Bicycle Groups and Bike Lanes

Question

Elizabeth asked: Every weekend there are cyclists that gather in large numbers. They clump together spilling out of the bike lane and blocking at least half of the road. This requires vehicles to drive at a snails pace until they can reach a safe passing area. Shouldn’t they be riding in single or double file to not come out of the bike lane? Is blocking the flow of traffic legal?

Answer

A bicyclist impeding other traffic is not necessarily unlawful under certain circumstances. For example in narrow lanes, when passing another vehicle, when traveling at the normal speed of traffic, and when the bike lane or right side of the road is unsafe for any reason. See this post:

http://flbikelaw.org/2010/05/bicycles-impeding-traffic/

If bike lanes are present and none of the conditions above exist, they are violating the law if they are riding outside the bike lane.

http://flbikelaw.org/2011/04/bike-lanes-2/

In any case, bicyclists may not ride more than two abreast under any circumstances and then must ride within a single lane, the bike lane in this case.

s. 316.2065 – Bicycle Regulations

(6) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway may not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Persons riding two abreast may not impede traffic when traveling at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing and shall ride within a single lane.

Posted in Ask Geo, Bike Lanes, Impeding Traffic
10 comments on “Bicycle Groups and Bike Lanes
  1. john tanner says:

    Groups of cyclist are not required to stay in the bicycle lane if it is not safe. Riding 2 abreast is legal in all 50 states the last time I checked. These groups of cyclist are usually riding at 20-30 miles per hour. This pace is not a snails pace . Many elderly drivers, heavy equipment, trucks , tourist drive much slower than 20 mph. Enjoy sitting is your 5000 lb. auto polluting the environment ; you will arrive at your destination with the right attitude.

    • The one who moves over says:

      You can carry the 1200lbs of equipment I carry to every job, and then I will more than happily ride my bike to work. Come down off the soapbox and understand that most people need a car (including the bike manufacturer that built the bike and shipped it to the store of your choosing)

  2. Geo says:

    John,

    The scenario Elizabeth describes has cyclists riding abreast in the bike lane and spilling over into the travel lane, an unlawful action. Riding abreast in more than one lane, such as the bike lane and the travel lane as described, is never allowed, nor is riding three or more abreast outside a bike lane.

    Certainly some cyclists can ride at higher speeds, however there is no indication these cyclists are traveling at the normal speed of traffic under the conditions existing, the requirement under the law if none of the other exceptions are present.

    Riding two abreast is allowed only under certain circumstances as indicated above.

  3. Steve says:

    I have ridden in a few group rides that would end up on a street with bike lanes. I have seen what Elizabeth described. In many cases the constant flow of riders into the travel lanes were cyclist passing other cyclist, which is a perfectly legal reason to leave the bike lane. I’m a little confused about comment on riding abreast in a bike lane, I don’t of any regulations.

  4. Geo says:

    Steve,

    You are correct that leaving a bicycle lane to pass (and for many other reasons) is perfectly legal as long as it is done so safely. There are laws about moving left or right in the roadway. See other posts.

    You stated:
    “I’m a little confused about comment on riding abreast in a bike lane, I don’t of any regulations.”

    The following from the above indicates there is no restriction to riding two, three, four or more abreast in a bike lane, which is part of the roadway. In the typical four-five foot bike lane there is usually not sufficient width for more than two abreast.

    “Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway may not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles.”

  5. Keithmj says:

    From what I read is that no matter how wide the road or bike lane, legally you are not allowed to ride more than two abreast, just like motorcycles. If the road is 12′ wide or substandard you have use of the whole lane but you still can not ride more than two abreast. Most bike lanes here only one bike will fit. And if they can go around you are not impeding traffic. I take the lane when riding on narrow roads and streets for safety unless they have a bike lane, which I hate and is a sense of false security.

    • Steve says:

      Keith, I have always ridden to the side unless I fear getting hit, then I will take the lane. The last time I took the lane a car hit me, not because he did not see me, but because he was racing other cars to be first to the red light. I have ridden bikes my whole life except for a few years. I am older so I have seen a lot. Never have I seen a disregard for human life as I now see in South Florida. The last two times I was hit was a block before an intersection and the light was red. If cars can get by you they will otherwise you get hit, very few will change lanes.

      I promote bike lanes as the safest place to ride. There are only two ways to go east and west near my house, to get to the beach. Sunrise Blvd and 17th Street the first has over 40,000 cars a day and the latter has over 60,000 cars a day. The police are not proactive in any way shape or form. The city manager said then when the state took over the court system they took the revenue so the city only gets $9 a ticket. It cost them money to write a ticket.

      I drove to HD a mile away the day of our boat parade to get lights for the balcony. In that distance I saw to cars at red lights just drive off, not wanting to wait and knowing they would not get a ticket. The problem is we don’t have enough bike lanes.

      The state just did a 3R project on the above mentioned Sunrise Blvd. they were required to put in bike lanes but refused. The local director for FDOT Howard Webb said to me, we cant reduce lane width for a bike lanes as drivers need wider travel lanes because they eat, text and do other things.

  6. Keithmj says:

    Steve, I feel your pain. The same is happening in my area. I use the bike lanes because I am required too but some drivers don’t care about bike lanes, some even go around other vehicles using the bike lanes to do it. We just have to be extra careful and figure just because we have the right of way that we might not get it.
    Sometime I would think that the police are told not to enforce any of the laws by not stopping any vehicles as it creates a backup on the roadways and it causes accidents.Just be careful out there.

  7. YL says:

    Hi, I’m a concerned citizen. I obey and respect all people running, motorcycles, bicycles. However, I encountered a situation for which I do not know how to proceed. There is a group that basically closes the roads and they race blocking off several streets. I was very scared because as I was make a left turn after stopping and saw several like 10 or more bicycle coming my way to make a turn. I had to speed up as to avoid a fatal crash. After this incident I went over and spoke to the people and basically told them that they should try to do it in safer place like a park because as a driver you may not be able to stop when 20 bicycles are coming your way especially if they are not following the traffic signs. Is basically if 20 cars where coming my way. I just want to know if i should let someone in the city know i just fear a huge accident coming or injury. This is a normal route for me so I encountered the same scenario this past weekend should I notifying someone about this?

  8. Geo says:

    YL,
    it sounds like they are violating the law. I would guess that they have a set schedule for their activities. Call the police or go to the station and file a report. If you are on scene when it happens, call 911 as it seems to be an emergency situation that needs immediate attention.

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