Bicycles Must Use Sidewalk?

Question

Michael asked:  Today my wife and I were riding on a county road that accesses a beach. A county deputy ordered us onto the sidewalk. Later he stopped and spoke to us and said we are required to use a sidewalk or bicycle path if one is available. I find no reference to this in state law. Is this fact?

Answer

See also the related posts this date “Walk Bicycles Across Bridge?”, and the July 7, 2009 post at this site.

First some definitions:

s 316.003 – Definitions

(2) Bicycle – Every vehicle propelled solely by human power ….

(42) Roadway – That portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the berm or shoulder ….

(47) Sidewalk – That portion of a street between the curbline, or the lateral line, of a roadway and the adjacent property lines, intended for use by pedestrians.

(63) Bicycle Path – Any road, path, or way that is open to bicycle travel, which road, path, or way is physically separated from motorized vehicular traffic by an open space or by a barrier ….

(75) Vehicle – Every device, in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway ….

The basic tenet of cyclists (and operators of other human powered vehicles) use of the roadways is their treatment as operators of vehicles.  Bicycles are vehicles.  There are some restrictions, none of which apply in this case.

s. 316.2065 – Bicycle Regulations

(1) Every person propelling a vehicle by human power has all of the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle.

Roadways are for the use of all vehicles, unless restrictions are imposed by statute or local ordinance.

Sidewalks are intended for the use of pedestrians.

There is no state statute requiring a cyclist to be off the roadway and to use a paved shoulder, a paved sidewalk or a bicycle path.

There is no state statute prohibiting their use by bicyclists.  In some circumstances, a cyclist may choose to use them.  Some believe cyclists should not use the roadways due to their own safety.  That shows a lack of understanding safe cycling practices by experienced and educated cyclists and the statistics about cycling crashes, deaths and injuries.  There are hazards associated with the use of sidewalks and side-paths that cyclists should understand, but that is not the purpose of this site.

There are many examples of local ordinances that prohibit bicyclists from using sidewalks.  That is permitted by the provisions in the Florida Statutes that give local authorities the powers to regulate certain matters, among them, the regulation of the operation of bicycles.

s. 316.008 – Powers of Local Authorities

(1) The provisions of this chapter shall not be deemed to prevent local authorities, with respect to streets and highways under their jurisdiction and within the reasonable exercise of the police power, from:

(h) Regulating the operation of bicycles

Prohibiting the use of sidewalks by cyclists is allowed because there is no inherent right of cyclists or other vehicle operators to use the sidewalk.

I am not aware of any local ordinance requiring cyclists to use the sidewalk.  I believe that is due to the inherent right of a cyclist to use the roadways as driver of a vehicle.

Local ordinances are allowed, but may not conflict with state statutes.

s. 316.002 – Purpose

It is the legislative intent in the adoption of this chapter to make uniform traffic laws to apply throughout the state and its several counties and uniform traffic ordinances to apply in all municipalities …. It is unlawful for any local authority to pass or attempt to enforce any ordinance in conflict with the provisions of this chapter.

Any local ordinance that conflicts with s. 316.2065 (1) above would clearly not be legal.

Bicyclists are never required to use a sidewalk or bicycle path.

As always, I recommend that your club establish continuing communications with law enforcement and other officials in your area to discuss any possible conflicts   For successful examples of that, please see these posts:

http://flbikelaw.org/2009/10/lake-county-bicycle-summit/

http://flbikelaw.org/2010/01/riderightdrive-right-campaign/

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Posted in Ask Geo, Rights & Duties
9 comments on “Bicycles Must Use Sidewalk?
  1. Kenneth Hovance says:

    Is a49cc gas powered motorized bicycle considered a bicycle or a moped and where can i find it in the fl. statues.I was pulled over and taken to jail for driveng my motorized bicycle with a revoked DL.I was riding it on the side of the Rd.by th curb onf following all therules of traffic.I wasnt doing ANYTHING wrong for them to pull me over so i dont see any probable cause for them to do so.I may be wrong but from what i understand its perfectly leagle to ride these things on the side of the road as long as the person does in fact have a valid DL.So that just adds more weight to the probable cause issue because theres absolutely no reason at all for them to have pulled me over.Please Help?

