Dismount at Crosswalks?

Question

J asked:  My wife and I rode our bicycles to a (football) game tonight. We were riding down xxxx Street, through traffic, when we were politely redirected by a police officer to follow the pedestrians because it “would be safer.”  We followed/avoided pedestrians and came to the main crosswalk to the stadium.  Still steering clear of pedestrians, we crossed through the crosswalk and were told by police that we were not allowed to ride our bicycles through the crosswalk.  We immediately dismounted our bikes.  I would love to keep riding bikes to games, but what’s the deal here?

Answer

The location of the incident is removed since we want to discuss the laws and not specify communities or agencies.

There is no state statute that requires bicyclists to dismount when crossing a roadway within a crosswalk.  When on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk, bicyclists have the same rights a duties as pedestrians.

s. 316.2065 – Bicycle Regulations

(10) A person propelling a vehicle by human power upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, has all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.

Bicyclists must always yield to pedestrians on a sidewalk or crosswalk, and must give an audible signal before passing.

(11) A person propelling a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian.

Giving the audible signal does not relieve cyclists of the responsibility to yield to pedestrians.  In other words, cyclists cannot expect pedestrians to get out of the way just because they yell at them.  Sidewalks and crosswalks are first and foremost for pedestrians.

Bicyclists have a further responsibility to reduce speed and exercise due care to avoid colliding with pedestrians.  I believe crowds of pedestrians could be interpreted as one of the special hazards indicated in this statute.

s. 316.185 – Special Hazards

The fact that the speed of a vehicle is lower than the prescribed limits shall not relieve the driver from the duty to decrease speed …. when special hazards exist or may exist with respect to pedestrians or other traffic …. and speed shall be decreased as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle, or other conveyance on or entering the street in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care.  The sidewalk is part of the “street or highway” in the statutory definition.

None of the above indicates a requirement to dismount, but does indicate a higher responsibility of a cyclist on a sidewalk or crosswalk.

There may be a local ordinance in effect or special order for such events which does require additional actions of cyclists on sidewalks and crosswalks.

I recommend taking this information to the police department in question and asking them to clarify the rules that you and others must follow for these events.  If different from the above, ask them for reference to any statutes, ordinances or regulations that are the basis for their statements.  You might also ask them to publicize the requirements for all attendees for these events so everyone will understand the rules.   Please advise me of the response.

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3 comments on “Dismount at Crosswalks?
  1. Jayeson says:

    I’m confused in this situation where the officers’ right to direct traffic ends. It seems J was directed off the roadway and then directed to dismount and walk. I get the impression that J wants to keep riding in traffic.

  2. Geo says:

    Sorry, but I missed that part of the question in my answer.

    Please see:

    http://flbikelaw.org/2010/01/bicycles-must-use-sidewalk/

    Except when the orders are not in compliance with statutes, I’m not sure about the question about limits of an officer’s authority. For example, when an officer stops traffic and allows a large group of bicyclists to proceed through a red light, what is the authority? If others have questions for the FHP, you can contact them at FHP@flhsmv.gov.

    The following email was sent this date:

    Hello Sgt. Evans,

    We would like to thank you for clarifying the status of motorized wheel chairs on sidewalks in HB 971 and ultimately in s. 316.1995 after we discussed it. I assume it was your initiative that accomplished that. Well done!

    Another question was asked on the Ask Geo website that I could not answer.

    Can you advise us of the statutory authority for an officer to direct traffic when it is not in compliance with statutes? I can find only that the officer’s responsibility is to enforce the statutes per s. 316.640.

    An example might be when an officer directs traffic facing a green light to stop to allow a large group of cyclists to proceed through a red light. Another might be when an officer stops traffic that would otherwise have the right of way to allow traffic to exit a church parking lot with a stop sign.

    The specific question on Ask Geo was the authority of a police officer to direct a cyclist proceeding to a large event to leave the roadway and ride on the sidewalk in one instance, then directing the cyclist to dismount at a crosswalk. Apparently there was no local ordinance to regulate bicycle use in accordance with s. 316.008, and I can find no statute to support those directions.

    You can see my response to a similar question at http://flbikelaw.org/2010/01/bicycles-must-use-sidewalk/. Your comments would be appreciated.

    Your assistance in this matter will be greatly appreciated.

  3. Frank says:

    Comment removed. Please limit comments to discussion of the statutes. Geo

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