Is it Safer to Ride Your Bike on The Sidewalk or in The Bike Lane in FL?

Riding bikes on sidewalks vs. bike lanes have long been debated, specifically, which is safer? According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), the safest place to ride your bike is on the street, preferably in a bike lane, where bicyclists must also follow the same road rules as other motorists.

However, it’s also legal to ride your bike on Florida sidewalks, but you need to follow a few simple rules:

  • Bicyclists riding in crosswalks or on sidewalks must always give pedestrians the right-of-way and give a clear signal before passing them.
  • When riding in crosswalks and on sidewalks, bicyclists have the same duties and rights as pedestrians.

It is likewise vital to note that the local governments of towns, cities, municipalities, and counties could adopt their own ordinances to regulate bike riding. Some towns might also have additional licensing and registration requirements. In addition, riding on sidewalks might be banned entirely or just in specific areas, like business districts, for instance. 

Why Riding Your Bike in The Bike Lane is Safer

Bicyclists riding on sidewalks are a common cause of motorist-bicyclist accidents and create needless conflicts with and stress for pedestrians. There are various reasons why bicyclists should stay in the bike lane or the street instead of on the sidewalk, including unpredictable pedestrian movements, restricted design speed, limited visibility, and obstructions, such as uneven concrete and cracks.

On the other hand, there might be appropriate times when riding on the sidewalk might be safer. For example, when crossing a dangerous high-speed road or when the rider’s biking ability or skill level isn’t suited for the street, as is the case for a lot of smaller kids.

That being said, among the most common bike accidents involve bicyclists riding on sidewalks and getting injured by motor vehicles that were exiting a parking lot or driveway. In such cases, the motorist was negligent because the driver didn’t look at the sidewalk before backing up. Likewise, if the driver does look because the sidewalk is in front, it’s only to their left to check if there’s space for them to make a right turn, but not to the right where the sidewalk is.

Put simply, even though the law requires motorists to observe their surroundings and give the right-of-way to pedestrians and bicyclists on sidewalks, intersections, or crosswalks, the problem is that they usually don’t and are just focused on the road ahead.

Consult with a Clearwater Bicycle Accident Attorney Today

Have you been injured in a bike accident due to someone else’s negligent acts? Whether the accident happened in the bike lane, sidewalk, somewhere else on the road, reach out to Tragos, Sartes & Tragos for legal guidance.

Our experienced Clearwater bicycle accident attorney can discuss your case and walk you through the legal options that might apply to your case, so you can recover the losses you incurred due to the accident. Call 727-441-9030 or contact us online to set up your free consultation today.