Are “Blinkie” Bike Lights Legal?
Most Florida cyclists realize that when riding between sunset and sunrise, the law requires cyclists to have a red rear light and white front light visible from a certain distance. What kind of light should the cyclist use?
Probably the most common rear light is called the “blinkie” light. It is a flashing red rear light. Blinkie lights are inexpensive and the batteries seem to last a long, long time. Most Florida bike shops sell “blinkie” rear lights for safety and to help cyclists follow this law. Many cyclists feel that “blinkie” lights catch the approaching motorists’ attention better than steady lights. But are flashing lights legal?
It would appear so when reviewing Florida’s bicycle regulations alone. Florida has passed its Bicycle Regulations found at 316.2065, Florida Statutes. The Florida Bicycle Regulations specifiy the duty to have lights, as set forth in section 316.2065(8). That law says nothing about whether the rear and front lights must be steady or flashing. Many argue section 316.2065(8) is the only law that applies to cyclists because it is a special law just for Florida cyclists. These persons argue that flashing “blinkie” lights are legal both front and back, because the applicable bike regulation, 316.2065(8) doesn’t preclude them.
On the other hand, Florida also has section 316.2397(7). It is not specifically a bicycle regulation. It related to vehicles, and is part of a series of laws that discuss equipment needed on vehicles. It basically says flashing lights are prohibited on vehicles except to indicate a right turn, left turn, lane change, vehicle stopped, or disabled vehicle. Does “vehicle” as used in this law mean to include bicycles? If this law AND 316.2065(8) both apply, then “blinkie” lights could be illegal when the cyclists is simply riding down the road, and not turning, changing lanes, stopped or fixing a flat tire.
It seems the better analysis would be to allow “blinkie” lights for bikes. But I am not a judge and don’t get to make a ruling. As always, please do not rely on the above as a legal opinion. The laws may change. Legal precedent may develop which answers this question one way or the other. For now, it appears to be unclear and ambiguous. Something for you to consider.