Even More HB 971


Keri asked:  FDOT recently restriped several blocks of 2 one-way roadways in downtown. Both streets have three lanes and now have bike lanes on the right side. For most of my trips on these streets, my destination must be accessed from the left lane. In accordance with 316.2065(5)(b), I have always just used the left lane for the length of the road, so as not to have to merge across three lanes of traffic. Will HB 971 take away my right to do that?


See also:

http://flbikelaw.org/2010/06/hb-971-–-bicycles-and-bicycle-lane/ and


This situation was present before HB 971.  Now it will be more easily misunderstood, since bike lanes are specifically mentioned in the HB 971.

Actually, I believe the correct description should be “four-lane roadway, one of which is a bike lane.”

FDOT PPM Glossary of Terms

(21) Travel Lane: The designated widths of roadway pavement marked to carry through traffic and to separate it from opposing traffic or traffic occupying other traffic lanes. Generally, travel lanes equate to the basic number of lanes for a facility.

FS 316.003- Definitions

(18) Laned Highway – A highway the roadway of which is divided into two or more clearly marked lanes for vehicular traffic.

Subparagraph (b) of the Bicycle Regulations presently states that cyclists can use the left lane of such a roadway.   That is the case now even with the requirement to “keep right” in some circumstances.

FS 316.2065 – Bicycle Regulations (Will change on September 1, when HB 971 takes effect – See the link above)

(5)(a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway ….

(b) Any person operating a bicycle upon a one-way highway with two or more marked traffic lanes may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of such roadway as practicable.

Since the two subparagraphs, (a) and (b), are equally weighted in the statute, it would seem that the use of either to support safe cycling roadway positioning depending on your destination is appropriate.

Before HB 971, it was clear in the statutes that there was no requirement to comply with subparagraph (a), when on a one-way highway with one or more marked travel lanes, and not required to “keep right”.

There doesn’t seem to be any difference with HB 971.  Crossing three lanes of traffic to get to the bike lane, then crossing again at your destination would seem to be less safe and convenient.

11 Comments on “Even More HB 971

  1. Why not just ride in the bicycle lane, stop across the light, and when the other side turns green, you just go straight.
    On that one way street, you would have a MUCH safer time in the bicycle lane.
    Do you really want cars passing you on the right? Unless you’re doing at least 20mph on that road and that road being a speed limit of 25 you’re not that safe

  2. We all need to balance the need for our personal safety and the statutes.

    In this example, a cyclist might be departing a location on the left side of the roadway with the intention not to go straight through the intersection, but to turn left at the next intersection. Crossing three lanes to get to the bike lane, then crossing three lanes again would not seem to be a safer option.

    Educated and experienced bicyclists have no problem with being passed on the right when they are riding legally and understand that visibility and being traffic, rather than avoiding other traffic, helps them fare better. Motorists respect cyclists that show that they know what they are doing.

    All roadways are different, and present us with many unique situations. We are all free to make the choice.

    The point is of this post is that, even with HB 971, the laws permit the use of the left lane of a one-way, multi-lane highway.

  3. I would agree with Geo entirely in his July 27 post when he says that the change introduced by HB 971 does not affect the 316.2065(5)(b) exception (one way highway). I have said this before, and I will continue to say it:

    If the unfortunate clerk’s language in the introduction of the bill is ignored (which has no legal significance) and only the plain text of the change to the statute is considered, the only legal implication of HB 971 is that it removes the prior existing conflict of law that required adherence to the “keep to the right” rule even if a bicycle lane was present. Under the new wording, riding ANYWHERE within the marked lane satisfies the equivalent of the “keep to the right” rule.

    The only cyclists adversely affected are those misbegotten souls who would use obscurist readings of statutory terms to justify what is, after all, antisocial behavior: out-of-control bunch riding or head-in-the-clouds cruising six-and-a-half feet out from the curbline under the guise of avoiding a “too narrow lane.”

  4. Dear Bruce:

    “The only cyclists adversely affected are those misbegotten souls who would use obscurist readings of statutory terms to justify what is, after all, antisocial behavior: ”

    I must one of those misbegotten souls you are yammering about.

