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Federal and Florida State Policies Put Bikes on More Equal Footing

Today cyclists are a familiar sight on Florida's streets, but it has only been in the last generation or so that cycling among adults has really taken off.

2010-08-13
August 13, 2010 (Press-News.org) Today cyclists are a familiar sight on Florida's streets, but it has only been in the last generation or so (since the 1970s) that cycling among adults has really taken off. Before that, cycling was generally regarded as a children's pursuit. While many Florida roads have had bike lanes added to them, in many cases it's not a perfect fit, and on other roads adding bike lanes has proved difficult due to traffic patterns, natural and man-made obstacles, and expense.

In March of 2010, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a major policy change, saying that it was now U.S. Department of Transportation policy to "incorporate safe and convenient walking and bicycling facilities into transportation projects." The new policy also calls for state and local governments to consider "walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes."

What this federal effort will mean for future road projects is still unclear, but it adds weight to Florida's existing policy to incorporate bike paths into roadway projects unless there is a "compelling reason" not to (such as cost or inability to acquire additional right-of-way on the side of the road). One group, the Boca Raton Bicycle Club, has twice sued Florida's Department of Transportation, asking them to provide reasons why this policy was not followed on recently constructed roads.

One small change to Florida's bicycle laws will take effect soon. The new law, part of HB971 and taking effect September 1, requires bicyclists who are not traveling at the speed of other vehicular traffic to use bike lanes, if available. The law already requires bicyclists to travel in the rightmost lane unless moving at the same speed as other vehicular traffic, so the rule would appear to make little change. Nevertheless the bill was opposed by bicycle advocacy groups, who felt that it would lead to misunderstandings of the rights of cyclists to legitimately ride in other lanes (such as when preparing to turn left).

Although bike lanes provide a safer way for bikes and cars to share the road, they also come with dangers--that of bicyclists being "doored," or struck by suddenly-opened doors from cars parked adjacent to the bike lane. Many bicyclists nationwide have been killed in these accidents.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a bike accident, talk to an experienced personal injury attorney who can advise you of your legal rights.

Article provided by Law Offices of Corey Leifer, P.A.
Visit us at www.leiferlaw.com


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[Press-News.org] Federal and Florida State Policies Put Bikes on More Equal Footing
Today cyclists are a familiar sight on Florida's streets, but it has only been in the last generation or so that cycling among adults has really taken off.