Can Pedestrians Use Bicycle Lanes?

Question

Keith asked:  I almost had a head on collision with a runner in the bike lane the other morning, it was 5.45 am totally dark and he or she was invisible.  I emailed the Mayor as to the city’s position on runners running in the road in the bike lane even though it is signposted everywhere as BIKE LANE ONLY and there are sidewalks available. His response was surprising and disappointing and I wondered if anyone out there might know if he was legally wrong?? He said:

“By state law, bike lanes are actually designated for Non Vehicular use, walking, running, bikes, roller blades etc.  So yes, they do have the right to be there, and generally bikers are to yield to pedestrian traffic.”

Answer

The Mayor is wrong.  To begin, let’s distinguish between a “bike lane” and a “bike path”.

A bicycle path is defined in the statutes.

s. 316.003 – Definitions

(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 and is located either within the highway right-of-way or within an independent right-of-way.

Indeed, a motor vehicle cannot be driven on a bicycle path.

s. 316.1995 – Driving upon Sidewalk or Bicycle Path

No person shall drive any vehicle other than by human power upon a bicycle path, sidewalk, or sidewalk area, except upon a permanent or duly authorized temporary driveway ….

Although there is no statutory definition of “bicycle lane”, it is defined in many other places as part of the roadway.

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials

Bicycle Lane or Bike Lane – A portion of the roadway which has been designated by striping, signing and pavement markings for the preferential or exclusive use of bicyclists.

Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (Adopted by the Florida Department of Transportation)

Bicycle Lane – A portion of the roadway that has been designated for the preferential or exclusive use by bicyclists by pavement markings and, if used, signs.

Florida Department of Transportation Plans Preparation Manual

Bicycle Lane – A bicycle lane (bike lane) is a portion of the roadway (either with curb and gutter or a flush shoulder) which has been designated by striping, special pavement markings, and signing for the preferential use by bicyclists.

Florida Department of Transportation Manual of Uniform Minimum Standards for Design, Construction and Maintenance for Streets and Highways.

Bicycle Lane (Bike Lane) – A portion of the roadway (typically 4-5 ft) which has been designated by signing and pavement markings for the preferential or exclusive use by bicyclists.

Roadways are for the use of vehicles.

s. 316.003 – Definitions

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

A bicycle is a vehicle.

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

Bicyclists have the same rights and duties as drivers of other vehicles.

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 ….

Sidewalks are for pedestrians.

(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.

Walkers and runners are pedestrians.

(28) Pedestrian – Any person afoot.

Pedestrians must use sidewalks when available, or must use the shoulder.

s. 316.130 – Pedestrians; Traffic Regulations

(3) Where sidewalks are provided, no pedestrian shall, unless required by other circumstances, walk along and upon the portion of a roadway paved for vehicular travel.

(4) Where sidewalks are not provided, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall, when practicable, walk only on the shoulder on the left side of the roadway ….

Pedestrians may not leave a place of safety and walk into the path of a vehicle.

(8) No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle ….

Bicyclists may use the sidewalk, but must yield to pedestrians

s. 316.2065 – Bicycle Regulations

(10) A person propelling a vehicle by human power upon and along a sidewalk …. has all the right and duties applicable to a pedestrian ….

(11) …. shall yield the right of way to any pedestrian ….

Another related section of the Bicycle Regulations prohibits the use of roller skates on the roadway.

(12) No person upon roller skates, or riding in or by means of any coaster, toy vehicle, or similar device, may go  upon any roadway except while crossing a street on a crosswalk ….

Posted in Ask Geo, Bike Lanes Tagged with: , ,
12 comments on “Can Pedestrians Use Bicycle Lanes?
  1. danc says:

    Dear Geo,

    What do you think of the Mayor’s office reply, maybe a second opinion from law enforcement? Sound like someone is confusing bike lane with share use path (aka bike path, “actually designated for Non Vehicular use … generally bikers are to yield to pedestrian traffic.”)

    Only positive thing is, if the cyclist was traveling with traffic, then the runner was facing traffic, which is appropriate if there is no usable sidewalk or shoulder.

  2. Geo says:

    Good point Dan. I didn’t think of the possibility that the reference may be confused with bike paths, which are defined in the statutes. I’ll add that to the post.
    Thanks

  3. Michael Young says:

    I had a run in with a pedestrian who was walking toward me in a bike lane. This particular part of the island of Oahu in Hawaii called Lanikai has no sidewalk. It is clearly posted by multiple signs as a designated Bike route. I stayed to the inside and so did he. He yelled at me that he had the right of way for pedestrians always do. I told him not in a bike lane they don’t. The local police dept. agreed with me and he stated that pedestrians in that circumstance must walk on the undeveloped portion that is between the bike lane and the houses. This all is referred to as the cities easement whether developed or not. I owned a piece of property in rural California that had the fence right to the edge of the road. Yet my neighbors across the street had a sidewalk in front of their property. Upon building new homes within city limits that have roads and curbing. The builder must improve the property if the home is new construction. Thus the explanation why some had sidewalks in frt. of their house or not. With sidewalks the pedestrian always has the right of way.

