While teaching a recent Alternative Transportation course for the Florida Safety Council, one student looked at my treadless bike tires and commented that I could be cited for “bald tires.” I explained that tread is not nearly as important for a bicycle tire as for a motor vehicle tire. You probably can’t hydroplane a bike tire (unless the roadway is really greasy, but then tread won’t do you any good anyway).
But it got me thinking, “What do the statutes say?”
316.610 Safety of vehicle; inspection.–It is a violation of this chapter for any person to drive or move, or for the owner or his or her duly authorized representative to cause or knowingly permit to be driven or moved, on any highway any vehicle or combination of vehicles which is in such unsafe condition as to endanger any person or property, or which does not contain those parts or is not at all times equipped with such lamps and other equipment in proper condition and adjustment as required in this chapter, or which is equipped in any manner in violation of this chapter, or for any person to do any act forbidden or fail to perform any act required under this chapter.
(1) Any police officer may at any time, upon reasonable cause to believe that a vehicle is unsafe or not equipped as required by law, or that its equipment is not in proper adjustment or repair, require the driver of the vehicle to stop and submit the vehicle to an inspection and such test with reference thereto as may be appropriate.
(2) In the event the vehicle is found to be in unsafe condition or any required part or equipment is not present or is not in proper repair and adjustment, and the continued operation would probably present an unduly hazardous operating condition, the officer may require the vehicle to be immediately repaired or removed from use. However, if continuous operation would not present unduly hazardous operating conditions, that is, in the case of equipment defects such as tailpipes, mufflers, windshield wipers, marginally worn tires, the officer shall give written notice to require proper repair and adjustment of same within 48 hours, excluding Sunday.
As you can see, the statute applies to all vehicles, not just motor vehicles. So if an officer decides your treadless bicycle tires are unsafe, he could have your bike impounded. Or if he felt they were merely problematic he could require you get them replaced within 48 hours.
Ain’t the law just gloriously crazy sometimes?