Bicyclists on Bike Paths

Question

Mike also asked: Florida Statues define a crosswalk as existing within the lines of sidewalks approaching a street.   And the statutes are strong regarding the rights of pedestrians within those crosswalks.

What if it is an intersection of a trail, like the Legacy Trail, and a street?   Does Florida Statute define it as a crosswalk when a trail crosses a road?

My concern is that someone could argue that since it is trail crossing, that it is not technically a crosswalk, because there are not sidewalks approaching the road.

Answer

Bicyclists on a bicycle path do not have the rights and duties of pedestrians since they are not on a sidewalk.

A bicycle trail or multi-use trail is a bicycle path and not a sidewalk.  The statutory definition is:

s. 316.003 – Definitions

(63) Bicycle Path – Any road, path, or way that is open to bicycle travel, which road, path, or way is physically separated from motorized vehicular traffic by an open space or by a barrier and is located either within the highway right-of-way or within an independent right-of-way.

A bicycle path meets the requirements to be a roadway, even though motorized vehicles are prohibited.

(42) Roadway – That portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel.

(53) Street or Highway

(a) The entire width between the boundary lines of every way or place of whatever nature when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular traffic

Your description of a crosswalk is essentially correct, but not applicable to the question of bicyclists on bicycle paths.

(6) Crosswalk

(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.

(b) Any portion of a roadway at an intersection or elsewhere distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface.

Bicyclists on a bicycle path that intersects with another roadway do not have the rights and duties of pedestrians, since they are not on a sidewalk.  They must follow the laws related to drivers of vehicles at intersections.

Bicyclist on a bicycle path facing a stop sign must stop and yield to other traffic.

If no stop sign is present, they must comply with applicable law.

s. 316.121Vehicles Approaching or Entering Intersections

(3) The driver of a vehicle about to enter or cross a state-maintained road or highway from a paved or unpaved road and not subject to control by an official traffic control device shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching on the state-maintained road or highway.

(4) The driver of a vehicle about to enter or cross a paved county-maintained or city-maintained road or highway from an unpaved road or highway and not subject to control by an official traffic control device shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching on said paved road or highway.

Posted in Ask Geo, Bike Paths Tagged with: , ,
11 comments on “Bicyclists on Bike Paths
  1. Nathan says:

    “Any portion of a roadway at an intersection or elsewhere distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface” – wouldn’t this include a bike path crossing painted like a crosswalk? Most crossings I’m aware of are painted as such, e.g. http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&ll=28.625632,-81.496055&spn=0.008382,0.016512&gl=us&t=m&z=17&layer=c&cbll=28.625632,-81.496055&panoid=QOelhR-CDQDj2lBvKJ4Nng&cbp=12,278.53,,0,0.76

    Does the MUTCD define this style of pavement marking as anything other than “indicated for pedestrian crossing”?

    • Mike Lasche says:

      Nathan, I think you are absolutely correct on a situation where there is, in fact, a marked crosswalk. 316.003 (6) (b) clearly calls that a crosswalk.

      But, my question concerned a situation where there were no such markings. As George makes clear above, and as my research into Florida Statute is unable to challenge, there is no implied crosswalk when a trail meets a street. I wouldn’t call my research absolutely definitive but I could find no evidence to make a contrary case.

      In my view, this is a situation that may require a legislative remedy. If an intersection gives pedestrians/cyclists certain crossing rights, why not a trail?

      (6) CROSSWALK.—
      (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.
      (b) Any portion of a roadway at an intersection or elsewhere distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface.

  2. Geo says:

    Good catch. If there is a marked crosswalk, that is true, but there may be a conflict if there is also a stop sign. See:
    http://flbikelaw.org/2011/08/right-of-way-on-bike-paths/

    • Nathan says:

      MUTCD 2B.05: “When it is determined that a full stop is always required on an approach to an intersection, a STOP (R1-1) sign (see Figure 2B-1) shall be used.”
      Florida statutes 316.123: “After having stopped, the driver shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle which has entered the intersection from another highway or which is approaching so closely on said highway as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time when the driver is moving across or within the intersection.”

      Neither appears to say that someone on an approach without a stop sign necessarily has right-of-way over someone who has a stop sign.

      In other words, I think the meaning of the common stop-sign-with-crosswalk-paint setup is that cyclists on the path must stop before entering, but drivers on the road must yield right-of-way to any path users.

  3. Geo says:

    That’s the conclusion I came to as indicated in the link above, but only after the path user has entered or nearly so into the crosswalk. If the path user is stopped on the path outside the crosswalk, as is the case for all such situations, the driver is not required to yield if there is no control device in that direction in addition to the crosswalk markings. The driver must yield

    “to a pedestrian (bicyclist) crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian (bicyclist) is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.”

    • Mike Lasche says:

      Dear George,

      Thanks for the clarification on the implied rights of pedestrians/cyclists crossing from a trail versus their rights crossing at an intersection.

      Particularly as trails grow in popularity, this could become a problem.

      Mike Lasche

    • Mike Lasche says:

      Dear George,

      Not to belabor the point but I believe your analysis not only applies to cyclists but also applies to pedestrians equally at an intersection of a trail and roadway. This means that the rights of a pedestrian, and duties of a motorist, at some type of crosswalk……..do not apply at a point where a trail crosses a roadway.

      Of course, 316.130 (15) does require a motorist to avoid conflicts with pedestrians. (see below)

      Mike

      (15) Notwithstanding other provisions of this chapter, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or any person propelling a human-powered vehicle and give warning when necessary and exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused or incapacitated person.

  4. Geo says:

    That would seem to be the case. There are other similar “due care” provisions in other statutes. The statutes also caution pedestrians about leaving a place of safety.

    (8) No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.

  5. Kris says:

    Every bike path that I know of in Florida is a multi-use path predominated by pedestrians. I doubt that these could be implicitly considered roads by the definition you give above, but I’m still unsure whether their crossings would constitute an unmarked crosswalk (though they always have explicitly marked crosswalks that I’ve seen).

    I’m also unsure whether cyclists would be accorded the rights and duties of pedestrians on such paths. They’re generally not technically sidewalks (though I know of some that look like sidewalks for a portion), but the users, traffic, and rules are similar.

  6. Geo says:

    While it is true that many pedestrians use multi-use trails, there is no statutory definition for that term or shared-use trails or paths.
    The original question asked about traffic requirements at the intersection of a bike path and another roadway. For traffic law purposes, the definition of roadway fits the bike path and I believe the conclusions presented are accurate for traffic law purposes. We are not aware of any precedent, case law or formal legal opinions on the subject so we are presenting the statutes that seem to apply.
    We should also note that there are few explicit regulations, ordinances or statutes that direct the use of bike paths, multi-use or shared-use trails, so trying to apply the usual traffic law is difficult. For example, are pedestrians required to use the left shoulder and walk facing traffic? Are bicyclists required to remain in the right half of the roadway as they are in some other circumstances? If we apply roadway traffic law they are, but as we all know that is not the case on most multi-use trails.

  7. Marcus101RR says:

    Interesting how one states that Vehicles are prohibited on Bike Trails/Paths, but yet the Authorizes such as Security Guards, Police Cars, etc use them to catch someone violating traffic laws before they enter the path.

    This is dangerous to both.

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