Cycling Groups at Stop Signs and Red Lights
Linda Asked: My husband and son ride in a large group and wondered how the stop signs should apply when riding. Should cyclists as a group be treated the same as one vehicle? Or would they instead, one rider at a time, roll up to the stop sign, unclip, put their foot down, stop, and then proceed.
According to the Florida Bicycle Association, the Lead Rider is supposed to stop for the group. Then the group can proceed through the intersection.
“Lead riders should stop at all stop signs and red lights—always respecting the right-of-way of others.”
There is no provision in the statutes that allows a group of cyclists to act as a single entity. Each bicycle is a vehicle and each cyclist is responsible for compliance with the laws and must act accordingly.
I believe the quote above from the FBA Group Riding article is not implying that ONLY the lead rider must stop. Rather, it is saying that the lead rider must stop, thereby encouraging the rest in the group to stop.
s. 316.075 – Traffic Control Signal Devices
(c) Steady red indication
1. Vehicular traffic facing a steady red signal shall stop …. and shall remain standing until a green indication is shown.
(Right turns and left turns from a one-way street onto another one-way street are permitted after yielding to all other traffic.)
s. 316.123 – Vehicle Entering Stop or Yield Intersection
(2)(a) ….every driver of a vehicle approaching a stop intersection indicated by a stop sign shall stop …. After having stopped, the driver shall yield the right-of way (as required)
There is no stated requirement in the statutes to unclip and put one foot down. The purpose of the stop sign is to assure safety and designate respective right-of-way. With a little practice, a cyclist approaching a stop sign can stay on the pedals and come to a stop momentarily, then proceed if clear and otherwise safe. Some cyclists can remain stationary indefinitely while standing on the pedals in a track-stand. Simply coming to a stop, even if only for a second, would seem to meet the intent of the statute, if the cyclist otherwise yields as required.
Be cautioned that in some jurisdictions (Not in Florida that I know of), a case has been successfully made that the intent of the law cannot be met without the foot-down stop.
Stopping at a red light or a stop sign becomes much more complex when in a group. We need to consider not only traffic in the other lanes, but the cyclists around us. Extra caution is warranted.