Jeff asked: A ribbon of pavement exists to the right of the white stripe of the right-hand-most through traffic lane. It appears to have been designed and constructed to the specifications of a bicycle lane. However, there are no lane markings or signage indicating that it is a bicycle lane. What is it?
I forgot to mention that the right hand edge of this ribbon of pavement is bounded by a curb. Now, what is it? How is any layman supposed to know?
Prior to the update of the Florida Department of Transportation planning and design guidance, their definition of bicycle lanes included four parts:
Designated bike lanes on 1. Curb and gutter roadways, and 2. Flush shoulder roadways.
Undesignated bike lanes on 3. Curb and gutter roadways, and 4. Flush shoulder roadways.
What you describe is what was number 3, an undesignated bike lane on a curb and gutter roadway.
In January 2009, the new Plans Preparation Manual changed the definition of a bike lane to:
Bicycle Lane: A bicycle lane (bike lane) is a portion of a roadway (either with curb and gutter or a flush shoulder) which has been designated by striping and special pavement markings for the preferential use by bicyclists.
In the 2007 Florida Greenbook, the definition is similar to the new PPM definition. It may have been changed since then, but that’s the version I have.
You may recall that the Department defines “roadway” as including the paved shoulder, but the statutes exclude the paved shoulder.
For the purpose of the laws, the ribbon you describe is simply part of the roadway since a curb is present, and if required to keep right under the circumstances, cyclists would be required to remain there, as close as is practicable to the rightmost curb or edge of the roadway. If the “ribbon” is four -five feet wide, there is probably room to safely share the roadway. Of course there are many exceptions to the “keep right” rule. The solid white line represents a lane and is too narrow for motor vehicles, so they shouldn’t be there most of the time, but there is no special treatment such as a marked and signed bike lane.
The old markings will be around for a while. They are meaningless and counterproductive, since many believe they are bike lanes. In some cases, such markings are less than the required width for a bike lane, but some still think they are bike lanes. One road near where I live has such a ribbon about two feet wide.
The Department’s new guidelines are a big improvement.
A layman can find out these things by asking Geo at this site.