A 58-year old man was struck by a car while riding his bicycle on Kings Road in Jacksonville, Florida, recently. According to police, the cyclist attempted to turn left in front of the vehicle and was knocked off his bicycle upon impact. He was rushed to the hospital, but did not survive.
There have been a number of car accidents involving bicyclists lately in Jacksonville. A 17-year old was killed recently on Kernan Boulevard; another cyclist was a hit and run victim on Philips Highway and suffered critical injuries.
Many times, as drivers, it is easy to get frustrated when cyclists are sharing the road. However, in Florida, bicycles are considered vehicles and have the same rights to the roads as cars. As such, they must follow the same traffic laws that drivers are required to follow, such as stopping at red lights and stop signs. Cyclists must also ride with the traffic flow, use lights when riding at night, and ride as far to the right of the road as possible without incurring danger. Where provided, cyclists should use bike lanes. Cycling on interstate roads is against the law.
When planning to make a turn, cyclists must use a hand signal at least 100 feet in advance of the turn. If a cyclist intends to make a left turn, he or she may use the full lane from which the turn is made. The left turn can be made only after checking for oncoming cars, signaling, moving to the middle of the lane, and then proceeding only if it is safe to do so.
Likewise, there are laws drivers must follow when encountering cyclists on the road. For example, if a car and a bicycle are on a narrow lane, the cyclist has the right to use the entire lane. Common courtesy calls for the cyclist to ride on the right half so the car can safely pass the cyclist. The driver should allow at least two feet of space between the car and cyclist when passing; three feet is preferable.
Motorists should be mindful that cyclists are often sharing the road and sometimes, this is the person’s only means of transportation. Drivers should be aware of cyclists just as they would check for vehicles, especially when switching lanes, turning or passing an intersection. Taking the time to look for cyclists exiting and entering streets can save lives. Likewise, cyclists should be sure to yield the right of way when entering a roadway.
The bottom line is that cyclists and motorists must respect each other and obey traffic laws pertaining to sharing the road to avoid accidents involving cars and bikes. More information about motorists and cyclists sharing the road can be found on the Florida Department of Transportation’s website.