Pedestrians on Shared Use Paths

Question

There are an amazing number of conflictual responses to this dilemma.  On the “shared path” on Pine Island in Lee County there are no lines marking the path or in any way designating flow of traffic for cyclists or pedestrians. We need help to curb the number of accidents and I am working to help educate residents and visitors. I am not sure how to proceed with this issue. Can you advise? Also am I correct to assume that the cyclists should stay to the right unless passing or is that unclear as well?

Answer

There is no statutory definition of  “Shared Use Path”, only “Bicycle Path”.

See the following post for the statutes related to bicycles on bicycle paths.

http://flbikelaw.org/2011/03/keep-right-on-bike-paths/ – more-691

A bicycle path is not a sidewalk.

s. 316.003 – Definitions

(47) Sidewalk – That portion of a street between the curbline, or the lateral line, of a roadway and the adjacent property lines, intended for use by pedestrians.

The definitions of shared use path arise from other sources.  All are explicit about pedestrians being intended users of shared use paths, but do not address regulations or enforcement.

Florida Greenbook (For municipal and county roadways)

Definition of Terms

Shared Use Path – Facilities on exclusive right of way with minimal cross flow by motor vehicles. Users are non-motorized and may include but are not limited to: bicyclists, in-line skaters, wheelchair users (both non-motorized and motorized), and pedestrians.

Plans Preparation Manual (For state roadways)

Glossary of Terms

Bicycle Way: Any road, path or way which by law is open to bicycle travel, regardless of whether such facilities are signed and marked for the preferential use by bicyclists or are to be shared with other transportation modes. Examples include bicycle lanes, paved shoulders, shared use paths, and traffic lanes.

Pedestrian Way: A space for pedestrian travel separated from traffic lanes. Sidewalks, shared use paths, footpaths and shoulders are considered to be pedestrian ways. However, footpaths and shoulders are not accessible facilities, since they lack specific improvements or provisions to accommodate or encourage walking.

If we are to rely only on the available statutes, a bike path is a roadway intended for bicycles, and pedestrians must comply with the statutes related to roadways.

s. 316.130 – Pedestrians; Traffic Regulations

(4) Where sidewalks are not provided, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall, when practicable, walk only on the shoulder on the left side of the roadway in relation to the pedestrian’s direction of travel, facing traffic which may approach from the opposite direction.

Although it is obvious that shared use paths are intended for use by bicyclists and pedestrians, the statutes do not clarify a hierarchy, but if taken literally, seem to treat the shared use path as a roadway and require pedestrians to take certain actions.  However, the laws do not seem to fully address the possible issues that might arise, and a more subjective reading of the statutes might be more appropriate.  You may want to ask your local officials for legal advice before proceeding.

One provision of the pedestrian regulations applies in any location, and charges vehicle operators to use due care to avoid colliding with pedestrians or bicyclists wherever they may be.

(15) Notwithstanding other provisions of this chapter, every driver of a vehicle (In this case, a bicycle) shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or any person propelling a human-powered vehicle and give warning when necessary and exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused or incapacitated person.

You may want to ask your local officials to consider exercising the powers in the statutes to address local issues by ordinance or regulation and appropriate signage and education.

s. 316.008Powers of Local Authorities

(1) The provisions of this chapter shall not be deemed to prevent local authorities, with respect to streets and highways under their jurisdiction and within the reasonable exercise of the police power, from:

(h) Regulating the operation of bicycles.

(n) Prohibiting or regulating the use of heavily traveled streets by any class or kind of traffic found to be incompatible with the normal and safe movement of traffic.

(s) Regulating persons upon skates, coasters, and other toy vehicles.

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