Riding Abreast

Question

Keegan asked: My brother has been to worlds for triathalons for the past 3 years and we both have had question about his training and we haven’t been able to find answers to them for a long time…he trains a lot and looks for roads with specified bike lanes for safety.
There are rules that are posted but under the bike lane rules, it states that some circumstances are just for a bike to leave the bike lane but it doesn’t specifically state why.
So the specific question would be, on a road with a sufficient lane for cyclists that can ride 2 side by side…is it lawful for a cyclist to right in 3 side by side and enter into the designated roadway for 4 wheeled vehicles? Is it legal for them to use the lane outside of the designated bike lane for any reason “outside” of passing another cyclist? We see it all the time and would like to spread the proper education to other cyclists! Too many times, I’ve seen cyclists get injured and in many situations, it’s because the cyclist is in the wrong but most regulations are vague and fellow cyclists tend to have a more entitled viewpoint, I’ve never understood this because we are more vulnerable and one can argue tooth and nail after a situation but that won’t prevent the accident or injury…proper education can prevent such things…

Answer

Good on you for looking into the applicable laws.

First a couple of corrections.

You are correct that a travel lane is distinguished from a bicycle lane. The travel lane is not just for four-wheeled vehicles. There are many types of vehicles that use the roadway.

TRAFFIC LANE / TRAVELED WAY TRAVEL LANE

A designated width of the roadway exclusive of shoulders and bicycle lanes for the movement of vehicles.

You stated, “…. most regulations are vague…. “.

Although some of the laws related to bicycling are misunderstood, they are not vague and are actually pretty clear if you study them.

For example, cyclists are required to remain in bike lanes under some circumstances. However, there are many exceptions that allow cyclists to leave a bike lane that most do not know or understand.

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.

The last exception gives ample discretion to the cyclist to avoid unsafe conditions that may not be recognized by others, including motorists and some law enforcement.

Riding two abreast is permitted under some circumstances.

(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.

Note that bicyclists may not ride two abreast in more than one lane. A bike lane is a lane.   So the answer to your question above is that riding abreast in a bike lane and the adjacent travel lane is not allowed.

If in a bike lane they may ride 2,3 or more abreast if the width and their skill level permits. See this post for details about riding abreast.

http://flbikelaw.org/2009/07/cyclists-riding-two-abreast/

Your comments about vulnerable users are right on and a concern to us all. FBA is attempting to accomplish legislation to enhance that aspect of cycling and make our roads safer.

https://floridabicycle.org/fba-legislative-platform/

One comment on “Riding Abreast
  1. Geo says:

    I should have also mentioned that the law specifies that a cyclist must remain in a bike lane when traveling “at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing”. Many cyclists can easily ride faster than that and are not required to keep right or in a bike lane. Unfortunately, that speed is not specified and is at the discretion of the cyclist. Most would consider riding at 30 miles per hour in a bike lane to be a hazardous situation due to the proximity of the roadway edge and frequent debris buildup and other hazards on the right side of the road. Obviously, riding at that speed in a “door zone” bike lane is not recommended.

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