Yielding to Backed Up Traffic
Laura asked: In Florida, is it law that cyclists (and I presume motorists) must pull off the road when practicable, when a certain number of vehicles are following behind them in a non-passing zone? As a young driver of an older car in California, I knew of such a law there. Is there a counterpart in Florida?
The California law to which you refer is this:
V C Section 21656 Turning Out of Slow Moving Vehicles
Turning Out of Slow-Moving Vehicles
6. On a two-lane highway where passing is unsafe because of traffic in the opposite direction or other conditions, a slow-moving vehicle, including a passenger vehicle, behind which five or more vehicles are formed in line, shall turn off the roadway at the nearest place designated as a turnout by signs erected by the authority having jurisdiction over the highway, or wherever sufficient area for a safe turnout exists, in order to permit the vehicles following it to proceed. As used in this section a slow-moving vehicle is one which is proceeding at a rate of speed less than the normal flow of traffic at the particular time and place.
There is no such law in Florida, but we recommend that cyclists be aware of these situations and consider safely moving to a position that allows backed up traffic to pass.
Florida law permits crossing the double yellow center line when an obstruction exists if the adjacent lane is clear.
s. 316.0875 – No Passing Zones
(2) …. no driver shall at any time drive on the left side of the roadway with such no-passing zone ….
(3) This section does not apply when an obstruction exists making it necessary to drive to the left of the center of the highway ….
We believe a slow moving bicycle would be considered an obstruction.
It should be noted that a motorist cannot legally or safely pass a cyclist while remaining fully in a substandard-width lane even if the cyclist is riding far to the right. See the posts on “Lane Width and Sharing”.
See these posts about no-passing zones:
The likely reason such a law doesn’t exist in Florida is the lack of mountains.
I occasionally notice several vehicles queuing behind me at a red light. This typically happens on a multilane roadway without bike lanes, when I have been one of the first in the outside through lane to arrive at the red light. If I notice a queue, then when the light turns green I (usually) ride across the intersection to the far corner, go up a curb ramp onto the sidewalk, wait for the line of cars to pass, then reenter the roadway.
It’s not required in Florida, but if I didn’t do this, the drivers who were stacked behind me would be limited to my riding speed as we moved forward until, one by one, they could find gaps in the next lane of traffic to enter that lane and pass me; in heavy traffic, it can take some time for a long queue to change lanes and pass.
In lighter traffic (mid-morning, early afternoon, etc.), when only a couple of vehicles queue behind me at a red light, I may stay in the lane; after the light turns green their drivers can usually pass me in the next lane without much difficulty.