Florida Walks and Bikes is a new organization which recognizes Florida’s abysmal safety record yet its great potential as a wonderful state for walking and biking.   Thus, Florida Walks and Bikes has adopted the goal of “Taking Florida from Worst to First.”  Below, please find the latest, most significant news, which may also found in our other blog categories.

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From our State:Legislative Category:

Bicycle/Pedestrian Legislation in the 2012 Florida Legislature

2012 was a very good year for bicycle/pedestrian legislation in Florida.  Three groups of significant legislation were passed.

1)  Fix of Mandatory Bike Lane Law, Install Bike Lights instead of Paying Fine, Flashing Lights, CFR Standards for Helmets, Mobility-Impaired Pedestrians, Repeal of One Hand on Handlebars

Florida Walks and Bikes, along with Bicycle/Pedestrian Advocates, has been working with Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale/West Palm Beach, and Sen. Larcenia Bullard, D-Miami, on three issues, fixing Florida’s mandatory bike lane requirement, allowing cyclists to install lights instead of paying a fine for not having them, and allowing cyclists to use flashing lights, since 2010.

These issues and other bike/ped concerns were addressed in House Bill 1223, sponsored by Rep. Ben Albritton, R-Bartow, and  its companion bill, Senate Bill 1122, sponsored by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-St. Petersburg.   H1223 passed the Florida Legislature on March 9.  Assuming no veto by the Governor, H1223 changes Florida statutes in the following ways, effective January 1, 2013:

1)             Modifies Florida’s mandatory bike lane law, passed in 2010 as part of the infamous H971.   H971 required bicyclists to stay in bike lanes, with just a few exceptions, even when staying in the bike lane was dangerous.   The new legislation allows the cyclist to leave the bike lane for any “potential conflict”.

2)             Allows cyclists, who are cited for not using lights at night, to install lights instead of paying an $82.50 fine.   This not only gives cyclists the same privilege as motorists cited for improper equipment but it is expected that it will encourage more cyclists to use lights at night.  As nighttime crashes have proportionally more fatalities, it is hoped that this legislation will reduce bicycle fatalities.

3)             Allows cyclists to use flashing lights on their bicycles.   Even though many bike lights flash, only non-flashing bike lights have previously been allowed by Florida law.

4)             Requires all bicycle helmets in use, after January 1, 2016, to be approved by the Code of Federal Regulations, rules promulgated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

5)             Requires vehicle drivers to come to a complete stop when a mobility-impaired pedestrian attempts to cross a crosswalk.   Mobility-impaired pedestrians are defined as those pedestrians using a crutch, cane, walker, wheelchair, or a service animal.  These pedestrians, if using a motorized wheelchair, will also gain the right to leave the sidewalk and use the roadway for any “potential conflict” if no alternative route exists.

A related bill, House Bill 7043, sponsored by Rep. Kenneth Roberson, R-Port Charlotte, passed the Legislature on March 8.   Assuming no veto by the Governor, that bill achieves the following:

6)             Removes the requirement that bicyclists keep at least one hand on the handlebars at all times.  The old requirement was deemed to have been an unnecessary statute due to its lack of enforcement.  This is slated to take effect July 1, 2012.

2)  Bicycles on Limited Access Facilities

House Bill 599, sponsored by Rep. Ray Pilon, R-Sarasota, included a 2 year pilot program in which the Florida Department of Transportation would allow three bridges on limited access highways to carry bicycle traffic.   FDOT is directed to select the bridges by October 1, 2012 and to begin allowing bicycles on them by March 1, 2013.  Thereafter, the bill requires FDOT to  make a report on the pilot program to the Legislature and Governor, due September 1, 2015.  Currently, Florida law does not allow bicycles to be used on limited access facilities such as interstate highways or turnpikes.  However, 20 state jurisdictions have allowed bicycles on limited access facilities with great success.

H599 passed, after 11 p.m., on the last official day of the Legislature.  Assuming no veto, it takes effect July 1, 2012.

3)  Trail Sponsorhip Rights

Senate Bill 268 and House Bill 181 proposed more revenue for Florida’s Trails program by allowing private entities to purchase sponsorship of trails.  S268 was sponsored by Sen. Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville and its companion bill, H181, was sponsored by Rep. Irving Slosberg, D-Boca Raton.  85% of the funds raised will go to state trails programs.  15% will go to the Florida Traffic and Bicycle Safety Education Program and the Florida Safe Paths to Schools program.

S268 passed the Legislature on March 7.  Assuming no veto by the Governor, it will become Florida law on July 1, 2012.

Neither H1223, H7043, H599, or S268 is expected to be vetoed by the Governor.

Florida Walks and Bikes is a new organization which recognizes Florida’s abysmal safety record yet its great potential as a wonderful state for walking and biking.   Thus, Florida Walks and Bikes has adopted the goal of “Taking Florida from Worst to First.”

 


10 comments
  1. Myra Bulis said:

    we could use some help in our community in Saint Augustine (Palencia) becoming a walkable community. A new school is targeted to be opened this fall and there is not enough sidewalk and/or space for the walkers, bikers, and golf carts to make it safely to the school. Otherwise, all the parents are going to want to drive their children to school in their POVs for the 2 miles or less to school. Thats about 400 vehicles or maybe, more.

