Florida Walks and Bikes
4114 Bay Shore Road Sarasota, FL 34234 941-544-7788
Taking Florida from Worst to First
March 20, 2012
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. Another did not go far. The fifth group, legislation which might unintentionally harm bicycle/pedestrian transportation, did not result in any evident harm.
1) Fix of Mandatory Bike Lane Law, Install Bike Lights instead of Paying Fine, Flashing Lights, CFR Standards for Helmets, Mobility-Impaired Pedestrians, Golf Carts, Swamp Buggies, 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 several issues, such as 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. Much of this legislation was passed in 2011, as part of S1150, a bill which actually passed both houses of the Legislature. Unfortunately for S1150, late in the session, the House added amendments related to cameras at red lights and the Senate ran out of time before it could deal with the amendments. Therefore, Florida Walks and Bikes is pleased to see the language pass this year and expresses its sincere appreciation to Senators Bogdanoff and Bullard for their diligent long-term effort.
Senate Bill 390, sponsored by Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, passed the Florida Senate in early February. Senate Bill 334, sponsored by Sen. Bullard, passed the Senate in early March. The language of their bills was incorporated into House Bill 1223 and Senate Bill 1122. H1223, sponsored by the House Economic Affairs Committee and Rep. Ben Albritton, R-Bartow, passed the House in late February. S1122, sponsored by the Transportation Committee and Sen. Latvala, R-St. Petersburg, arrived on the Senate Floor in early March. On March 9, the Senate substituted H1223 for S1122 and unanimously confirmed it. Assuming no veto by the Governor, the passage of H1223 changes Florida law, effective January 1, 2013, in the following ways:
1) Modifies Florida’s mandatory bike lane law, F.S. 316.2065(5), 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 amendment to F.S. 316.2065(8) 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 F.S. 316.2397.
4) As an amendment to F.S. 316.2065(3), 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) Amending F.S. 316.1303, it 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.
6) Allows golf carts, operated by municipal employees only, to use and cross many roadways. These golf carts will be allowed to use sidewalks adjacent to state highways if sidewalks are at least 5’ wide and if the golf carts yield to pedestrians. This legislation is not good for pedestrians as it allows vehicles to encroach upon the sidewalk. However, the hopeful aspect of it is that use of the sidewalk for golf carts may be limited only to municipal governments.
7) Allows “swamp buggies” to use local roads if the local governments specifically allow them and to cross state roads where those local roads cross state highways, upon FDOT approval. Although not directly a bicycle/pedestrian issue, it is mentioned here, for future reference, as an example of Florida’s tendency to allow new types of vehicles to use the roads.
Senator Bogdanoff’s S390 also included language which repealed the rarely enforced Florida Statute 316.2065(7) which required a cyclist to keep at least one hand on the handlebars at all times. This language was not included in S1122 or H1223 but it was included in House Bill 7043, sponsored by the House Economic Affairs Committee and Rep. Kenneth Roberson, R- Port Charlotte, which passed the House in late February. On March 8, H7043 was substituted for Senate Bill 2086 (which did not mention bicycle handlebars) and confirmed by the Senate, 38-1. Thus, the repeal was passed and becomes effective July 1, 2012. Assuming no veto by the Governor, H7043 changes Florida law as follows:
8) 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.
2) Bicycles on Limited Access Facilities, plus Pedestrian Related measure
Senate Bill 1866, sponsored by the Budget and Transportation Committees, and Sen. Jack Latvala, R-St. Petersburg, proposed a 2 year pilot program in which the Florida Department of Transportation would allow three bridges on limited access highways to carry bicycle traffic. Its House companion was House Bill 1399, sponsored by Rep. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg. After the pilot program was over, the bills required FDOT to make a report to the Legislature and Governor. 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.
Although S1866/H1399 did not pass, the same language was picked up in H599, sponsored by Rep. Ray Pilon, R-Sarasota, which passed the Senate at 11:02 p.m. of its last official day, with an amendment and sent to the House, which confirmed it at 11:48 p.m. As H599 contained the FDOT Department Bill, with 111 sections and 5237 lines of legislation, it was treated with special importance.
Last year, the LAF measure was supported by the Florida Bicycle Association and Bicycle/Pedestrian Advocates. As S1180, it passed both Houses but became ensnarled in late session maneuvers and did not pass in 2011. In 2012, this measure was pushed by the Florida Bicycle Association and they deserve great credit for its passage in 2012.
H599 also contained a pedestrian related item. It changed f.s. 316.2068 from allowing cities/counties to “prohibit” Electric Personal Assistive Mobility Devices (Segways) to allowing them to “regulate” them. It also added one more place where they could not be regulated. “Sidewalks” were added to streets, roads, and bicycle paths where such regulation could occur.
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 the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee, Commerce and Tourism Committee, Transportation Committee, and Sen. Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville. H181 was sponsored by the Appropriations Committee and Rep. Irving Slosberg, D-Boca Raton. 85% of the funds raised would go to state trails programs. 15% would go to the Florida Traffic and Bicycle Safety Education Program and the Florida Safe Paths to Schools program.
S268 passed the Senate on February 29. On March 7, the language of S268 was substituted for H181 and the measure passed the House. Assuming no veto by the Governor, it will become law on July 1, 2012.
4) Enhanced Penalties for Injuring/Killing Another Person in Traffic
S1754, sponsored by Sen. Greg Evers, Crestview, called for increased penalties for committing a moving violation which results in the injuring or killing of a pedestrian, bicyclist, motorcyclist, or motorist, or passengers, in traffic. The penalty for injuring another person would include a $500 fine, 30 days incarceration, and revocation of the driver’s license for 30 days. The penalty for killing another person would include a $1,000 fine, 90 days incarceration, and driver’s license revocation for 1 year. These penalties would be assessed on top of other penalties for other infractions involved in a crash. This legislation has been proposed for many years, at least since 2009, by the motorcycle group ABATE, the American Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments.
Unfortunately, S1754 did not find a companion bill in the House nor did it progress far in the Florida Senate, having passed only one of three preliminary Committees.
In 2010 and 2011, late session measures infringed or attempted to infringe upon bicycle and pedestrian transportation. In 2010, H971 included the passage of a law requiring cyclists to use the bike lane except for only a limited number of exceptions, thus requiring cyclists to be unsafe if they were to observe the law. Also in 2010, a measure was passed to allow widespread access of golf carts, scooters, and other motorized vehicles to sidewalks, thus depriving the pedestrian of his last refuge. In 2011, late session maneuvers included a redefinition of the bicycle to allow gas-powered helper engines. This would have allowed gas-powered vehicles on bike lanes and trails. With these experiences in mind, Florida Walks and Bikes has examined the records of the 2012 Legislature. As of March 20, 2012, no evidence has been found of any legislation that would infringe upon bicycle or pedestrian transportation. However, in a climate where such measures can be intentionally hidden, Florida Walks and Bikes cannot guarantee that no such measures do not exist. The Florida Legislature passes millions of words each year and it is difficult to analyze all of them.
Neither H1223, H7043, S268, or H599 is expected to 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.”