Remain One Foot from Curb?

Question

Dylan asked: What do I say when a police officer tells me that I must stay within 12 inches of the curb?

Answer

There is no law that states that a cyclist must remain a specified distance from the curb. The law says that under some circumstances a cyclist must remain as close as is practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway or in a bike lane if present.

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.

Staying within one foot of a curb is very difficult and potentially unsafe. Hence the many exceptions above. A full discussion of the “substandard-width lane” mentioned above is here:

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

I suggest writing a letter with this information and the officer’s badge number to the police chief and asking that they educate their officers about the laws related to bicycling.  They are free to use this site for their training material.

Posted in Ask Geo, Bike Paths, Rights & Duties
2 comments on “Remain One Foot from Curb?
  1. phil Leinbach says:

    A few years ago I saw a segment on an Orlando news report presented by the Orlando police. They said not to ride next to the curb or white line because it encouraged cars to “skim past” bicycles rather then going out and around them properly. Who is correct?

  2. Geo says:

    Phil,

    That is correct for narrow lanes. Riding too far right in a narrow lane encourages drivers to try to pass when there is not room. See the post about substandard-width lanes for a full explanation.

    If the lane is wide enough for a motorist and bicyclist to safely travel side by side, there is no need to take the lane unless one of the exceptions in the post above exists and keeping right (but not one foot from curb) is advised.

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