  2. Great comment Myra!

    Not only for its content, but you are the first person ever to post a comment on the Florida Walks and Bikes blog. I didn’t even know that people could do this. You have made history.

    Regarding your specific issue, our first opinion is that it is sad that basic walking and biking are not designed and constructed as schools are built.

    As to where to go for help, there is an program that is supposed to address this very problem. It is called Safe Routes to Schools. Its focus is to provide safe means for children to get to school. It has millions of dollars in funding and it builds sidewalks to schools. That said, I am not sure if it is effective in your area. It has not been very effective in some areas. Its effectiveness probably depends upon a number of local factors.

    Most probably, your FDOT District bicycle/pedestrian coordinator administers this program locally. But, let me warn you ahead of time. Getting these funds, and initiating construction, will take work with the bureaucracy. And, the process can be slow and cumbersome.

    All that said, here is what I would do in your situation. Your goal is to get your local public officials to fix these sidewalks, using SRTS funds. This is not the only way to do it but it is a real good first step. So, call these people and figure out the next step.

    Carol Pulley, the new SRTS Advocate in Florida. Her number is 850-281-0001. Her email is: carol@saferoutespartnership.org

    Pat Pieratte, the FDOT Central SRTS Coordinator. Her number is 850-245-1529. Her email is: pat.pieratte@dot.state.fl.us

    Your local FDOT District bicycle/pedestrian coordinator.

    Good luck and let us know how you progress.

    Mike Lasche
    Florida Walks and Bikes

  3. Kevin said:

    Has there been any thought of allowing bicyclists to yield at stops signs in roadways, rather then having to come to a complete stop before proceeding. Considering the fact that many bicyclists already forgo stopping as is required, and the fact that requiring bicyclists to stop before proceeding through an intersection slows clearance of the intersection by bicyclists, I think it would be more convenient to other vehicle operators as well as to bicyclists. In support of this, I believe two other states already have laws allowing bicyclists to yield for traffic at stops signs, rather then having to stop.

  4. I wouldn’t say that there is active thought about this but the concept has been brought up before. I remember hearing John Forester, the father of the vehicular cycling movement, speak of his multiple arrests for treating stop signs as yield signs. Forester, who had researched the history of traffic signs and theory, dating back to the middle ages, felt that the true meaning of a stop sign was actually “yield.” Further, he felt that yielding, instead of stopping, made particular sense for a human powered vehicle. Acting on these ideas, his failure to stop at stop signs had led to multiple arrests.

    I don’t think that this idea would be an easy sell in Florida. As you observe, many cyclists don’t obey the current law anyway and this has led to a bad reputation for all cyclists. This type of effort would be seen as allowing cyclists to be even more reckless and law-disrespecting. And, it doesn’t seem to be an easy sell elsewhere either. As you mention, only two other states have adopted it.

    Regarding its effect on motorists, I think that motorists might object because they would not be able to forecast the behavior of cyclists in traffic, either on the other side of an intersection, or when cyclists were crossing in front of them.

  5. Thanks for this blog. Please let Velo Fest Community Initiative know how we can work together. Director@velofest.org is my email. We used this resource to help a news station in NE Florida work on there lack of understanding of this new legislation.

    Additionally, our organization did a bike to school program for the new elementary school mentioned above. Safe Routes to Schools is an under utilized resource (lack of funding and motivation) in our area so we supplemented it alongside the new principle there who is committed to a greener school experience. You can read about it here http://www.velofest.org/ahoy-me-mateys-palencia-pedaling-pirates/

  6. jason said:

    Cam somebody please either tell me when it became a law that you must have lights on the front and back of your bicycle and Florida. Or at least tell me where I can find out when this actually became a law

    • Dear Jason,

      More research could be done on this historical question, depending upon why you need to know. That said, it probably passed in the late 1970′s, when Florida rewrote its bicycle laws. At that time, the Florida Bicycle Council existed, appointed by Gov. Bob Graham, FDOT was just hiring Dan Burden as its new Bicycle Coordinator, and Florida was experiencing a bicycle renaissance. To find out when a statute was actually enacted, you first have to have the number of the statute. In this case, it is 316.2065(7), which reads:

      (7) Every bicycle in use between sunset and sunrise shall be equipped with a lamp on the front exhibiting a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and a lamp and reflector on the rear each exhibiting a red light visible from a distance of 600 feet to the rear. A bicycle or its rider may be equipped with lights or reflectors in addition to those required by this section. A law enforcement officer may issue a bicycle safety brochure and a verbal warning to a bicycle rider who violates this subsection or may issue a citation and assess a fine for a pedestrian violation as provided in s. 318.18. The court shall dismiss the charge against a bicycle rider for a first violation of this subsection upon proof of purchase and installation of the proper lighting equipment.

      To enquire about 316.2065(7), use the passage below:

      The Division of Law Revision and Information answers general questions about bills at (850) 488-4371 and general questions about the Florida Statutes at (850) 488-8403. They do not give legal advice. The email address is rev.info@leg.state.fl.us.

      Mike Lasche

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