Driving in Parking Lanes

Question

Empty parking lane on Corrine Drive in Orlando

Empty parking lane on Corrine Drive in Orlando

KC Asked: It seems clear to me that cyclists are not required to ride in an empty parking lane, but how is that defined in terms of as far right as practicable?

Answer

If the lane is not marked as a parking space, it would be part of the roadway and the normal rules about the roadway apply.

There is no statute that says, “Vehicle operators shall not drive in a marked parking space”.  However, the statutes do discuss traffic control devices.

The traffic control devices that have been adopted for use by the Department of Transportation are those of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).  A parking space marking is a traffic control device.

MUTCD

Section 3B.19 – Parking Space Markings

Marking of parking space boundaries encourages more orderly and efficient use of parking spaces where turnover is substantial.  Parking space markings tend to prevent encroachment into fire hydrant zones, bus stops, loading zones, approaches to intersections, curb ramps, and clearance spaces for islands and other zones where parking is restricted.

Drivers are required to obey any traffic control device.

FS 316.074 – Obedience to and Required Traffic Control Devices

(1) The driver of any vehicle shall obey the instructions of any official traffic control device ….

In some cases, the statutes are specific about the required actions, such as that directing the use of a marked lane for its designated purpose.  This statute directs drivers to use lanes designated for a particular direction, a right-turn only lane for example.

FS 316.089 – Driving on Roadways Laned for Traffic

(3) Official traffic control devices may be erected directing specified traffic to use a designated lane or designating lanes to be used by traffic moving in a particular direction ….

Another statute tells drivers of slower vehicles where they are required to drive.

FS 316.081 – Driving on Right Side of Roadway; Exceptions

(2) Upon all roadways, any vehicle proceeding at less than the normal speed of traffic …. shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.

A fact that a lane is marked for parking indicates its purpose and that it is not a “lane then available for traffic”.

Although the parking lane might be part of the roadway, we are still required to obey all traffic control devices.  We are prohibited from using a right-turn-only lane for through traffic.  Similarly, we are prohibited from using a parking lane as a lane then available for traffic.

We would not expect a motor vehicle operator to drive in a parking lane.  There should be no expectation that any other driver, such as a bicyclist with all the rights and duties of other drivers, would do so.

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4 comments on “Driving in Parking Lanes
  1. David says:

    It would be interesting to see what would happen if instead of riding in the parking spots lining all fifteen miles of Hendricks/ San Jose in Jacksonville I rode to the left of the white lines marking these spots. Countless cars, trucks, law enforcement vehicles have passed me without incident for more than seven thousand miles of my using this route.

    Does this mean that I am fair game for a citation or am I missing something? I reckon, not only the many other cyclists on their weekly club rides, but also I have been breaking the law for years. What’s up with that? Do you suggest we just keep on breaking the law or should we take to the streets?

    Also, riding across the Main Street Bridge, another exercise in common courtesy by all when pedestrian v. bike or bike v. bike meet head on. Is the sidewalk on each side of the bridge technically a bike/ pedestrian path? There are signs reminding cyclists to yield to pedestrians, so I guess it’s preferable for cyclists to use it as opposed to the roadway. I used to actually use the roadway but because the expansion seams in the road were so wide and tall and the people in the cars behind me were, at times pretty hostile, I took to the sidewalk to cross this bridge.

    What’s a guy to do?

  2. Geo says:

    As always, we don’t give legal advice on this site. We try to inform about the laws and their actual wording. In this case, as in many others, the statutes do not give us all the answers as to what the best cycling practices might be. Roadway design and construction does not always provide all the answers either. Cyclists must consider the statutes and the circumstances to determine the best course of action under the many situations we encounter. We hope to provide the information so cyclists will be able to understand the statutes and incorporate that understanding in their decision process.

  3. Geo says:

    Sorry David, but I missed the second part of your comment before.
    It may be that someone is trying to encourage cyclists to use the sidewalk, but it is not required. Sidewalks are not bicycle paths or bicycle facilities. They are intended for pedestrians. In most cases, bicyclists may use them, and as you indicated, some may prefer to do so. The following post gives the details about cyclists on sidewalks.

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

  4. Nicolas says:

    This is really specific and just what I’ve been looking for.

    I must admit I find it a tad funny since recently I was taking the lane headed south on Orange Ave in Orlando (I was in the far right lane) and a car passed me on the right by driving in the empty parking spaces.

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