The Cop Column
June, 2004
Sgt. Rick Hord
Public Information Officer

Can I Get a Speeding Ticket on my Bicycle?
...and other Bike FAQ's

Whether riding for fun, exercise, or transportation, bicyclists are governed by most of the traffic laws that apply to motor vehicles. Here are some of the most common Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) about bicycles:

Q-Can I get a speeding ticket on my bike?

A-Most speeders are pushing an accelerator pedal instead of a bicycle pedal... but the speed limit applies to every vehicle on the road, so it is possible.

Q-How about a DUI?

A-Florida's DUI law applies to any vehicle, with or without a motor. One driver who lost his license for drunk driving a few years ago later got arrested DUI on his bicycle, on his way to the Courthouse Annex in Shalimar for... you guessed it... DUI court.

Q-How many bicyclists get tickets?

A-The average in Okaloosa County is about four or five per month. The number has been increasing in recent years.

Q-What are the most common violations by bicyclists?

A-Here are my nominations, in no particular order: Running red lights and stop signs; failing to wear a helmet; driving on the wrong side of the road; improper carrying of passengers; careless driving; and riding at night without lights.

Q-Does everyone have to wear a helmet while riding a bike?

A-The law requires an approved helmet for anyone on a bicycle age 15 or younger. Follow the example set by serious cyclists, though: most of them always wear their helmet, even if they're over 16.

Q-What is the "wrong side of the road" for a bicycle?

A-Same as for a car. Years ago, many bicyclists learned to ride facing traffic. Don't do that!

Q-May I ride on the sidewalk?

A-Yes, but you must yield to pedestrians, and you're required to "give an audible signal before overtaking and passing" any pedestrian.

Q-What constitutes improper carrying of passengers?

A-Most passengers you see are being improperly carried. An adult may carry a small child "securely attached to his or her person in a backpack or sling." For kids 3 years or younger and no more than 40 pounds, a seat or carrier designed for the purpose is also acceptable. Otherwise, anybody on a bike must be on a "permanent and regular seat." Commercially-available bicycle trailers are legal, but do-it-yourself ones aren't. Also not legal: bicyclists, skaters, skateboarders, etc., hanging on to cars or bicycles in motion.

Q-What lights are required?

A-Between sunset and sunrise the minimum is a white light on the front visible for at least 500 feet, plus both a red light and red reflector (a light or reflector alone isn't good enough) visible for at least 600 feet.

Q-I'm 14 and don't have a driver license. Why shouldn't I just throw my ticket away?

A-Because some day you'll want to get a license. That's when you'll find out you've already got one, and it's suspended. If you don't pay a ticket within 30 days, the State of Florida will suspended your license, even if they have to issue you one in the computer for the purpose.