Passing with Oncoming Bicycles

Question

Ron also asked:  And to further the rights of a shoulder-traveling cyclist, a vehicle in the oncoming lane of a two-lane road should not overtake another vehicle in the oncoming lane if there is bicycle traffic in the opposite direction if that cycling traffic is in the zone required to effect the pass. Even if the cyclist is on the shoulder, correct?

I have encountered such a situation on a State Road, and it gives one cause for serious concern!

Answer

The law prohibits passing if a vehicle (bicycle) in the roadway is approaching from the opposite direction in a two-lane roadway, and the overtaking driver cannot return to the original lane in a timely manner.

FS 316.082 – Passing Vehicles Proceeding in Opposite Directions

(2) Upon roadways having width for not more than one line of traffic in each direction, each driver shall give to the other at least one-half of the main-traveled portion of the roadway, as nearly as possible.

A bicycle on the paved shoulder is not in the main-traveled portion of the roadway.

FS 316.085 – Limitations on Overtaking, Passing, Changing Lanes and Changing Course

(1) No vehicle shall be driven to the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction unless …. such left side is clearly visible and free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit such overtaking and passing to be completely made without interfering with the operation of any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction of any vehicle overtaken.  …. in the event  the passing movement involves the use of a lane authorized for vehicles approaching in the opposite direction, before coming within 200 feet of any approaching vehicle.

The operative phrase is “use of the lane authorized for vehicles approaching from the opposite direction”.  The lane is part of the main-traveled portion of the roadway.  The shoulder is not.

Some might argue that the overtaking driver is “interfering with the operation of any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction”, but how far off the roadway would the bicyclist need to be to clearly not be “interfered with”?  How close to the centerline can a vehicle be when approaching another vehicle in the opposing lane?  There is no precise measured distance.

A driver may not overtake and pass another vehicle if a bicyclist is closely approaching from the opposite direction in the roadway, but may do so if the cyclist is not in the roadway.

Posted in Ask Geo, Overtaking & Passing Tagged with: ,

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