Gated Community Roadway

Question

Nathan asked: When are you allowed to enter a gated community on a bike for the purpose of exercise or cutting through? In particular, can you enter in the following situations?

(a) The normal “car” gate is in the permanent open position. One nearby community is still selling homes and keeps the gate up, presumably so prospective buyers can easily get there. (Or it may be because the residents do not wish to pay for a guard.)

(b) The sidewalk gate is unlocked or open.

(c) The gate on a path not adjacent to a road (e.g. from a school or park) is open. In this case, one may not be aware that it is a gated community if cycling in an unfamiliar area.

In all of these cases, we will assume that there is no sign more specific than a simple ‘private property’ without ‘no trespassing’, and that one has had no contact with anyone in charge of the community.

Answer

The statute that applies is:

s. 316.003 – Definitions

(33) Private Road or Driveway – Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (53)(b), any privately owned way or place used for vehicular travel by the owner and those having express or implied permission from the owner, but not by other persons.

The owners of private property can set rules as desired.

If there is no indication of restrictions such as signs or closed or guarded gates, and if the roadway or sidewalk is open to general traffic, it would seem the owner has no objection, and may be encouraging traffic as you indicated.  If you would normally drive a car or walk in the area, there should be no difference if you are on a bicycle.  However, the community may have regulations that are not posted, but are in the community’s written documents provided to residents.

This post may be helpful as well:

http://flbikelaw.org/2010/04/bicycles-on-private-roads/

If in doubt, you should contact the owners or the local police.

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One comment on “Gated Community Roadway
  1. NE2 says:

    Thanks. This is pretty much what I had guessed, but common sense isn’t always legal.

    Certainly if I used such a route as part of my daily commute, I’d want to talk to the owners and make sure they won’t abruptly close it one day and force me to backtrack several miles. (Of course I’d run the risk then of being told “you shouldn’t have been cutting through in the first place”, and I’d be reminded of the advantage in waiting to ask forgiveness.) But for exercise riding, it’s not a big deal. I just wanted to be sure I’m not doing anything illegal by riding through an open gate.

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