Bike Lanes Required?

Question

Anon asked: The Palmer Ranch Association in Sarasota County is proposing a large community center on Palmer Ranch Parkway where there is NOT a bike lane. From what I see from the plans NO bike lane is under consideration at the Planning Commission’s Public Hearing on Dec 1st. I see this as a real safety issue. Can you tell me what Florida Statute applies as to the need or requirement for a bike lane? This area is well used by bikers as we have a long bike/walking trail called ‘The Legacy Trail’ nearby and bikers come and go and use this piece of roadway from all directions. I plan to speak at the Public Hearing as the proposed community center requires a ‘Land Use Change’. It is presently zoned for single family homes only. Any help much appreciated.

Answer

Bicycle facilities are required when any change is made to a state roadway. See this post:

http://flbikelaw.org/2012/06/bike-lanes-required/

It appears that Palmer Ranch Parkway is a county or municipality roadway and not a state roadway and is not guided by the mandatory requirements of s. 335.065. Rather, it is controlled by the Florida Greenbook.

In 335.065, the word “shall” is used. Note the use of “should” in the Greenbook. Also note the use of the term “are not required” when discussing exceptions. I’m not sure how to interpret that.

Clearly, FDOT is trying to convey that bike facilities are desirable and should be given full consideration in planning roadways.

Manual of Uniform Minimum Standards

for Design, Construction and Maintenance

for Streets and Highways (Florida Greenbook)

CHAPTER 9

BICYCLE FACILITIES

A INTRODUCTION

Bicycle facilities should be given full consideration in the planning and development of transportation facilities, including the incorporation of such facilities into state, regional, and local transportation plans and programs under the assumption that transportation facilities will be used by cyclists. Bicycle facilities should be established in conjunction with the construction, reconstruction, or other change of any transportation facility and special emphasis should be given to projects in or within 1 mile of an urban area.

The provision for bicycle facilities is also desirable for resurfacing, restoration & rehabilitation (RRR) projects.

Bicycle and pedestrian facilities are not required to be established:

  1. Where their establishment would be contrary to public safety;
  2. When the cost would be excessively disproportionate to the need or probable use; or and
  3. Where other available means or factors indicate an absence of need.

Appropriately designed and located bicycle facilities play an important role in supporting bicycle travel. Bicyclists should be considered in all phases of transportation planning, design, construction and maintenance activities. Particular emphasis should be given to new construction, reconstruction, intersection improvement, and transit projects. Bicycle facilities can include bicycle lanes, paved shoulders, wide curb lanes, shared lanes, shared use paths, and bicycle parking facilities.

You can see the full chapter on bike facilities in this link. You may have to copy and paste the link to your browser. Otherwise, it takes forever to load.

http://www.fdot.gov/roadway/floridagreenbook/2016-DRAFT-FGB.pdf

You may want to remind the planners that bicyclists, with few exceptions, have the same rights and duties as other drivers.

s. 316.2065Bicycle Regulations

(1) Every person propelling a vehicle by human power has all of the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle

Lacking bike lanes, bicyclists are not required to use paved shoulders and will be in the roadway. When narrow lanes (less than 14 feet wide) are present, the lane is considered a substandard-width lane, and bicyclists are not required to keep right.

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:.

3. When reasonably necessary to avoid any condition or potential conflict, including, but not limited to, …. 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.

Bicycle lanes are not just for bicyclists. They tend to provide separation between bicycles and motor vehicles. In narrow lanes, one of the most dangerous things a bicyclist might do is keep right, encouraging unsafe and illegal passing within the lane by motorists.

Lacking bike lanes, there will be traffic conflicts.

For the details about substandard-width lanes, see this post.

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

If there are no bicycle lanes in narrow roadways, you may also want to ask the planners to consider the use of Bicycles May Use Full Lane signs and Sharrows. See this post:

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

Posted in Ask Geo, Bike Lanes

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