Work Zones

Question

Hank asked:  Here on Key Biscayne we have a recent development that’s highly problematic for cyclists.  One of the bridges on the Rickenbacker Causeway, the main artery linking Key Biscayne with the mainland, needs serious repairs. This is a 4-lane bridge with two bike lanes in each direction. The county has closed one side of the bridge on an emergency basis after a recent inspection revealed structural problems. The side that’s closed consists of two motor vehicle lanes and a bike lane. The remaining side consists of two lanes and a bike lane, plus a separate dedicated multi-use path. Cyclists are currently using the side that’s closed, but eventually it will be a big construction site and presumably will be off limits.

The county is “advising” cyclists to use the dedicated path rather than ride on the roadway.  Because of the narrowness of the new configuration, the potential dangers of riding on the roadway are very real.

My assumption is the following:

–The county cannot require cyclists to ride on the dedicated path.

–Cyclists can ride on the roadway if they want and can take the lane if they need to (leading to potential slowing of traffic and/or serious danger to the cyclists from motor vehicles, which includes large trucks and buses, trying to pass them).

What could the county do to protect the safety of cyclists? What could they do to require them to ride on the dedicated path?

Answer

I believe your assumptions are correct, but see below.

One major point.  Your use of the phrase “potential slowing of traffic” isn’t fully accurate.  A better perspective is the use of “other traffic”.  That is an important distinction since bicycles are traffic and bicyclists have the same rights and duties as other drivers.

s. 316.003 – Definitions

(57) Traffic – Pedestrians, ridden or herded animals, and vehicles, streetcars, and other conveyances either singly or together while using any street or highway for purposes of travel.

There is a colloquium about just that in Feb 2013.  See:

http://commuteorlando.com/wordpress/2013/01/04/i-am-traffic-bicycle-education-colloquium-update/

When a bike way is disrupted by work, the Florida Department of Transportation insures that bicyclists are not prohibited from travel through the work zone.

FDOT Plans Preparation Manual

Chapter 10 – Transportation Management Plan

10.12.4 Pedestrians and Bicyclists

Transportation plans and projects must consider safety and contiguous routes for pedestrians and bicyclists. In developing Temporary Traffic Control (TTC) Plans, when an existing pedestrian way or bicycle way is located within a traffic control work zone, accommodation must be maintained ….

It may be that the bike path is considered a proper bicycle way through a work zone and may be a required alternative.

If bicyclists are to use the roadway during this period, the FDOT could place “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” signs as they have done in other locations.  One is presently in place in St. Augustine while the shoulder is closed for work on the SR 312 bridge.

There may be other considerations so I have asked for assistance on this one from Dwight who is the FDOT Bike/Ped expert.

See also the tags for “lane position”, “substandard-width lane” and “impeding traffic”.  In particular, this post addresses the BMUFL signs:

http://flbikelaw.org/2012/03/bicycles-may-use-full-lanes-signs/

Posted in Ask Geo, Bike Paths Tagged with: , , , ,
5 comments on “Work Zones
  1. Hank Sanchez-Resnik says:

    George–
    Very helpful reply. My bad for forgetting that bicycles are traffic, as though I’m not fully aware of that! Maybe the local folks in charge of the bridge need to consult with you, too. At the moment a third lane of the bridge has been re-opened, but that’s only temporary. Soon we’ll be back to two lanes out of four and major inconveniences for cyclists–and motorists, too. Just as important as the physical dangers to all users of the road is the inevitable anger toward cyclists that so many motorists on Key Biscayne seem to revel in. I’m part of a new group called Bike Key Biscayne, and our hope is we’ll be able to help everyone stay calm, educated, and respectful. Not an easy task when everyone will be seriously inconvenienced for up to a year!

  2. Geo says:

    Hank,
    When Dwight returns, he may have more info.
    I am aware of the history of Key Biscayne and the problems. Good on you for getting organized with your group. I recommend that you get to know the FDOT folks and the police in the area and coordinate the efforts.
    I should also have mentioned the South Florida Bicycle Coalition. They are active in your area and may be able to assist. They may have contact with FDOT and be familiar with the people who are working on the project.
    http://sfbikecoalition.wordpress.com/

  3. NE2 (Nathan) says:

    In the past, I’ve seen under-construction (for widening) bridges where the contractor posted ‘no bikes or pedestrians’ signs (example: US 192 over Shingle Creek ca. 2005). Obviously this was illegal.

    More local to Miami: doesn’t the MacArthur Causeway/Port of Miami Tunnel project have eastbound cyclists using the sidewalk?

  4. Geo says:

    Separately from Dwight:

    Tricky traffic management with the limited space.

    Has the speed limit been temporarily changed? In Google Maps imagery, the speed limit on the bridge appears to be 45 mph.

    The road the bridge carries is apparently a county road. As it’s not a state highway, chapter 10 of the FDOT Plans Preparation Manual would not apply, unless the County has adopted that chapter for their own temporary traffic control policy.

    If cyclists are only “advised” to use the adjacent shared-use path, then apparently they aren’t required to use it (although some motorists may so interpret). Whether a requirement for cyclists to use the path in this situation could stand up in a court of law, I don’t know. If there are conditions on the path that make it notably risky, conflict-prone or inconvenient to use on a bicycle and they are conditions the County might be able to mitigate in some way, they should be brought to the County’s attention. If they aren’t conditions the County could reasonably mitigate, it might still be helpful to bring them to the attention of the authorities (should the temporary traffic control be reconsidered?).

    On highways with paved shoulder closures but without bike lane markings or signing on approaches, there often isn’t any bicycle-specific signing (e.g., as in this treatment for a 2-lane, 2-way highway: http://www.dot.state.fl.us/rddesign/DS/13/IDx/00602.pdf ); cyclists just ride in the travel lanes–but usually there aren’t many cyclists passing through such work zones. A jurisdiction could use the Bicycles May Use Full Lane (R4-11) sign to better support cyclist use of a travel lane where the lane width is insufficient for a cyclist and motor vehicle traffic to travel safely side by side within the lane (you mentioned the use of this sign in your online response), but I don’t know of any regulation or manual that requires a jurisdiction to use the sign, or recommends that it do so; use of the sign is optional.

    Dwight Kingsbury
    Pedestrian-Cycling Safety
    FDOT Safety Office
    Tallahassee FL 32399-0450
    P: 850-245-1520

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