Lawbreaker No More!

Last week, I was dismayed to learn that in all the time I’ve been riding a bicycle on the mean streets of Tampa, I’ve been breaking the law over 3/4 of the time…

Me? A lawbreaker? That’s right. Apparently, there is an obscure law contained in Article III, Sec. 25-186 of the City of Tampa Code of Ordinances.

The section reads:

Sec. 25-186. Same–Warning signals.
No person shall operate a bicycle unless it is equipped with a bell or other device capable of giving a signal audible for a distance of at least one hundred (100) feet, except that a bicycle shall not be equipped with nor shall any person use upon a bicycle any siren or whistle.
(Ord. No. 89-258, § 2(57-218), 10-5-89)

Only two of my bikes are equipped with functioning bells, so whenever I’m riding my “regular” commuter bikes, I am in flagrant violation of the law. The even stranger thing is this is an arrestable offense…not a traffic ticket but a trip to the city lockup!

This came to light last week when The Tampa Tribune published an article describing the law and the legal challenge against it.


Good news, though, as the Tampa City Council repealed the law this evening.

Word to the wise — sometimes it is not enough to be familiar only with your state’s vehicle laws. There may be municipal or township codes and ordinances that apply to your situation, too.

About the author

Bicycle commuter since 1989, bicycle enthusiast for 30+ years. I am a Bookmobile/Books By Mail librarian at a large library system and the proud father of two wonderful boys.