A1A Group Rides

Question

Paul asked: I live off A1A and on weekends the cyclists ride in large groups along this route. The problem is there seems to be no etiquette on their part. They block the entire lane while riding and chatting to each other. They don’t seem to care about the long line of traffic that builds up behind them. This is very frustrating for me as I am trying to get to work. I looked at the bicycle traffic laws on your site and I am now convinced that my instincts were right. None of them ride in the bicycle lane or two abreast. It is very frustrating and something must be done. It seems to me that the fancier the cycling outfits, the worse the behavior. How can the weekend warriors be compelled to obey the law in the same way that I have to?

Answer

I know that is a common problem, particularly in South Florida. If cyclists are riding more that two abreast in the roadway, they are violating the law.

When there is are proper bike lanes, cyclists are sometimes required by law to use them, however there are many circumstances in which cyclists are not required to use them. See the other posts about bike lanes on this site.

I Googled your area and could find no bike lanes. A bike lane must have appropriate pavement markings to be a bike lane. What you see is a paved shoulder to the right of the solid white line. Cyclists are never required to use a paved shoulder.

Additionally, it appears the roadway is a substandard-width lane, which is defined as not wide enough for a motor vehicle and a bicycle to safely travel side by side within the lane. According to the Department of Transportation that is anything less than 14 feet.

In such lanes, motorists are required to change lanes to pass a cyclist even if the cyclist is far to the right, and cannot legally or safely pass when there is oncoming traffic. In such lanes, cyclists are not required to keep right and doing so endangers them since motorists will be encouraged to try to unlawfully pass within the lane when there is oncoming traffic. See the posts about Lane Width and Sharing.

In other words, the cyclist may “take the lane” which means moving to the center of the lane to discourage unsafe and unlawful passing.  Cyclists taking the lane in narrow lanes impede traffic but do so lawfully.

Imagine how difficult it would be to pass a line of 50 cyclists riding in line and taking the lane. Even with no oncoming traffic.

These circumstances make it difficult for law enforcement officials to enforce the laws.

When any change such as repaving is made to the roadway, the Department, by law must install bicycle facilities. See the Court of Appeal decision in Rosensweig v. FDOT about bike lanes in Palm Beach County and this statute.

s. 335.065Bicycle and Pedestrian Ways Along State Roads and Transportation Facilities

(1)(a)Bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be given full consideration in the planning and development of transportation facilities, including the incorporation of such ways into state, regional, and local transportation plans and programs. Bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be established in conjunction with the construction, reconstruction, or other change of any state transportation facility, and special emphasis shall be given to projects in or within 1 mile of an urban area.

(b)Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (a), bicycle and pedestrian ways are not required to be established:

  1. Where their establishment would be contrary to public safety;
  2. When the cost would be excessively disproportionate to the need or probable use;
  3. Where other available means or factors indicate an absence of need.

(2)The department shall establish construction standards and a uniform system of signing for bicycle and pedestrian ways.

(3)The department, in cooperation with the Department of Environmental Protection, shall establish a statewide integrated system of bicycle and pedestrian ways in such a manner as to take full advantage of any such ways which are maintained by any governmental entity. For the purposes of this section, bicycle facilities may be established as part of or separate from the actual roadway and may utilize existing road rights-of-way or other rights-of-way or easements acquired for public use.

Considering the above, I have two recommendations:

1. I recommend that you contact your local law enforcement agencies and initiate a program similar to the Ride Right/Drive Right program established in Palm Beach County. See this post:

http://flbikelaw.org/2010/01/riderightdrive-right-campaign/

2. Since bike lanes provide a designated lane, facilitate law enforcement and benefit motorists more than they do cyclists, research the future FDOT plans for the roadway in question to insure that bike lanes are planned when work is scheduled.  Before then, you could ask the Department to remove the solid white edge lines where there is a curb to make what would seem to be a single lane of 14 feet, eliminating the need for cyclists to take the lane since the lane would not be a substandard-width lane and allowing the law to be more easily enforced.

In the meantime, please review the laws related to your circumstances on this site and just understand that passing bicyclists that are riding two or more abreast is easier than passing a line of single cyclists riding legally and taking the lane since passing time is shorter.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Ask Geo, Group Riding
One comment on “A1A Group Rides
  1. Geo says:

    Paul commented:

    Well there is a bike lane. Barton Rd off A1A to Atlantic Blvd. ‎Thanks for your reply. I appreciate it.

    Geo replied:

    Right! I did find them when I checked going south.
    In that case, I suggest contacting the police dept or Sheriff’s Office. If there isn’t a good reason to be out of the bike lane, there is no excuse for doing what they do. They are breaking the law.
    I hate to say it, but you are liable to be met with a lack of interest on the law enforcement side. I’m sure they are already aware of the problem, as they are all over South FL. It isn’t a new problem. The racing crowd has always been like they are. At least that was the case in PB County until we really got going on it. It takes a concerted effort over time.
    You will need to muster a lot of support to get heard. We were eventually partially successful with the Ride Right/Drive Right Campaign and the lawsuit over ten years, but I’m sure there are still problems. i’m not there anymore, so really don’t know. Minimal problems in St. Johns County. Good FDOT support and LE presence.
    i recently heard about the plans to repave A1A in Broward. Lot’s of opposition to bike lanes, just as there was in PBC. Particularly the folks in Hillsboro and north which as you probably know, really needs bike lanes.

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