Local Authorities and Sidewalk Cycling
Jeff asked: What is the statute and requirements whereby municipalities and cities such as St. Augustine may prohibit bicycles from being ridden on sidewalks?
Local authorities may regulate bicyclists on sidewalks, including prohibiting their use of sidewalks altogether.
s. 316.008 – Powers of Local Authorities
(1) The provisions of this chapter shall not be deemed to prevent local authorities, with respect to streets and highways under their jurisdiction and within the reasonable exercise of the police power, from:
(h) Regulating the operation of bicycles
A municipality may regulate bicycles only on sidewalks under their jurisdiction. For example, a municipality may not impose regulations on sidewalks of highways under state jurisdiction, but can do so for its city sidewalks. An example is the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine which is part of a state highway within the city limits boundary of St. Augustine. Bicycles are permitted on the bridge even though there is a city ordinance prohibiting sidewalk cycling.
Local authorities may not require bicyclists to use the sidewalk instead of the roadway. See this post:
There’s some disagreement on whether cities can ban bikes from state road sidewalks. See the comments here: http://www.transitmiami.com/bicycles/bal-harbour-no-bicycle-allowed-on-sidewalk-ordinance-conflicts-with-state-statue
FDOT says it’s OK, though that doesn’t mean they’re correct (c.f. FHP claiming you can’t cross a single white line).
The ambiguity about the power of local authorities to prohibit bicycle riding on sidewalks is a consequence of the state’s use (with modifications) in the 1970s and early 1980s of portions of the Uniform Vehicle Code (national model vehicle code) related to traffic regulation, without regard to subsequent revisions of the UVC.
In 1971 the state adopted the “Florida Uniform Traffic Control Law”, based on the 1968 edition of the UVC. Chapter 15 of the UVC (“Respective powers of state and local authorities”) included a list of “Powers of local authorities” in section 15-102. This was used as the basis of Section 316.008, F.S. One of the powers of local authorities (“with respect to streets and highways under their jurisdiction”) listed in the model provision that the Legislature chose to adopt was “Regulating the operation of bicycles”.
At the time, the UVC had no model regulation pertaining to the use of bicycles on sidewalks. In 1975 the national committee that maintained the UVC adopted such a regulation (s. 11-1210, “Bicycles and human powered vehicles on sidewalks”).
In 1983, when the Legislature substantially amended various sections of chapter 316 relating to the use of bicycles, the updated UVC was consulted. The new UVC regulation re bicycles on sidewalks was incorporated in s. 316.2065. As we know, this includes the provision that
“A person propelling a vehicle by human power upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, has all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.”
Subsequently, in either the 1986 or 1992 UVC revisions, the national committee that maintained the UVC apparently noticed the inconsistency between (1) its various regulations for bicycles (in chapter 11, “Rules of the Road”) and (2) the inclusion of “Regulating the operation of bicycles” among the powers of local authorities (in chapter 15). The wording of the latter provision was changed to “Regulating the parking of bicycles and adult tricycles”.
Big difference in meaning, obviously. For whatever reason, the Legislature did not perceive a need to resolve the inconsistency. Many Florida municipalities had adopted local ordinances that prohibited riding a bicycle on sidewalks in the “central business district” (defined in various ways). These ordinances were usually not much enforced, and in recent years a number of cities have rescinded them. In some municipalities, though, they remain on the books.
In s.316.2065 doesn’t the bicycle on the side walk have to yield to the pedestrian?
s. 316.2065 – Bicycle Regulations
(10) A person propelling a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian.
FYI I bicyce through Bal Harbour often and I recently noticed that the signs prohibiting bicycles on the sidewalk have been removed. I called the Bal Harbour Police Department and confirmed that bicycles are now allowed on the sidewalks.
I suggest that you contact the police again and ask them about this ordinance that is still in the city codes. Is it to be changed? Maybe the Muni Codes have not been updated?
ARTICLE II. – OPERATION OF VEHICLES
Sec. 19-27. – Operation on Sidewalks, jogging path.
It shall be unlawful to operate a bicycle, tricycle, moped or motorized vehicle on the Village jogging path or on any Sidewalk within the Village.
You can see all the city codes by searching on “Bal Harbour FL Muni Codes”.