    I don’t know how things work where you come from, but around here the AASHTO Geometry Green Book recommendations are really just recommendations, and not requirements. Much like speed limits, those recommendations are regularly violated.

    Let me say this more plainly so you understand me, the AASHTO recommendations are more often ignored than they are followed.

    I have attended bicycle/pedestrian meetings where 3 foot bike lanes were talked about as being sufficient since there was no money for ROW acquisition. I measured myself and I am actually 2.5 feet wide, not 2 feet wide as is quoted in all the literature. Heaven help me if I should wobble six inches one way or the other.

    When presented with less than a 5 foot lane next to parked cars I do not think it extraordinary to demand more than the lane allows. In fact, being 2.5 feet wide, I will take more than the lane allows. I will take the traffic lane gladly and I will take whatever I need to take to insure my safety. So what if people have to take their foot off the gas for thirty seconds?

    I don’t consider it to be an anti-social act to insure my safety. You may, but I don’t.

    • In reply to Vey’s post, I make the following general assertion:

      “Taking the lane” is not a cycling technique, it is mere political theatre. It’s a stunt.

      That being said, the foregoing cannot be considered anywhere near a categorical statement. There are many situations where such riding is required, for example those roadway situations listed in 316.2065(5); transitions between roadways of different geometrics; and areas with parallel or angle parking. There, I admit, it is necessary to ride out farther from the curb than is normally required by the side-to-side sway of the average skilled rider (at most, one foot out from the curb face; maybe eight inches from the lip of the gutter pan).

      The average arterial right hand lane in Florida is 12 feet, the average car is seven, a three foot gap to pass (generous), leaving more than enough space even if the car doesn’t cheat into the other lane. Lanes less than 12 feet? yes, they are all over, but usually with speed limits below 35 and two-way ADTs below 10,000, where a two-foot clearance is fine or, more typically, a two-foot cheat into the next lane by the car is no problem because the traffic is light and there is no interference.

      I’m showing my age (55), but in the 70’s the ability to hold a road edge in a tight, rope-like line was considered the mark of the accomplished rider, not speed. One’s ability to ride on a busy street WITHOUT disrupting traffic was something we took great pride in. The first I ever heard of the “take a lane” concept was when that blowhard Forester came through town in the late 70’s. He didn’t advocate it because it was an improvement in safety, he pushed it as a way of protesting against bike lanes, by saying “hey, if you’re going to paint a stripe four feet out from the curb, “I’m going to ride SIX feet out from the curb.” We, who were teaching the newbies precision, straight-line riding at low to moderate speeds, all thought he was a wack job at the time, and I still think he is a wack job today.

      • You’ve obviously never ridden in Miami. I am regularly nudged from within the bike lane. I am regularly cut off and forced off the road. I for one will take whatever part of the road I deem necessary to not be killed. If the road gets too narrow to allow passing, guess what, Im going to take the whole lane. I really don’t care one bit what the law says in cases like that. If following the letter of the law puts me at risk of death, then its not a very good law now is it. That being said I usually ride within 4 feet of the edge of the road and follow all signs and lights, but again, if strict adherence to those laws gets me killed that smug feeling of superiority for following the law won’t matter that much anymore. Political statement my a**, its a survival strategy

  5. Bruce wrote: “Under the new wording, riding ANYWHERE within the marked lane satisfies the equivalent of the “keep to the right” rule.”

    Before 971, there was not a requirement to keep to the right side of a bike lane. A bike lane is a substandard-width lane, and there is no requirement to stay to the right in a ssw lane.

    Riding as close as is practicable to the curb or edge line is required in some cases, but only when the lane is wide enough to share. Experienced cyclists know that the farther to the right a cyclist rides, the closer the passes. I have seen one study that very graphically shows that.

    Also, when on the line there is only one way to go to avoid that rock; into traffic. The right side of the road is a sewer for cyclists. They should leave enough room to safely negotiate the frequent small hazards in most roadways.

    Trying to accommodate motorists in narrow lanes by keeping right encourages illegal and dangerous passing. We have a lot of footage that we will be using in the Bicycle Law Enforcement Program to demonstrate that.

    We also have plenty of video that shows the benefits of using legal lane positioning to encourage safe and legal overtaking and passing.

