Emily asked: I recently decided to ride my bike to and from work. I have to travel along a roadway that has no bike lane but has sidewalks on both sides. There is a carwash/restaurant that puts an advertisement sign directly on the sidewalk only allowing about a foot of space closest to the street to pass. As I was trying to avoid/pass the sign, I fell off of my bike into the middle of the street. Luckily, my riding partner was able to block the oncoming traffic and I only sprained my ankle. Is it legal to block the sidewalk in this manner?
Let’s begin with the reminder that sidewalks are intended for pedestrians, but cyclists may use them unless prohibited by local ordinance. This is one of many unexpected hazards that endanger cyclists on sidewalks.
Advertising that interferes with safe passage is not generally allowed on transportation facilities.
s. 334.03 – Definitions – When used in the Florida Transportation Code, the term:
(31) “Transportation facility” means any means for the transportation of people or property from place to place which is constructed, operated, or maintained in whole or in part from public funds. The term includes the property or property rights, both real and personal, which have been or may be established by public bodies for the transportation of people or property from place to place. The following applies to transportation facilities outside municipalities.
s. 337.406 – Unlawful Use of State Transportation Facility Right-of-Way; Penalties
(1) Except when leased …. or otherwise authorized by the rules of the department, it is unlawful to make any use of the right-of-way of any state transportation facility, including appendages thereto, outside of an incorporated municipality in any manner that interferes with the safe and efficient movement of people and property from place to place on the transportation facility. Failure to prohibit the use of right-of-way in this manner will endanger the health, safety, and general welfare of the public by causing distractions to motorists, unsafe pedestrian movement within travel lanes, sudden stoppage or slowdown of traffic, rapid lane changing and other dangerous traffic movement, increased vehicular accidents, and motorist injuries and fatalities. Such prohibited uses include, but are not limited to, the free distribution or sale, or display or solicitation for free distribution or sale, of any merchandise, goods, property or services; the solicitation for charitable purposes; …. Local governmental entities may, within their respective jurisdictions, initiate enforcement action by the appropriate code enforcement authority or law enforcement authority for a violation of this section.
The following ordinance seems to be targeting individuals standing in the roadway, but selected sections may also be applicable. In Chapter 316, streets and highways are defined as all public right-of-way, including sidewalks.
s. 316.2045 – Obstruction of Public Streets, Highways, and Roads
(1) It is unlawful for any person or persons willfully to obstruct the free, convenient, and normal use of any public street, highway, or road by impeding, hindering, stifling, retarding, or restraining traffic or passage thereon, …. or by endangering the safe movement of vehicles or pedestrians traveling thereon.
For regulations about transportation facilities within municipalities, there may also be local ordinances that prohibit obstruction of sidewalks that can be found at this link, or in your county code of ordinances:
You may also want to contact your local police department to determine the requirements.