Parking in a Bike Lane

Question

David asked: In July on this year my brother was killed in a bicycle accident. He was riding in a neighborhood bike lane, marked as a bike lane with a bicycle and arrow, he ran into a trailer parked in the bike lane. The trailer completely blocked the lane. Apparently he was looking down at the road or the gps, and didn’t see the trailer. He had just come around a right hand turn and then a left turn, and the trailer was there. A witness said he never looked up.

In talking to the investigating officer, he said the bike lane law contradicted it self and it was permissible to park in the bike lane, therefore he was not going to file any charges against the trailer owner. I noticed in this subdivision a few days after the incident other cars parked the bike lane on the opposite side of the street from the accident. Is this correct, or should charges be filed, I understand it will only be a misdemeanor as there are not penalties for blocking a bike lane.

Answer

You have our condolences for your loss.

There is no contradiction in the law. It is quite clear.

s. 316.1945 – Stopping, Standing, or Parking Prohibited in Specified Places

(1) Except when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic, or in compliance with law or the directions of a police officer or official traffic control device, no person shall:

(b) Stand or park a vehicle, whether occupied or not, except momentarily to pick up or discharge a passenger or passengers:

6. On an exclusive bicycle lane.

The only question might be that there is no statutory definition of “bicycle lane” in the traffic statutes, but that is clearly defined in other legal documents. Please see these posts for a full discussion:

http://flbikelaw.org/2009/10/more-on-motor-vehicles-in-bike-lanes/

http://flbikelaw.org/2015/07/parking-in-bike-lanes-3/

The penalty for parking in a bike lane is this:

(4) A violation of this section is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a nonmoving violation

Posted in Ask Geo, Bike Lanes
14 comments on “Parking in a Bike Lane
  1. keithmj says:

    This is one reason why I don’t like bike lanes, I call them feel good lanes. This is also why I think they are a bad idea, they cause more trouble than they fix. They should really have signs that just say “Share the road” if they are going to have any signs.
    I see police cars parked in a bike lane, lawn service vehicles, Postal vehicles, Delivery vehicles. They are parked illegally if they are parked there.
    There should be no lanes set aside for bicycles as they are dangerous when it rains or snows or when other situations are present. They are just a bad idea.
    There are no perfect ways to solve the problem. Hopefully his death will help fix the ones that we have now.
    Other might disagree but I think they should not have them. sorry for your loss

    • Scott Beach says:

      I have to agree, bike lanes only make you feel good and safe, which they may not be. Would it be worthwhile if all commercial vehicles were required to place traffic cones 20 to 25 ft ahead and behind a parked vehicle or trailer when parked on a road or street?. Our local utility trucks routinely place a traffic cone behind them when stopped, even for lunch.

      • Steven Cook says:

        Keith and Scott, I take it you don’t live in Fort Lauderdale. If you did you may have a different opinion on bike lanes. That said, we don’t have many and If what is now being proposed happens, I’ll change my mind and agree with you. Many miles of bike lanes are to be installed near my home. Broward County traffic and FDOT have decided the bike lanes may hold up right turn traffic at lighted intersections. They have changed the plans and are now going to stop bike lanes blocks before intersections and put in shared lane markings.

  2. A rule I’ve always tried to follow as a motorcyclist and cyclist –and which has no doubt saved my life more than once–is to scan the roadway ahead for any conflicts that might arise in the next 10-15 seconds, including any that might be momentarily screened from my view by a moving or parked vehicle, trees or shrubbery, etc.

    The perception that Florida’s “bike lane law” (investigating officer probably had s. 316.2065(5)(a), F.S., in mind) “contradicts itself” is incorrect, but reflects the longstanding confusion that arises from (1) loading s. 316.2065(5)(a) with so many wordy clarifications and exceptions (as needed to make it reasonably practical for cyclists to observe the law in the first place), most people find it impossible to recall exactly what it says without keeping a paper or electronic copy handy, (2) using the heading “Bicycle regulations” for s. 316.2065, which has led many people to infer that any and all regulations related to bicycling are kept in that section, and (3) using inconsistent terminology (“exclusive bicycle lane” in s. 316.1945(1), “lane marked for bicycle use” in s. 316.2065(5)(a).

  3. Geo says:

    Steven,

    I don’t understand the thought process. The bikes will still be there.

