Bicycles on Private Roads

Question

Christy asked:  We live in a townhouse-style condominium. The president of our association recently told us that our kids are not allowed to ride their bicycles and scooters in the courtyard. (Two of our kids are too small to ride on the street yet.) Today she informed us that NO ONE can ride bicycles or scooters on the STREETS, either. She says it’s private property and they can do that, and if we “let people ride” on the streets, we’ll lose our insurance coverage and have to have a huge assessment. I see on your page that a bicycle is defined legally as a vehicle, so it would seem that they can’t do this. What is your advice?

Answer

There are differences between roads on private property and public roadways.  One definition under Streets and Highways applies to private roads.  It refers to permission of the owner for vehicular travel.

s. 316.003- Definitions

(53) Street or Highway

(b) The entire width between the boundary lines of any privately owned way or place used for vehicular travel by the owner and those having express or implied permission from the owner, but not by other persons.

(33) Private Road or Driveway – Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (53)(b), any privately owned way or place used for vehicular travel by the owner and those having express or implied permission from the owner, but not by other persons

Owners of private property can control vehicular travel within the boundaries of that property.

Even if it is private property, a municipality may exercise jurisdiction over private roads under some circumstances.

s. 316.006 – Jurisdiction

Jurisdiction to control traffic is vested as follows:

(2) Municipalities

(a) Chartered municipalities shall have original jurisdiction over all streets and highways located within their boundaries ….

(b) A municipality mat exercise jurisdiction over any private road or roads …. located  within its boundaries if the municipality and party or parties owning or controlling such road or roads provide., by written agreement approved by the governing body of the municipality, for municipal traffic control jurisdiction over the road or roads encompassed by such agreement.

4. The board of directors of a homeowners’ association …. may …. elect to have state traffic laws enforced by local enforcement agencies on private roads that are controlled by the association.

If a homeowners association does cede traffic control jurisdiction to local enforcement agencies, they are electing to have state traffic laws enforced.  In that case, state laws permit bicyclists use of the roads, as they would any other roadway.

A condominium may have different rules, and they are controlled by directives that are beyond the scope of this website.  However, the same principles would seem to apply.

Scooters are prohibited from public roadways.

s. 316.2065 – Bicycle Regulations

(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, Misc Tagged with:
4 comments on “Bicycles on Private Roads
  1. Jayeson says:

    This opens the question of how to determine what applies to a given road. Can law enforcement even quickly determine when it has jurisdiction?

    Related, if a private road is subject to state traffic laws then does that also allow public access? Or to word another way, what laws govern when someone may travel on a private roadway? In the event a private road owner can selectively grant access, then is there a law that would prevent granting access to just motor vehicles?

    • Jayeson says:

      Since the answer to my question was relevant to my own selection of bike routes, I dug around some. Using the maps from the website of my county property appraiser I discovered that roads I believed to be private (behind gates or private road signs) belonged to private entities. For roads that were certainly public, the property appraiser had no records. As for what goes for a given private road I have no clue on how to figure that out but it doesn’t seem to affect any of the roads I am interested in anyway. That is, private roads I looked at in my county were either gated or didn’t go anywhere.

  2. Geo says:

    Interesting questions, but beyond the scope of this site. We limit our discussions to laws related to bicycling. You may want to address the question of how law enforcement officers know what is within their jurisdiction to your local agency. The other questions are related to land use, and you may want to ask your county or city attorney.

    • Frank says:

      Related Comment: (which will also answer Jayeson’s ques)

      With my electric bicycle, my HOA said to me, that they don’t allow me to ride it in the complex, because it’s a motorized bicycle (which the HOA laws prohibit)..

      I then asked a Sherriff that lives in the Community about it (Because FL law states an electric bicycle is just a reg bicycle and since it’s a reg bicycle (which the HOA allows) , then I should be able to use it whether they like it or not.)

      He explained to me that since it’s a private road, they can allow or disallow any type of vehicular traffic (re: motorcycles, pickups, etc) and that he can’t even give someone a ticket for going through the STOP signs located throughout the complex, because they aren’t “State Regulated” STOP signs.

      So as Geo said before it depends (I guess) on whether the HOA allows the State to Regulate their roads are not.

      I would say look in the HOA bylaws to see if there are any stipulations about bicycle travel on their roads. (Or any state involvement or non involvement)

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