make yourself known through an audible signal.

7. Anyone under 16 MUST wear a helmet

Although all cyclists – regardless of age – should always wear a helmet, the law only requires minors under the age of 16 to do so. If you’re a parent, you are required to ensure your children comply.