Walk Bicycle Across Bridge?

Question

Michael also asked: There is a drawbridge on this road with a narrow sidewalk on both sides. There is a sign as you approach the bridge stating, “Walk Bicycles Across Bridge” or something similar. I may not have the exact wording on this sign, but I always took it to mean not to ride on the narrow sidewalk. The officer today said it meant that we must not ride in the roadway across the bridge. The problem is that the sidewalk is too narrow to pass pedestrians who frequent use the sidewalk. Also we have recumbent trikes in the club, which would not fit on the sidewalk at all. Can the county restrict bicycle access like this?

Answer

In a word, no.

See also this related post:

http://flbikelaw.org/2010/01/bicycles-must-use-sidewalk/

In addition to the right to use the roadways described in the post above, there are requirements about the types of signs that may be used on roadways.  Just as the statutes require uniform traffic standards throughout the state, there are also regulations that require the use of certain traffic control devices.

s. 316.003 – Definitions

(23) Official Traffic Control Devices – All signs, signals, markings, and devices …. for the purpose of regulating, warning, or guiding traffic.

The Florida Department of Transportation is tasked with adopting such a system of uniform devices.

s. 316.0745 – Uniform Signals and Devices

Transportation shall adopt a uniform system of traffic control devices for use on the streets and highways of the state.

The uniform system that the Department has adopted is the national Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. (MUTCD).

MUTCD

Section 1A.08 – Authority for Placement of Traffic Control Devices

Traffic control devices …. shall be placed only as authorized by a public authority or the official having jurisdiction …. for the purpose of regulating, warning, or guiding traffic.

All regulatory traffic control devices shall be supported by laws, ordinances, or regulations.

Counties (among others) are given the authority to place and maintain traffic control devices in their jurisdictions, but that must conform to the uniform system.

s. 316.006 – Jurisdiction

Jurisdiction to control traffic is vested as follows:

(3) Counties shall have the original jurisdiction over all streets and highways located within their boundaries, except all state roads …. And may place and maintain such traffic control devices which conform to the manual and specifications of the Department of Transportation ….

Unless there is a local ordinance requiring cyclists to leave the roadway to cross a bridge, there is no justification for such a sign.  Such an ordinance would not be lawful as it would conflict with the right of a cyclist to use the roadway, the most basic right of any driver.

Additionally, there is no sign in the MUTCD that says “Walk Bicycles Across Bridge”, or anything similar.  There appears to be no authority for the use of the sign in question.

The Florida Department of Transportation can direct that unauthorized signs be removed.

s. 316.0745 Uniform Signals and Devices

(7) The Department of Transportation is authorized …. to direct the removal of any purported traffic control device wherever located which fails to meet the requirements of this section.

A better solution to meet the needs of all roadway users and comply with the statutes would be to use signs and roadway markings that remind everyone of their responsibilities.  Some possible signs that are in the MUTCD are:

  • Bicycles May Use Full Lane
  • Shared Lane Marking
  • Share the Road
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5 comments on “Walk Bicycle Across Bridge?
  1. Matt Kelley says:

    I’m not sure where this drawbridge is, but I know from experience that some older drawbridges are constructed with seriously large gaps in the roadway, so much so that motorcycles are warned of the danger (by signs and lights usually).

    Perhaps the sign on this bridge is an attempt to warn cyclists of the same danger. If so, then the sign needs changing, but when I read the question that’s the first thing that came to mind – my own experiences with a few dangerous bridges.

  2. Geo says:

    That could be, Matt. If the bridge is dangerous for vehicles, maybe someone should do something about it. Posting a sign that says “Dangerous Bridge-Use Caution” could be a start until they actually fix it. Telling cyclists to walk bicycles across the bridge isn’t supported in the laws. Discussing the laws is the purpose of this site. I suggest the people who are aware of these circumstances call the responsible agency and ask them to correct the problem.

  3. Alan says:

    Good information The Bridge of Lions in St Augustine was just completed and they also have signage up that states (Walk Bicycles Across Bridge)

  4. Frank says:

    Isn’t it true that a municipality can make up it’s own rules (and signs) for it’s own roads? (not talking about state or county roads that go through their jurisdiction). Even if it conflicts with “state statutes”?
    Saying that they are not allowed to put up signs like that “walk bike across bridge” sign (and have a town ordinance that has that “law” on their books) is like saying they can’t put up a sign that says speed limit 10mph, because it “might conflict” with a state statute that states all road MUST have a minimum of 25mph speed limit set.

  5. geo says:

    Municipalities can establish certain traffic rules as long as they do not conflict with state statutes. The signs they use must conform to the state-wide uniform system of traffic control devices as described above. A speed limit sign is an approved sign. The “Walk Bicycles Across Bridge” sign is not.

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