Sidewalk Cycling in Marathon

Question

Tom asked: In Marathon, Fl sheriff deputies have been issuing warnings to bicyclist for traveling on the sidewalk against the direction of traffic. I can find no ordinance to support their position. Am I missing something?

Answer

Lacking a local ordinance to the contrary, of which I can find none for Marathon or Monroe County, the state statutes apply. Bicyclists have the same rights and duties as pedestrians when on a sidewalk. Although it would be safer to travel in the same direction as roadway traffic for a number of reasons, there is no designated direction of travel in the statutes.

s. 316.2965 – Bicycle Regulations

(9) A person propelling a vehicle by human power upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, has all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.

(10) A person propelling a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian.

Be aware that a bicyclist is still operating a vehicle on a sidewalk and must comply with applicable statutes such as DUI, open container, lights, helmets, etc.

I suggest contacting the Sheriff’s Office with this information and asking the purpose and basis legal for the warnings.

3 comments on “Sidewalk Cycling in Marathon
  1. HarryB says:

    The OP might consider asking the Sheriff’s Office if it has been issuing warnings and citations to motorists who fail to come to a complete stop before crossing the sidewalk as required by § 316.125(2), Fla. Stat.: “The driver of a vehicle emerging from an alley, building, private road or driveway within a business or residence district shall stop the vehicle immediately prior to driving onto a sidewalk or onto the sidewalk area extending across the alley, building entrance, road or driveway . . . and shall yield to all vehicles and pedestrians which are so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard.”

    The constant blaming of bicyclists who are exercising their right to ride their bicycles upon sidewalks is part of the reason why Florida continues to be the most dangerous state in the nation in which to ride or walk. Even FDOT gets on the victim blaming bandwagon (or maybe it’s leading it) as evidenced by this statement on its official website: “Sidewalks are NOT a bike facility! Statistically, sidewalks are one of most crash-prone places to ride. Motorists aren’t looking for fast-moving cyclists on the sidewalks at intersections, and the sidewalks themselves aren’t designed to be shared with cyclists.” [1]

    It is the full responsibility of the *motorist* to stop before entering the sidewalk, and only after stopping and yielding to sidewalk users who might be endangered may they proceed across the sidewalk. If motorists obeyed the law, there would not be any motor vehicle/bicycle crashes on sidewalks.

    [1] https://www.fdot.gov/roadway/bikeped/BikePedBF.shtm

  2. Steven says:

    From a safety standpoint the officer is correct. If you ride on a sidewalk opposing traffic a motorist entering a street usually does not look in the opposite direction or if they do no father than they expect a pedestrian to be. That said I ride on either side depending on where I am going but when I cross a street I always make sure the driver sees me before crossing or I go behind their vehicle.

    • HarryB says:

      You wrote: “From a safety standpoint the officer is correct.”

      If the OP accurately described the situation, I submit that the deputies are in violation of the law. As Geo showed, if it is legal to ride on the sidewalk, it is not illegal to ride “against traffic”, so a deputy who detains a bicyclist just because he or she thinks it is safer to ride with the flow of traffic on the adjacent roadway has violated that person’s Fourth Amendment right to be protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. And if the sheriff’s office has a policy to stop and write warnings it would constitute harassment of bicyclists who are not violating the law. Is there any bicycle organization in the state that is willing to investigate this?

      The legislature, not the sheriff, has the authority to create laws, and if the legislature feels it is unsafe for bicyclists to ride against the flow of traffic on the adjacent roadway, it should adopt such laws. But, instead of designing sidewalks for bicyclists as well as pedestrians, as the legislature clearly intended them to be used, jurisdictions have successfully frustrated the clearly stated intention of the legislature by designing them only for pedestrians. And then they criticize bicyclists for exercising their right to ride away from the dangers of motorized traffic.

      You also wrote: “If you ride on a sidewalk opposing traffic a motorist entering a street usually does not look in the opposite direction or if they do no father than they expect a pedestrian to be.”

      This motorist has violated state law because, as I noted in my previous post, the motorist “. . . shall yield to all vehicles and pedestrians (on the sidewalk) which are so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard.” If the deputies are really concerned about the safety of bicyclists they will target the people who violate the law and create the hazardous condition such as the motorist you mentioned—the bicyclist did not create the hazard!

      (This next comment might be relevant to the OP’s question: A couple of years ago I asked the local sheriff’s office for the number of crosswalk violation citations written in the county during the previous year because I was attempting to address the rampant violation of the right of pedestrians and bicyclists to cross the roadway in crosswalks. It turns out that only one had been written, and the officer who wrote the citation described the situation. The person had crossed a busy highway some distance from the crosswalk by walking between the cars that had stopped for the nearby traffic signal. Because the closest intersection in the other direction is not signalized, the person was not in violation of any statute or local ordinance, and yet he was cited for “crossing outside of the crosswalk”. I realized this was a bogus citation, and when I did a little investigation I learned the sheriff’s office considered this person to be a “problem child”.)

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