Shoulder Marked as a Bike Lane


Nathan asked:  Are you required to use a shoulder that is marked as a bike lane?

For example:,-82.228471&spn=0.008296,0.016512&gl=us&t=m&z=17&layer=c&cbll=29.684345,-82.228663&panoid=hnjR0kHKenOb_aRjkq9rSQ&cbp=12,248.86,,0,0.09

This is obviously a shoulder, yet a sign says BIKE LANE BEGINS. (Incidentally, there’s a share the road sign just before this.)  Does calling a shoulder a lane make it legally a lane?


Under some circumstances, cyclists are required to use “lanes marked for bicycle use”.  There are many exceptions.  See this post:

Note that the statute does not say “bicycle lane”, for which there is no statutory definition.

A “bicycle lane” is defined in Florida Department of Transportation documents as:

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, special pavement markings, and signing for the preferential use by bicyclists.

The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices specifies the requirements for a proper “bicycle lane.”

Section 9C.04 Markings For Bicycle Lanes

Pavement markings designate that portion of the roadway for preferential use by bicyclists. Markings inform all road users of the restricted nature of the bicycle lane.

Roadway markings are mandatory, but “Bicycle Lane” signs are optional.

If the word, symbol, and/or arrow pavement markings shown in Figure 9C-3 are used, Bike Lane signs (see Section 9B.04) may also be used.

The paved shoulders you describe must have periodic pavement markings in addition to signs to be “a lane marked for bicycles” described in the statute above.

11 Comments on “Shoulder Marked as a Bike Lane

  1. Interestingly, the 2003 MUTCD requires bike lane signs (‘shall’ rather than ‘may’).

    As for the 2009 MUTCD, it says “Longitudinal pavement markings shall be used to define bicycle lanes.” but “If used, bicycle lane word, symbol, and/or arrow markings…”. I suppose the question is whether ‘marked for bicycle use’ means that it must have *pavement* markings, or whether a sign is legally a marking.

    So does adding bike stencils to a shoulder make it a bike lane?

  2. “So does adding bike stencils to a shoulder make it a bike lane?”

    More importantly, for Florida statutory and practical purposes, that makes it a “lane marked for use by bicycles.”

  3. Is there a minimum width requirement for a bike lane to be a bike lane?

    It’s amazing (to me at least) how many motorists (as well as LEOs) think that just because there is a white line on the right edge of the road that any space to it’s right is automatically a “bike lane.” Today while I was out riding I had a cyclist heading in the opposite direction to me tell me to get into the “bike lane.” This so called “bike lane” was a 1′ or less wide and did not have any pavement markings. Yet, in his opinion it was a “bike lane.”

  4. Consistent with the 2009 Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, the definition of “bicycle lane” has been revised in the FDOT Plans Preparation Manual. Beginning with the 2011 edition, the definition in the PPM has been:

    “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.”

  5. Dwight,
    That is the same as the definition I have in the Jan 1 2009 version which is above. Am I missing something?

  6. Given that bike lanes are required to be 4 feet wide, does a repurposed 3 foot shoulder adjacent to a curb, marked as a bike lane, still qualify? I can’t imagine that I could avoid a ticket for not using them, regardless of the legality, but they are clearly substandard width for bicycle use.

  7. See this post and contact your local roadway authorities and ask them to correct the situation. A bike lane must be a minimum of four feet wide.

    As always, it is best to use your county Bike/Ped Advisory Committee or other organized groups to correct such problems. You may also want to advise law enforcement officials, county commission, city council, mayor, etc. and solicit their assistance in correcting the situation.

    Also, the pavement to the left of the curb or edge line is not a shoulder. It is part of the roadway.
    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.

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