BMUFL and Narrow Lanes
John asked: Florida State Statute 316.2065 states that bicycles may ride 2 abreast in a single lane but they may not impede the traffic flow. This would mean that the bike the farthest out when traffic approaches from the rear would have to move to the right curb in single file so as not to impede the vehicle flow and give room for the vehicles to safely pass the bikes. But in the City Of Doral, Fl. particularly on NW 114 Avenue in the area of NW 74 Street, the city has created a very dangerous situation. They have posted that the right lane of traffic, both directions on NW 114 Avenue, is a bicycle lane and car lane both. The signs advise the bikes have full use of the entire lane. This clearly gives the bikes the impression that they own the entire lane and may ride two abreast and not have to move over. State law requires them not to impede traffic flow. This sign also gives a single bicycle rider the impression he owns the entire lane and for all practical purposes can ride down the middle of the lane and again impede the the traffic flow of vehicles approaching them from the rear. This will eventually result in a very serious crash or even daily road rage with the cars and bicycles trying to navigate one lane. I have seen the difficulty on a few occasions. For the safety of everyone involved would you agree this needs to be clarified and changed and how to go about it? I would not be comfortable riding in these “dual purpose” lanes they have tried to create.
The signs that are posted only state what the law says; bicyclists in a narrow lane may use the full lane, even without the signs. Narrow is normally less than 14 feet. A driver of a motor vehicle must at least partially change lanes to safely pass a bicycle in a narrow lane, even if the cyclist is riding to the far right. If there is oncoming traffic, or approaching a blind curve, intersection, etc, the motorist must wait.
You are correct that one sentence in the statutes says cyclists riding two abreast may not impede traffic. However, a single cyclist in a narrow lane may take the lane and legally impede traffic. Cyclists in a line in a narrow lane may take the lane and legally impede traffic.
The sentence that says cyclists must not impede traffic and is often taken out of the context of the other statutes that permit a cyclist to take the lane.
For a wide lane, that make perfect sense and your phrase ” bike the farthest out when traffic approaches from the rear would have to move to the right curb” is correct. However, in a narrow lane, whether the single cyclist is legally riding in the center of the lane and legally impeding traffic or two cyclists riding abreast are impeding traffic practically doesn’t make any difference.
If you want to insure you are being technically legal (and safe), two cyclists riding abreast in a narrow lane could single up in the middle of the lane (or anywhere in the lane) and legally impede traffic.
One of the most dangerous things a cyclist can do in a narrow lane is keep far right. That encourages motorists to unlawfully and dangerously attempt to pass within the lane. The cyclist is communicating to the motorist
“I know this lane is too narrow for you to safely pass me, but go ahead and give it a try and we’ll see what happens.”
A cyclist riding in the center or left of a narrow lane is communicating to the motorist
“This lane is too narrow for you to safely and legally pass me, so please wait until you can change lanes to pass”.
The Bicycles May Use Full Lane signs you mention were posted in St. Augustine on the Bridge of Lions, the lanes of which are 12 feet wide. The newspaper introduced the signs and sharrows in articles explaining their meaning. The numerous comments were about the same as your statements, that chaos and carnage would surely follow. To date, two years later, there have been no problems. Cyclists take the lane. Motorists are patient and wait to safely pass.
The signs only state what the law already says. If the lane is narrow, even with no signs posted, cyclists may take the lane and motorists must wait to pass if the adjacent lane is not clear.
See more information and detail in these posts: