Passing on the Right

Question

Alan asked: I do a lot of riding in downtown St Augustine. It’s close, cramped, and traffic is poorly regulated. These streets were laid hundreds of years ago and weren’t meant for heavy traffic. When I’m late for work, I “take the lane” and ride along with traffic because the speed limit is low enough that I can keep up. My question is this: There are intersections in town where there is a stop light, but one of the four intersecting streets is for pedestrians only. Therefore, traffic is never coming from or going to this street. Is it legal for me to move to the right side of the road, overtake a backed up line of cars at the red light, and pass through the red light with the entrance to the pedestrian street on my right? I am not crossing any avenues for traffic and am simply moving as a pedestrian would across the mouth of a pedestrian only street. Am I doing something illegal?

Answer

Good on you for using proper lane positioning.  I’m afraid that’s the end of the kudos though.  I suggest that you leave a few minutes early and drive your bicycle like other vehicle drivers.

If you are crossing the street within the roadway you are running the light, which is clearly unlawful.

If you are on the sidewalk for any part of this maneuver, you are violating a St. Augustine ordinance that prohibits bicyclists on sidewalks.  If vehicles are not permitted, the pedestrian street you mention is a sidewalk.

Sec. 24-107. – Riding on sidewalks prohibited.

No person shall ride or use any bicycle upon any sidewalk upon any of the streets or lanes within the corporate limits of the city.

If you are passing vehicles on the right when they are stopped for a crosswalk at the light, you may be violating this statute:

s. 316.130 – Pedestrians, Traffic Regulations

(9) Whenever any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle.

Passing should be accomplished on the left except when passing on the right is specifically allowed.

s. 316.083Overtaking and Passing a Vehicle

The following rules shall govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction, subject to those limitations, exceptions, and special rules hereinafter stated:

(1) The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction …. shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance

s. 316.084When Overtaking on the Right is Permitted

(1) The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass on the right of another vehicle only under the following conditions:

(b) Upon a street or highway with unobstructed pavement not occupied by parked vehicles of sufficient width for two or more lines of moving traffic in each direction;

(c) Upon a one-way street, or upon any roadway on which traffic is restricted to one direction of movement, where the roadway is free from obstructions and of sufficient width for two or more lines of moving vehicles.

If you are passing vehicles within the same lane, you are violating .083 and .084, since the lanes in St. Augustine are of substandard-width and not wide enough for “two lines of moving vehicles”.

s. 316.2065 – Bicycle Regulations

(5)(a)3 …. A “substandard-width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.

The minimum width of a lane that allows “two lines of moving vehicles” is 14 feet.  The lanes in St. Augustine are not 14 feet wide, except on the west side of the Bridge of Lions and about 100 feet of the northbound wide curb lane on US 1 at San Carlos.  Maybe others, but most are less than 12 feet, particularly in old town.

FDOT Plans Preparation Manual

Chapter 8 – Bicycle Facilities

Section 8.4.3 Wide Curb Lanes

Wide outside curb lanes are through lanes which provide a minimum of 14 feet in width. This width allows most motor vehicles to pass cyclists within the travel lane, which is not possible in more typical 10-12 foot wide travel lanes.

If you are using another roadway to avoid the light, you are violating this statute:

s. 316.074 – Obedience to and Required Traffic Control Devices

(2) No person shall drive any vehicle from a roadway to another roadway to avoid obeying the indicated traffic control indicated by such traffic control device.

See also:

http://flbikelaw.org/2011/06/queue-jumping-bicyclists/

Posted in Ask Geo, Overtaking & Passing Tagged with: , , , , ,
3 comments on “Passing on the Right
  1. NE2 says:

    It’s also worth noting that, since the street to the left is not pedestrian only, you’re basically running a red at a T-intersection. Interestingly, an experiment was done in Illinois some years ago with treating this the same as a right on red (for all vehicles) but presumably there were too many crashes.

    It’s probably legal to get off and walk your bike on the sidewalk (depends on how “use any bicycle” is interpreted), and if traffic is insane this may be faster than riding.

  2. Frank says:

    Depends on where, “The corporate limits of the city” are, as to whether the area you’re talking about is and whether you can ride your bicycle…
    Where are the “corporate limits” defined?

  3. Geo says:

    The county or city website has the boundaries defined and as maps. For example, the city limits for the City of St. Augustine can be found under the maps link at

    http://www.staugustinegovernment.com/the-city/maps-libraries/maps-library.cfm

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