    Bruce also said: “The average arterial right hand lane in Florida is 12 feet, the average car is seven, a three foot gap to pass (generous), leaving more than enough space even if the car doesn’t cheat into the other lane.”

    That assumes the left side of the passing vehicle is exactly on the centerline. If there is a truck in the on-coming 12 foot lane, is that going to happen, or is the passing vehicle going to move toward the cyclist? If you ride on the roads, you know the answer.

    FDOT says 14 feet is the MINIMUM width of a lane for MOST motor vehicles to safely pass cyclists. Wider vehicles, which are legal up to 10.5 feet need more room. I don’t want to try to share a 12-foot lane with a semi going 45 mph.

    I agree with the problem with the use of the term “taking the lane”. It indicates aggressiveness, rather than assertively using the statutes to ride safely. Although I have used that term, I prefer to use “safe and legal road position”.

    In the 70’s, another misunderstanding was that cyclists should ride against traffic, and it was safer. I have heard that the laws stated that as well, but I can’t confirm that. That was shown to be unsafe. Many people still believe that is the law.

    Despite the belief of many, there is no statutory requirement for cyclists’ to avoid disrupting other traffic. Cyclists (and motorists) should take pride in operating safely and legally. In some situations other traffic may be temporarily delayed, but that is not unlawful. See http://flbikelaw.org/2010/05/bicycles-impeding-traffic/

  6. Perhaps I am a “nutcase” like Forrester, because (at age 55) and although I began riding 11 years ago as a “gutter bunny” who was sure the next passing bumper had my name on it, now I “take the lane” to defend my own safety when riding too far right would otherwise encourage dangerous (to all other proximal traffic) passing, and when the lane isn’t “share-able” width anyway. Once-upon-a-time I would have been delighted to have the protection of the magical white bike lane stripe or a bumpy side path, but “graduated” to adult cycling.

    Also, I wasn’t aware that Mr. Foster advocated gratuitous obstruction of overtaking traffic. I have searched all his material and can find no place where he advocates obstructing traffic just to prove equal right to use a roadway. His lane positioning explanations all seem to be related to safety, and not to “power”. I can, and have, “handled” mirrors and boat decks and other vehicle attachments passing me mere inches away. I have also bumped plenty of elbows and handlebars in fast criteriums. Skill isn’t the issue – it is life and limb – not just road rash and collarbone fractures.

    Whenever it is safe to move right and allow same-direction traffic to pass, I immediately do so. I take no pleasure from making overtaking traffic go slower (in fact I give every opportunity to pass me when practicable), but I will no longer squeeze into the debris-,pothole-, and “tank trap”-filled gutter just so some motorist can save 1.3 seconds while filling oncoming drivers with terror by shaving between us at 9 mph over the speed limit.

    Comparing notes with other (OMG – those awful words again!) “vehicular cyclists”, we find that we are almost never cursed at or honked at when we ride with care, clarity and courtesy while defending our own safety. The “BEEEEEEEEEPs” have significantly decreased, and the friendly waves have significantly increased too.

    Perhaps we VC’s should use the synonyms for “vehicular cyclists” so that we won’t raise red flags to those who resent our way of riding. “Competent cyclists”, and “VC-Americans” might work(?).

    a proud VC-American

  7. Maybe where you live there is a decrease in people honki ng at you or getting annoyed, this is the time of year where the “snow bunnies” are up north and there aren’t as many people on the road, which would help in the decrease that you’ve seen.

    On a DAILY basis, I’m honked at, at least, 10 times a day, 99% of the time, cars come way to close to me especially when i’m in the bike lane. I get buses all day long that ride way to far right, and get real close to me. They believe that the bicycle lane is for their use as well, since their vehicles are wide.. I can’t tell you how many times buses come within inches of me on a daily basis, and then they get mad that i go around them (to the left) when they are stopped (yes i make sure it’s safe to pass and use directionals), and then they have to pause for an extra 3 seconds for me to pass them.

  8. Epperson has published erroneous statements biased against me before this. I rather doubt that I made the remark that if a bike-lane stripe were painted 4 feet from the curb I would deliberately ride 6 feet from the curb. My instruction to cyclists has always been to ignore the bike-lane stripe and ride in whatever lateral position you would properly have occupied if the stripe were not there.

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