In 1997, Florida passed a law requiring children under 16 to wear helmets when bicycling. The state gave counties the option of opting out of the law and three did so, but those three have since returned to the requirement.
Florida has ruled that bicycles are vehicles and must share the road with motor vehicles. This means cyclists must ride with traffic and have the same rights and responsibilities that automobiles have.
Florida has adopted the three-foot rule, which requires cars to give bicycles three feet of clearance when passing. If there is not enough room for a bicycle and a car in a lane of traffic, the cyclist can occupy the entire lane.
Many cycling clubs object to the requirement of helmets. They believe that helmets should be encouraged but not required and that helmets give a false sense of security. Further, many cycling organizations say requiring helmets discourages people from taking up cycling.
Cyclists may be banned from sidewalks, but in many areas they are allowed, especially for younger children. When riding on a sidewalk, a bicyclist must follow the same rules as a pedestrian.
Health officials say head injuries account for about a third of all bike-related injuries that require hospital visits. Helmets have been shown to reduce severity of injuries. Helmets must meet standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Article Written By James Jordan
James Jordan has been a writer and photographer since 1980. He has worked for newspapers in Arkansas, Tennessee, South Carolina and Kansas, winning state press association awards for writing, photography and page design. In 1995 he received his master's in Christian education and completed two years of Ancient Greek at the graduate level. Jordan holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism.