Maintenance of Bike Lanes

Question

Frans asked: Taking the full lane or riding close to the middle. The city has bike lanes at different streets. Good, well they are poorly maintained and most are no longer 4 feet wide. I asked the county to please fix the maintenance several times. Every time a different answer. (Mostly we will work on it) Last one: we are in process of repaving that section of the city. Anyhow that gets me to my question. Since the bike lane is 4 ft or less, can I go ahead and take a full lane next to these so-called bike lanes.

Also I read this:

Allows a bicyclist to take the center of the lane if the lane is less than 14-feet wide and is not adjacent to a bicycle lane that is at least 5 feet wide. Which would implement that I do not have to take any of the bicycle lanes around here because they are barely 4 feet. Am I correct or is the 4-foot rule still in place?

Answer

Lack of maintenance of bike lanes is a common problem, sometimes resulting in grass overgrowth that reduces the bike lane to half or less of its original width.

There is no four-foot rule concerning bike lane width in the statutes. The width of bike lanes varies due to the location and conditions. That is determined by the Florida Department of Transportation guidelines for roadway construction and repair. Normally, four feet is the minimum width allowable. Those design guidelines are not enforceable traffic statutes.

The traffic statutes determine situations in which a bicyclist may leave a bike lane or leave the right side of the roadway and take the lane.

s. 316.2065 – Bicycle Regulations

(5)(a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride in the lane marked for bicycle use or, if no lane is marked for bicycle use, as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:

  1. When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
  2. When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
  3. When reasonably necessary to avoid any condition or potential conflict, including, but not limited to, a fixed or moving object, parked or moving vehicle, bicycle, pedestrian, animal, surface hazard, turn lane, or substandard-width lane, which makes it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge or within a bicycle lane. For the purposes of this subsection, a “substandard-width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.

(b) Any person operating a bicycle upon a one-way highway with two or more marked traffic lanes may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of such roadway as practicable.

Note that there is no mention of the width of a bike lane in the statute. Any decision to legally leave an existing bike lane must be based on the situations above. In this case, the most likely situation would be the presence of a condition that makes it unsafe to remain in the bike lane due to the obstructive overgrowth.

The 14 feet relates to the FDOT defined width of a lane that allows most motor vehicles to safely pass a bicycle within the lane. Anything less than that is a substandard-width lane, an unsafe condition defined in the statute above.

If the bike lane is unsafe for any reason, the law allows leaving it and using other parts of the roadway.

I suggest reading the other posts about bike lanes and substandard-width lanes.

I recommend contacting the roadway agencies and determining exactly who is responsible for maintenance of bike lane after installation. You may also want to contact other agencies that may have an interest such as the Bike/Ped Advisory Committee (BPAC) for the county.

You may also want to contact local bike advocacy groups or bike clubs to get further support for your cause.

Posted in Ask Geo, Bike Lanes, Lane Width & Sharing
3 comments on “Maintenance of Bike Lanes
  1. Frans Andrea says:

    Thank you. I have contacted all agencies in charges of the maintenance of the roads. As well as the local BPAC’s. No success. FDOT gave samr advise.
    I guess this part of Florida just pretends to be Bicycle friendly.
    Thank you.

  2. LEE says:

    Is there an ordinance to keep sidewalks clear of vegetation, when I am forced to ride on sidewalks you have seen what I am talking about and perhaps been swiped by a wet tree branch or a hundred are we allowed to cut then ourselves

  3. Geo says:

    I am not aware of any state statute that controls the maintenance of sidewalk vegetation overgrowth. I am aware of past cases in which visibility was blocked by vegetation resulting in crashes and the persons responsible for the vegetation having lost the law suit. Other conditions could present potential liability.

    You should be aware that sidewalks are intended and maintained for use by pedestrians. We cannot expect the same standards for bicyclists using the sidewalks as for use of the roadways, which are intended for vehicles.

    The Department of Transportation has guidance for the agencies responsible for such maintenance. These are some extracts from the applicable directives.

    FDOT Plans Preparation Manual
    8.3.1 Sidewalks
    Sidewalks are walkways parallel to the roadway and designed for use by pedestrians.
    The minimum width of a sidewalk shall be 5 feet on both curb and gutter and flush shoulder roadways. …. If the sidewalk is located adjacent to the curb, the minimum width of sidewalk is 6 feet.

    Manual of Uniform Minimum Standards for Design, Construction and Maintenance for Streets and Highways
    Maintenance
    F – ESTABLISHMENT OF PROCEDURES
    Standard procedures and methods for maintenance operations should be established for efficient, rapid, and safe completion of the required work …. Each maintenance agency should develop its own Maintenance Manual or
    utilize the Maintenance Manuals of the Department. Such manuals should specify the methods, procedures, equipment, personnel qualifications, and other aspects of the work necessary to ensure successful completion of maintenance operations. Procedures should be developed for emergency, routine, and special operations.
    F.1 Emergency Maintenance
    Emergency maintenance operations are those required to immediately restore the highway to a safe condition.
    Repair or correction of any situation that provides an immediate or
    unexpected hazard to the public
    F.2 Routine Maintenance
    Routine maintenance operations are those that may be predicted and planned in advance. These operations, which may be preventive or corrective in nature, should be conducted on a regularly scheduled basis using standard procedures.
    Inspection and maintenance of pedestrian pavements, crossings, etc., with
    particular emphasis on meeting the intent of ADA

    If a sidewalk has been reduced in usable width for a pedestrian by overgrowth of vegetation, or if some other hazard is present, you should contact the agency having jurisdiction and ask about their maintenance plans as required above, and their intent to resolve the conditions.

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