By Kevin Deutsch
A bike safety bill introduced by State Representative Christine Hunschofsky (D-Parkland) was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis Tuesday, granting new protections to bicyclists on Florida’s roadways.
Passed unanimously in the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate, the law also creates a mandate for state educational campaigns and adds bike safety questions to the driver’s license test question bank.
“By practicing road safety, we can lower the number of accidents in Florida…so that people can enjoy biking and walking outdoors safely,” stated Hunschofsky, who co-filed the bill with State Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation). “I am grateful that Governor DeSantis has signed this bill to make our roads safer for cyclists to enjoy our great outdoors.”
Once the law takes effect July 1, the driver of any automobile overtaking a bicycle, electric bicycle, or non-motorized vehicle occupying the same travel lane – or a bike lane – must pass the bicycle at a distance of at least 3 feet. If such a pass cannot be made safely, the driver must remain at a safe distance behind the bicycle until they have a 3-foot passing buffer.
The law also protects groups of bicyclists at stop signs: Drivers will be required to allow groups of 10 riders or less to ride through an intersection before proceeding.
Those who fail to obey the new law are subject to non-criminal moving violations.
Before the law’s passage, Florida state statutes mandated a 3-foot passing buffer but did not specify other legal instructions for drivers passing bicyclists.
Among the other changes mandated by the bill: The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles must launch an awareness campaign and provide educational materials, publicizing the new provisions. The state must also add bike safety questions to the bank of potential driver’s license test questions.
“At least 25 questions within the bank of test questions must address bicycle and pedestrian safety,” the bill states.
Passage of the bill comes as Coral Springs works to add bike lanes to the city amid a host of road upgrades.
“Broward County is one of the top-ranking counties in Florida for bike accident fatalities,” said Hunschofsky. “This is not a statistic we want to be a leader in, and I am pleased to have successfully passed this bill with Senator Book to make our roads safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.”
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- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.