Thursday, February 5, 2009

Why You Should Know Bike Laws

I was recently reading the comments on Commuter Orlando concerning the topic of Urban Bike Myths when I came upon a post from fred_dot_u which linked to a video of him being pulled over by a FDOT officer for "impeding traffic". Give it a watch and enjoy a good laugh.

Fred writes: "This is two minutes leading up to being stopped by a law enforcement officer for operating my bicycle in the traffic lane. During the stop, we discussed the finer points of the FL statutes that allow for a bicycle to occupy the lane when the lane is of sub-standard width. He brought out his big book of FL Statutes and I helped him find the applicable entry. It's in black and white in the big book, so he changed his reference point.

He called his supervisor and asked if traveling 17 mph (headwind) on a 45 mph was considered impeding traffic. He did not reference the vehicles being impeded. Note in the video that there were NO vehicles impeded.

He also found the appropriate statute for impeding traffic. First he confirmed that a bicycle is a vehicle under FL law and I agreed. He then read to me the statute: 316.183

(5) No person shall drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law.

The interesting part of this particular statute is that it specifically excludes bicycles by using the term "motor vehicle".

We had a mostly cordial discussion and he told me to drive safely and I departed. There was a lot of interaction involving his lack of understanding of the laws regarding safe passing of bicycles: 316.083"

Like Fred I have also been pulled over by officers that don't quite have a full grasp of bicycle laws. In each case I was able to pull out my handy-dandy little book of Florida Bike Laws from the Florida Bike Association. And to the credit of each officer I have dealt with, they have been very open and willing to go over the statues with me. I'm happy to say that because I've taken the time to read over this great little book and get familiar Florida's bike laws, I have never been ticketed. And that I also left each situation with the feeling that I helped give that officer a better understanding of bicycles as a legitimate form of transportation while hopefully making life a little easier for next cyclist that officer encounters.

Having a copy of the of Florida Bike Laws with you on your bike is as important as a spare tube or patch kit. Your not going to need either very often. But you'll sure be glad you have it when you do need it.

If you would like to get your own copy just click on the picture of the bike law book in the right hand column and email for a book or download it in a PDF.


Steve-O said...

great post. thanks.

cyclenewbie said...

At first, I thought the video was a joke, perhaps the police officer was a friend of the cyclist until I read what happened afterwards. Its quite different here in the UK.
Very interesting post.

Bike Jax said...

Thanks, Steve-O

CycleNewbie, thanks for the comment. How does this scenario differ from the UK?

Anonymous said...

I love the fact that the officer is actually breaking the law by changing lanes in an intersection to get behind the biker....