Texting and Biking

As a father of young children, I am reminded daily that operating a bicycle is challenging. It takes some time before pedaling, balance, and steering are mastered. Once you've sorted out how to get around, it is time to take the training wheels off, and feel the sense of freedom that bipedal propulsion allows. Even as we move from novice, to intermediate, to expert, and even professional, riding a bicycle requires full concentration. In Florida, that level of concentration needs to be even higher, as our state consistently ranks very low in "bikeability". Car drivers in Florida have proven over and over again, that they generally do not share the road with bicycles very well.

This photo, of professional rider, Luca Paolini was taken during one of the recent legs of the 2014 Tour de France. The rider was traveling at nearly 40 miles an hour when this photo was taken. Apparently, Luca did not realize that he'd inadvertently left his phone in his pocket, and was turning it off.

Now, this photo was taken during the Tour de France, on roads closed to the public, with Tour professionals all around. I wonder what would happen if this was just a Florida man out for a ride on a busy road. Cyclists are required to obey all of the same traffic laws, signs and signals that apply to motorists. Florida has a recent ban on texting and driving. Could he have been given a ticket for this?

In Florida, it appears that the answer is no. While Florida Statutes Section 316.305, Florida's law against texting and driving specifically mentions the safety of bicyclists as a goal of this law, it does not ban anyone except for operators of motor vehicles from texting while driving. Even though it isn't illegal, it is not very smart. Leave the texting to after you've stopped your bike.

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