Jim asked: My family, which includes several experienced cyclists, is visiting xxx in Florida and have had some interesting experiences with police and a bike shop employee who have told us that we cannot ride on the roadway and we must ride on the pathway that is a large sidewalk/paved area. My take is that the path is not designated a bike path via symbol or signage and it is littered with people puttering on beach bikes, kids on trikes and walkers, all getting in the way of us trying to ride at 20-30+ mph. In reading the documentation here and elsewhere my take is that if there is a designated bike path with symbol and signage I am to ride there otherwise, as is the case here, we should ride on the road.
Even if the area is marked and signed or otherwise designated as a bike path, cyclists are never required to use a bicycle path or a sidewalk. Cyclists may use a paved shoulder, sidewalk (Unless prohibited by local ordinance), or a bike path if they so desire, but it is not required. A bike path is not a bike lane, which is a portion of the roadway marked for the use of bicyclists. Use of a marked bike lane by cyclists riding in the roadway is mandatory under some circumstances.
You should ask anyone who thinks otherwise to show you the statute that requires it. They will not be able to do so. Please see this and the other posts related to sidewalks, bike paths and bike lanes:
I suggest that you take this information to the local police and ask them to clarify the situation for all users.