    It is somewhat consistent with FDOT Plans Preparation Manual guidance though, which says solid white lines delineating bike lanes should change to dashed lines before intersections to indicate that bicyclists proceeding straight through the intersection should not remain far right and motorists should do as the law requires, and move as far right in the roadway ( a bike lane is part of the roadway) as is practicable and into the bike lane to prepare for the right turn. See this post for the details:

    http://flbikelaw.org/2009/08/138/

    • FDOT has made a number of changes in Standard Index 17347, the design standard that depicts bike lane and shared lane treatments. On an intersection approach with no added right-turn lane, the treatment used to be to “dot” the bike lane stripe for a 50 ft “minimum” in advance of the intersection. In practice, the line was almost never dotted more than 50 ft., and most motorists who wanted to turn right didn’t begin trying to merge into the bike lane until they were close to the intersection; meanwhile, most bike lane users simply continued along the far right. Motorists would sometimes pause or stop in the travel lane to wait for an overtaking cyclist to pass by.

      The new treatment for a bike lane is this situation (with no RT lane) is to dot the bike lane stripe for 150 ft in advance of the intersection. Motorists and cyclists are thereby cued to begin sorting out their order of approach before they reach the intersection, avoiding last-moment delays and surprises.

      If in Broward County the plan is to “stop bike lanes blocks before intersections and put in shared lane markings”, I don’t see how that would reduce delay, relative to continuing the bike lanes as shown in the Design Standards’ “typical” treatments.

      • Steven Cook says:

        Geo, The bike lanes will be 5′ wide, this is a complete streets project of 3 miles of new bike lanes, they will go through 4 downtown neighborhoods. At the 90% receive level of the project the plans have changed. Instead of the bike lanes continuing to all intersections, at 3 they will end the block before. I guess there will be a bike lane ends sign. At that point you are 300 feet before the light, you will have to merge out into one of the through lanes. Present speed limit is 40MPH was to be reduced to 35, hopefully that has not changed. The roadway is 2 lanes in each direction with a median, at the intersection there is a right and left turn lane. Then after the intersection you will go back to a 5′ bike lane.

  4. Geo says:

    Steven,

    It is likely that the lanes will be narrow enough to prohibit motorists from legally and safely traveling side by side within the lane, probably 12 feet at most. That is the definition of a substandard-width lane, one of the exceptions that permits cyclists to leave the right side of the roadway and take the lane to discourage motorists from passing illegally and endangering the cyclist. See this post for details:

    http://flbikelaw.org/2010/01/substandard-width-lanes-updated/

    A public education program may be needed to inform cyclists and motorists of the safe and legal use of the lanes. This may a perfect application of the use of Bicycles May Use Full Lane signs and Sharrows. See this post for more information about that:

    http://flbikelaw.org/2012/03/bicycles-may-use-full-lanes-signs/

    • According to Steven’s post of the 21st, shared lane markings–“sharrows”–will be used at these locations. If the sharrows will be more or less centered in the lanes, the message that a cyclist may use the full lane should be reasonably clear. I agree that [Bicycle] MAY USE FULL LANE signs could provide additional support.

      • keithmj says:

        I ride bikes and I ride on the road, they put the “sharrows” signs on certain sections of some roads and I didn’t even know what they were. I know drivers on these roads have no idea what they are or their meaning. When they honk and yell at a cyclist then they have no idea what the laws mean. Signs and education is needed for all.

      • Unfortunately, agencies have no reliable way to reach all drivers and cyclists with educational messages. Any new pavement markings or roadside signs therefore need to be as self-explanatory as possible. By demonstrating good and consistent practice in their own day-to-day riding, informed cyclists can help to publicize good road-sharing technique.

        Local agencies often try to promote traffic safety tips and new traffic measure on their websites, but only a small percentage of drivers and cyclists are even aware of and take the trouble to find and visit the pages. Competition for public-service-announcement air time is fierce, the media market increasingly fragmented, and resulting coverage spotty. Educational messages can spread through “shares” and posts in social media feeds, but still may never reach people with no particular interest in the topic. Law enforcement officers can share information about laws with road users they interact with, but it’s a slow, labor-intensive process.

        Educational efforts should continue, but cyclists can provide the most visible reminders of good practice by modeling it in their own daily riding. Some motorists may honk or yell, but that behavior subsides with time.

  5. Geo says:

    Dwight and Steven,

    Thanks. I missed that Steven mentioned shared lane markings and sent him other information separately to use to lobby for BMUFL signs and Sharrows with FDOT D4.

  6. Ricardo A Postigo says:

    What about if a cop, with plenty of space almost cuts you, while in a bike lane. What do guys recommend

  7. Geo says:

    On the back of most police vehicles is an identifying number. I suggest taking that and writing a letter to the police chief and describing the circumstances and asking that they educate their officers. If you can’t get any ID, I still recommend writing the letter with time, location, etc.

Leave a Reply