Bikes Are Vehicles Too

Bike versus car: it’s not really a fair competition. In the unfortunate event of a bicyclist-vehicle collision, the bicyclists will likely get the worst of it. They might suffer from:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Skin abrasions, or road rash
  • Facial trauma

Bike accident injuries range from mild, like bruising, to incredibly serious, such as damage to the lungs, spleen, or other internal organs. When a bicyclist isn’t wearing a helmet, the chance of a serious head injury is much higher. Even a minor accident can turn deadly.

Obviously, bicyclists have a lot to lose when it comes to collisions with vehicles. But does this mean they are always the victim?

Not exactly. While larger vehicles are often at fault for bicycle collisions, bicyclists can be negligent and reckless, too. When their own careless actions or disregard of traffic laws cause an accident, even if they are the one who is seriously harmed, they may still be at-fault.

Florida Law

This is because, for all intents and purposes, bikes are vehicles. Florida Statutes states that “every person propelling a vehicle by human power has all the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle.” On the plus side, this means that bikes are afforded certain rights, like the right to safely cross in a designated crosswalk, for example. However, this also means that they must follow all traffic rules, just like any other motorist. Bikes are not immune to the dangers of the roads, and they are not immune to traffic laws, either.

For example, if a bicyclist comes to a crosswalk, and the light is red, they still have to obey it. If they try to cross an intersection when a light is red, and are hit by an oncoming car, which has a green light, the bicyclist is likely at fault for their own injuries, because they did not follow traffic laws. If the driver is texting, drunk, or displaying otherwise reckless behavior, the bicyclists might have a case, but otherwise, the bicyclist will generally be liable in this kind of accident. When the driver is injured (for example, if they suffer whiplash when they slam on their breaks in an attempt to avoid hitting the bike), the bicyclists may be liable for their injuries, too. In some cases, both parties may be found at fault, though in varying degrees.

Laws For Bikes

There are other laws that bicyclists must obey, including:

  • Using a fixed, regular seat
  • Limiting the number of bike passengers to the maximum number for which the bike was designed
  • Keeping one hand on the handlebars at all times
  • Having a bike that is equipped with a brake that is capable of stopping within 25 feet
  • Riding as closely as possible to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway whenever possible
  • Staying within a single lane

Drivers should also be aware that bikes don’t always follow the rules. Drivers of larger vehicles should stay alert at all times, so that if a bicyclists exhibits reckless or erratic behavior, they can deal with the situation quickly and avoid a collision. Even though the driver might not always be at fault, and even though they might not sustain serious injuries from hitting a bike, they should still be courteous, alert, and defensive.

The roads are made for everyone — no matter what you drive, stay safe!


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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