Fun With Florida Statutes

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?

6 replies
  1. fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u says:

    I suppose in the case of tires we are lucky that law enforcement officers have more important aspects of the law to address when it comes to bicycles.

    Alternatively, since one can purchase tires in new condition without tread at all, one can argue that having tires in such condition is not a danger to anyone. Oh, shucks, I used the word argue. That never works, does it?

    “other equipment in proper condition and adjustment as required in this chapter” might be motor-vehicle specific.

    Has anyone heard of a cyclist or person on a bike being stopped for unsafe, worn tires? There’s been a post in another forum about officers stopping a rider for having only one brake, but the officer was told it wasn’t illegal and wanted to find something to cite the rider. Portland, OR, I think.

  2. Mighk
    Mighk says:

    I queried my 2003/04 crash database:

    Out of 885 crashes, 3 were coded as “Worn Tires” for the bicyclist. But all those were on “Clear” days. Only one involved motorist fault; drive-out at an intersection. Tire condition would of course only be relevant if the pavement were wet.

  3. Julius
    Julius says:

    I wonder if they think that bikes without traditional brakes can be deemed “unsafe condition as to endanger any person or property.”

  4. Brian in So Cal
    Brian in So Cal says:

    A bald motor vehicle tire is one that formerly had tread and has worn sufficiently so that the tread is gone. Thus the danger may not be lack of tread but lack of rubber. That is not the case for bald bicycle tires right off the shelf.

  5. Mighk
    Mighk says:

    Julius wondered “if they think that bikes without traditional brakes can be deemed “unsafe condition as to endanger any person or property.””

    Officers are expected to use judgment. If one has a fixed gear bike and has the skills to stop the bicycle as effectively as the law requires (within 25 feet at 10 mph), then the spirit of the law is upheld. If the fixie rider crashes due to the inability to stop in time, then a citation of “no brakes” or “defective brakes” might be warranted.

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