Cycling Groups and Bike Lanes
Traci asked: We had a large group (about 30) traveling north on A1A in South Palm Beach last Saturday, cycling about 19-20 mph. We were riding 2 abreast, where the riders closest to the curbs were fully in the marked bike lane and the riders closest to the cars were skirting the bike lane line. An officer tailed the group, continuously hitting his siren, then said through his loudspeaker, “If you don’t get inside that white line, I’m going to ticket you.” One of the front riders was riding wide (I’m not sure if we was rotating off the front of the line), and the officer pulled him over and presumably gave him a ticket, because it was a good 15 minutes from then that we picked the rider back up on the return south.
So, what statute says we can get a ticket for not being inside a bike lane? We weren’t impeding traffic…we ride this route every weekend. I can see giving a warning to the guy that was out in the center of the lane…no question, that’s not where he should be.
The statutes do not take into consideration that bicyclists like to ride as a group. A single bicyclist is operating a single vehicle and the laws are written accordingly. Cyclists operating as a group do not have any special rights, and their rights and duties apply as operators of single vehicles.
s. 316.2065 – Bicycle Regulations
(1) Every person propelling a vehicle by human power has all of the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle under this chapter ….
That statute requires the use of bike lanes under some circumstances. There are many exceptions.
(5)(a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride in the lane marked for bicycle use ….
Bicyclists may ride two or more abreast within a bike lane. If not in a bike lane, there are limitations. See other posts for a discussion of those limitations.
(6) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway may not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Persons riding two abreast may not impede traffic when traveling at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing and shall ride within a single lane.
One of the many exceptions to the “bike lane” requirement is:
(5)(a) …. except under any of the following situations:
1. When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
Bicyclists may leave a bike lane to pass another vehicle, including another bicycle.
Cyclists riding in groups typically ride in pace lines and rotate off the front regularly, allowing the front rider who is pulling the group (doing the most work) to cycle to the back to draft and rest, thereby spreading the work evenly through the group. That is usually done with the front rider dropping off to the left and the group passing on his/her right within the bike lane when present. Bicycle lanes are usually four feet wide, which does not comfortably accommodate that practice within the lane, so the rider dropping back is usually outside the bike lane.
Note that the subsection above states that bicyclists may leave the bike lane to overtake and pass another bicycle. It does not allow for the single cyclist to drop back on the left outside the bike lane.
To fully comply with the statute, the group would leave the bike lane to overtake and pass on the left of the cyclist that is dropping back in the bike lane. While that may be technically correct, it would mean that the group would be outside the bike lane almost always when there is continuous rotation off the pull.
Although legal, that would probably interfere with other traffic and draw the attention of the police, evidence that the laws are not written with cycling groups in mind.