  4. tony says:

    This really gets my goat. Here in Fort Lauderdale beach there is a sidwalk for the pedestrians and a “Bike Lane” for cyclists. If joggers, walkers, skaters, choose to use the bike lane they should jog/walk/skate against traffic while cyclists ride with traffic. When they see a cyclist coming both parties should stay to the right (or even better get out of the bike path when you see a cyclist. Come on morons, it is easier for you to see the traffic coming towards you unlike me on my bicycle. I have to turn around and look behind me. This also goes for those cyclists who are going the wrong way. STAY TO THE RIGHT OR GET OUT OF THE BIKE PATH. And for those idiots that jog/walk/skate with traffic thats just plain STUPID…..

    I happen to enjoy both walking/jogging and cycling along the beach. I walk on the sidewalk and ride in the bike path. Just think people…..

    • oger says:

      I ride on A1A almost every morning in Fort Lauderdale. Runners and walkers should not use the bike lant at all, but if they dom they should run in the direction of traffic. If the run into traffic, the cyclist is forced into the automobile traffic lane. but the real problem of course is the parking crs who open their dorrs without looking, or use the bike lane as a changing room. I have found a shout of ‘Door” helps a bit.

  5. JL says:

    I live In Ponte Vedra Beach, FL and I am still confused about this law. IF there is a sidewalk provided and IF there is a designated bike lane, is it against the law for a runner to use the bike lane? I read where a runner has to use the sidewalk where one is provided and read another that says runners can use bike lanes since they are disignated for non-vehicular traffic but haven’t seen one where they combine the two…..any lawyers out there that knows the answer here? Thanks.

  6. Geo says:

    Bicycle lanes are not for non-vehicular travel, nor are they for pedestrians. They are for the exclusive use by bicycles. They are part of the roadway, which is intended for use by vehicles. Bicycles are vehicles.

    You are correct that pedestrians are required to use the sidewalk when present rather than the roadway. Bicyclists may also use the sidewalk, even if there is a bicycle lane.

    See: http://flbikelaw.org/2009/07/bicycles-on-sidewalks/

    And: http://flbikelaw.org/2010/02/can-pedestrians-use-bicycle-lanes/

    You can also click on the tag cloud on the front page at http://flbikelaw.org for more information about sidewalks and bike lanes.

  7. harm says:

    I jog around lanikai loop with my daughter in her jogging stroller. I jog against traffic because cars ride the line, and I want to see if a car is coming at me so I can get out of the way. Bicyclists, when we are coming up to each other, will generally take the outside, even though I am already to the right, giving them ample room. I’ve been hit by a cyclist, which means that the cyclist was riding in the wrong direction, and he hit me from behind. In an area where there are no sidewalks and a ton of pedestrian traffic, as well as generally slow moving traffic, in the case of lanikai, bicyclists should ride on the road.

  8. Geo says:

    A marked bicycle lane is part of the roadway, and is not for the use of pedestrians. They should use the shoulder as described above. An unmarked paved shoulder is not a bike lane, and both bicyclists and pedestrians may use it. A bicyclist must travel in the same direction as other traffic in the roadway and should do so on a paved shoulder, but it is not required by law.

  9. Rafael says:

    Sidewalks are generally made out of concrete and it negatively impacts the runner joints . Be kind and share the road.

  10. Gordon Garrison says:

    I was running on A1A against the traffic in the bicycle lane because the sidewalk was very crowded. I never use the bike lane, otherwise. A biker was coming toward me so I courteously took my run to the gutter between the bike lane and sidewalk. The biker, in a threatening manner, came at me as though he was going to intentionally hit me. I am also a biker…but I don’t have “biker anger” I see so often displayed. Try to live calmly people!!! Play nice!!!This is a recreational town and often crowded. Make room for everyone!!!

  11. Geo says:

    Gordon,

    We hear the same complaints about cyclists riding on the sidewalk and not respecting pedestrians’ safety.

    It is easy to understand the cyclist’s ire when you were clearly violating the law and possibly causing the cyclist to at least partially leave the bike lane to pass you. You may have felt there was plenty of room for you both in the bike lane, but the cyclist apparently disagreed.

    The laws are intended to impose order in a crowded society. If we violate those we choose, there will be no order.

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