Mark asked: I live (and ride) along the East Coast of Florida (in Fort Lauderdale) and when I am in the bike lane on A1A (headed north) there is no traffic on my right hand side, as of course it is the Atlantic Ocean. Do I still need to stop at a red light if I am going straight and I am in the bike lane? The only possibility of an accident would be someone turning from a perpendicular road that would be heading north (as it is a one way road) and if that driver turned too wide and went into the bike lane. Obviously this is a very real possibility, however I was just wondering if I am still required by law to stop at said red light or can I proceed at my own risk?
Short answer: Yes, you are required to stop for the red light.
Actually there is another possibility of an accident, that of your colliding with a pedestrian legally crossing the roadway.
The applicable statute is:
s. 316.075 – Traffic Control Signal Devices
(c) Steady red indication
1. Vehicular traffic facing a steady red signal shall stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then before entering the intersection and shall remain standing until a green indication is shown
A similar statute applies to intersections with stop signs.
s. 316.123 – Vehicle Entering Stop or Yield Intersection
(2)(a) …. every driver of a vehicle approaching a stop intersection indicated by a stop sign shall stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway before entering the intersection.
A bike lane is part of the roadway as defined in both Florida and national roadway guidelines.
FDOT Plans Preparation Manual
3. Bicycle Lane: A bicycle lane (bike lane) is a portion of a roadway (either with curb and gutter or a flush shoulder) which has been designated by striping and special pavement markings for the preferential use by bicyclists.
Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices
23. Bicycle Lane—a portion of a roadway that has been designated for preferential or exclusive use by bicyclists by pavement markings and, if used, signs.
Roadway is defined in Florida statutes.
s.316.003 – Definitions
(42) Roadway – That portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the berm or shoulder.
The MUTCD defines it further by considering bicyclists on the shoulder.
178. Roadway—that portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel and parking lanes, but exclusive of the sidewalk, berm, or shoulder (Not marked as a bike lane) even though such sidewalk, berm, or shoulder is used by persons riding bicycles or other human-powered vehicles.
A properly marked bike lane will incorporate the stop bar across the entire roadway, including the bike lane.
224. Stop Line—A solid white pavement marking line extending across approach lanes to indicate the point at which a stop is intended or required to be made.
The same is true of crosswalk markings. Note the use of the term “traversable roadway,” which includes the bike lane.
(a) That part of a roadway at an intersection included within the connections of the lateral lines of the sidewalks on opposite sides of the highway measured from the curbs or in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the traversable roadway, and in the absence of a sidewalk on one side of the roadway, the part of a roadway included within the extension of the lateral lines of the sidewalk at right angles to the center line; (b) any portion of a roadway at an intersection or elsewhere distinctly indicated as a pedestrian crossing by pavement marking lines on the surface, which might be supplemented by contrasting pavement texture, style, or color.