    • TH says:

      Kenneth:

      A 49cc motor on a bicycle turns the bicycle into either a moped, motorcycle, or motor vehicle. Any of the three require a license to operate, as the bicycle is no longer a bicycle once the motor is installed. Here are the definitions in the FL statute to support this answer:

      316.003 Definitions.

      (2) BICYCLE.—Every vehicle propelled solely by human power, and every motorized bicycle propelled by a combination of human power and an electric helper motor capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed of not more than 20 miles per hour on level ground upon which any person may ride, having two tandem wheels, and including any device generally recognized as a bicycle though equipped with two front or two rear wheels. The term does not include such a vehicle with a seat height of no more than 25 inches from the ground when the seat is adjusted to its highest position or a scooter or similar device. No person under the age of 16 may operate or ride upon a motorized bicycle.

      (21) MOTOR VEHICLE.—Any self-propelled vehicle not operated upon rails or guideway, but not including any bicycle, motorized scooter, electric personal assistive mobility device, or moped.

      (22) MOTORCYCLE.—Any motor vehicle having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground, but excluding a tractor or a moped.

      (77) MOPED.—Any vehicle with pedals to permit propulsion by human power, having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels; with a motor rated not in excess of 2 brake horsepower and not capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed greater than 30 miles per hour on level ground; and with a power-drive system that functions directly or automatically without clutching or shifting gears by the operator after the drive system is engaged. If an internal combustion engine is used, the displacement may not exceed 50 cubic centimeters.

      A lot of people are curious about the motorized scooter and electric personal assistive mobility device so I will give those definitions, as well.

      (82) MOTORIZED SCOOTER.—Any vehicle not having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider, designed to travel on not more than three wheels, and not capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed greater than 30 miles per hour on level ground. [a GoPed)

      (83) ELECTRIC PERSONAL ASSISTIVE MOBILITY DEVICE.—Any self-balancing, two-nontandem-wheeled device, designed to transport only one person, with an electric propulsion system with average power of 750 watts (1 horsepower), the maximum speed of which, on a paved level surface when powered solely by such a propulsion system while being ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20 miles per hour. Electric personal assistive mobility devices are not vehicles as defined in this section. [a Segway]

  2. Frank S. says:

    TH,

    I am in conversation with a few people at the FL HSMV concerning this in particular…

    Currently, the procedural document at the HSMV states that you can NOT (legally) register a bicycle with a gas motor attached, even as a moped.

    I am waiting on a clear answer from them, in reference to bicycles with 49cc or smaller gas engines attached.. So far, one person has stated as long as it is not capable of greater than 20mph, it MAY fall under the same definition as a motorized bicycle that’s referenced in 316.003(2) and would not require a DL..

    As I get more information, I (and Geo) will post the specifics on motorized (gas) bicycles.

  3. robert colavito says:

    i have a bicycle with a 49cc gas motor on it do i need a driver linces to drive it in florida??? please get back to me a.s.a.p. thank you

  4. Geo says:

    Bicycles with gas-powered assist motors are not legal on the roads, and only vehicles under human power are allowed on the sidewalk. Bicycles with electric assist motors are legal on the roadways and do not require a drivers license. Please see the following post.

    http://flbikelaw.org/2011/06/motorized-bicycles-5/

  5. Frank says:

    The people at the DMV have not returned any of my emails or calls..

    There seems to be a discussion as to the legality of such issues…

    There have been a few cases in where someone with a gas motor on their bicycle where given tickets for unregistered, unlicensed, etc. and the case have been dismissed…

    When I asked (the DMV) what their “thoughts on the matter” was, I got NO responses.. So I made some more phone calls, and was told to call a supervisor, as to which I’ve left several voice mails over a 2 month period, with no response yet..
    (This was a couple of months ago)…

    I will TRY again, and let you know ANY updates I can get… In the meantime, I would suggest putting a (gas) motor on a bicycle, until the entire truth/facts are given to me by the DMV..

    According to what the DMV allows (Or really dis-allows) is the registration of a gas powered bicycle as anything, as they say, in order to register it, it would need the required “safety equipment” to be registered.. They even go so far as to say, it is NOT required, NOR can they be legally given a registration..
    Now to whatever THAT means, remains to be answered.

  6. Frank says:

    Meant to say, I would suggest NOT putting a gas motor on a bicycle…
    But you CAN if you ONLY use it on “private property” and NOT the road, sidewalk, etc.

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