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?
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.
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.
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: