Bicycles on the Shoulder


Tim asked:  It’s clear that if a cyclist is on the roadway they must operate as a vehicle and obey all traffic control devices.  However, if a cyclist is traveling outside of the roadway, on a paved shoulder, is the cyclist required to come to a stop at a stop sign or red light when making a right turn?


Good question, Tim.   At first, I thought it was simple, but not after getting into it.

First the two applicable statutes:

FS 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 …. before entering the intersection.

FS 316.075 – Traffic Control Signals

(c) Steady red indication

(1) Vehicular traffic facing a steady red signal shall stop …. before entering the intersection and shall remain standing until a green indication is shown; however:

a.  The driver of a vehicle which is stopped …. in obedience to a steady red signal may make a right turn, but shall yield right-of-way to pedestrians and other traffic ….

The statutes refer to a driver entering or approaching an intersection, and do not indicate whether the vehicle is on the shoulder or in the roadway.

Both statutes give details about where the driver must stop, but they are not applicable to this question.  Both say the driver must stop before entering the intersection.

We need to define “intersection”.  I will use wording of the statute that gives us the most liberal interpretation of the definition.  Some may not agree, but considering that our paramount concern is always safety, I am most comfortable with that approach.

FS 316.003 – Definitions

(17) Intersection

(a) …. the area within which vehicles traveling on different highways …. may come into conflict.

Now we need to define “highway”.

(53) – Street or Highway

(a) The entire width between the boundary lines of every way or place of whatever nature when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular traffic ….

To summarize, a bicyclist (driver of a vehicle) riding on the shoulder (entering or approaching an intersection) must stop at a stop sign or red light before entering the intersection.

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3 comments on “Bicycles on the Shoulder
  1. Ron Fisher says:

    I am unsure if you are interpreting the phrase “any part thereof” as including the paved shoulder.
    Doesn’t the lack of any separating punctuation in the (53(a)) definition of “Highway”
    define that all listed locations are confined to, and limited by the “between the boundary lines” definition?
    At one meeting you even said that the paved shoulder (that which is outside the boundary lines,) out to the edge of the right-of-way is considered (in just some, or all locations?) to be “sidewalk.”
    However, I do agree that cyclists riding on the shoulder need to obey all traffic control devices. It just makes good common sense.

  2. Geo says:

    The boundary line referred to here is not the curb or edge line of the roadway. It is the property line at the outside of the entire right-of-way. The “highway” includes everything within that area, including the roadway, the median, a paved or unpaved shoulder, a paved sidewalk, even a woods area, if any.

    You are correct that I said the sidewalk includes the paved shoulder. Since I made that statement, there is a considerable discussion and difference of opinion among some of us about the placement of the comma in the definition of “sidewalk”. I intentionally avoided using that in the answer since it doesn’t affect the question.

    FS 316.003 – Definitions
    (47) Sidewalk – That portion of a street between the curbline, or lateral line, of a roadway and the adjacent property lines, intended for use by pedestrians.

    I believe that means the entire area from the edge line to the property or boundary line.

    Others believe that means only some portion of that area, not including the paved shoulder.

    Other documentation, such as the MUTCD, does not use a comma and is more definitive. It refers to a specific paved or otherwise prepared surface for pedestrian use.

    Maybe someday we will get a legal opinion or other clarification. Any attorneys or English majors out there want to offer an opinion?

    For the purpose of this question though, we don’t need that clarification. The shoulder is part of the highway.

  3. Ron says:

    Thank you, George.

    A bit off topic, but, does that mean that the 3 foot rule applies to vehicles overtaking cyclists that are traveling on the shoulder, outside of the lane edge line?

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