Riding bicycles is an activity that families can enjoy together and is a favorite way for people visiting Sarasota to get around and explore. But while riding a bike is the same everywhere, bike rules and laws differ depending on where you live. If you are visiting Sarasota and will be renting a bicycle, knowing the local laws and guidelines helps make your biking experience even more enjoyable.

Be sure to read about our favorite places to bike with kids and some of our recommended bike routes when exploring Sarasota.

renting a bicycle in Sarasota

General Rules and Safety Tips When Renting a Bicycle

Helmet Use: While not mandated by state law for adults, wearing a helmet is highly recommended to protect yourself from head injuries in case of accidents. Children under 16 years old are required by law to wear helmets when cycling.

Traffic Signals and Signs: Bicycles are considered vehicles in Florida and must obey the same traffic laws as motorists. This includes stopping at red lights and stop signs, yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks, and using hand signals for turning.

Riding on the Right: Cyclists should ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, except when overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle going in the same direction, preparing for a left turn, avoiding hazards, or when the lane is too narrow to share with a motor vehicle.

Sidewalk Riding: While generally allowed in Sarasota unless specifically prohibited by local ordinances, cyclists using sidewalks should yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and give an audible signal before passing.

Lights and Reflectors: If riding between sunset and sunrise, bicycles must be equipped with a white light on the front visible from at least 500 feet away and a red reflector on the rear visible from at least 600 feet away. A rear red light can substitute for the reflector.

Avoid Distracted Riding: Just like driving, avoid distractions such as using your phone or wearing headphones that impair your ability to hear traffic and surrounding sounds.

Bike Lanes and Shared Use Paths: Use designated bike lanes when available. When riding on a shared-use path, yield to pedestrians and announce your presence when passing.

Specific Sarasota Bike Rules and Regulations

Sidewalk Riding Restrictions: While generally allowed, some sidewalks in Sarasota may have specific restrictions for cyclists. Pay attention to signs indicating where cycling is prohibited.

Helmets for Children: Children under 16 years old are required by law to wear helmets while riding bicycles, skateboards, roller skates, and similar devices on public roads, paths, or any right-of-way. When renting a bicycle, be sure to ask for a helmet.

DUI Laws: In Florida, it is illegal to operate a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the extent that your normal faculties are impaired. This can result in similar penalties to those for driving under the influence (DUI) of a motor vehicle.

Registration and Licensing: Bicycles do not need to be registered or licensed in Sarasota, and renting a bicycle is easy.

Passing Distance: When passing another vehicle, including bicycles, motorists are required to maintain a safe distance of at least three feet.

Prohibited Actions: It is illegal to cling to vehicles while riding a bicycle, carry more passengers than the bicycle is designed for, or carry any package, bundle, or other article that prevents the rider from keeping at least one hand upon the handlebars.

Whether exercising or exploring the city, responsible cycling enhances both personal safety and community well-being. Always stay informed and aware of your surroundings to make the most of your biking experience in Sarasota.

Rent the Right Bikes for Your Vacation

At Ride and Paddle, we offer many types of bicycles depending on what you need for your vacation. We have bikes appropriate for both the road and the beach; we also offer e-bikes for those who want to explore a little further (and faster). We have bicycles for children and kiddie carts to pull them behind your bike.

If you are spending a vacation on Siesta Key or anywhere in Sarasota, call Ride and Paddle to reserve your rental bicycles—you’ll be glad you did!