Authority to Block Bike Lane

Question

Ashley asked: Today I was riding my bicycle in the bike lane down a busy, one way street. The street consists of two lanes and one bike lane. Police had blocked off the lane nearest to the bike lane with a cone and were doing some sort of survey work (I think). However, the bike lane was not blocked, so I slowed down but continued to ride as there was nothing happening in the actual bike lane and it seemed safer than funneling into traffic. The police were not happy and told me they had, “blocked off the road for a reason”. I apologized and got out of the way. While I do understand cyclists must follow all traffic laws just as a car would, I’m confused about whether I was in the wrong or not? It seems to me they could have indicated that the bike lane was closed too?

Answer

It is difficult to tell if any specific laws apply.  There is not enough information to make a determination about the situation.

In an ideal world, we could stop and ask the officer to explain the circumstances and any laws that apply and whether the bike lane is really closed if a cone is in the roadway.  Unfortunately, it is difficult to establish a constructive dialogue since officers are not usually very receptive if they feel their authority is being questioned.

Your other option is to ask that a supervisor be requested to discuss the orders given by the original officer.

3 comments on “Authority to Block Bike Lane
  1. Herman F. Ebeling, Jr. says:

    Along these lines, is it legal in Florida for say lawn care crews to park in the bike lane, thus blocking it. So as to avoid making a mess in their customer’s driveways, because their trucks are not properly maintained and are leaking?

  2. Geo says:

    No.

    s. 316.1945 – Stopping, Standing, or Parking Prohibited in Specified Places

    (1) Except when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic, or in compliance with law or the directions of a police officer or official traffic control device, no person shall:

    (b) Stand or park a vehicle, whether occupied or not, except momentarily to pick up or discharge a passenger or passengers:

    6. On an exclusive bicycle lane.

    In one jurisdiction, the authorities added “No Parking” signs to the bike lane signs to clarify that the practice is not legal for those not familiar with the law.

    One person stated that he placed cards on the vehicles stating the law and that it helped the situation.

    If it is a persistent problem, advise the local police and ask that they enforce the law and ask the roadway authorities to add signs as above.

  3. Herman F. Ebeling, Jr. says:

    Thank you, a few years ago, at about the same time that the city of St. Petersburg was redoing the bike lanes along 30th Ave N. I had encountered lawn care crews that regularly parked in the bike lane. I would call the police non-emergency line to report it. But because more often than not I was on my way to the VA so I couldn’t wait for them to show up. One time I was on my way home and had the time to wait. A police officer shows up and tells me to my face that he had NO intention of writing a ticket and that they had “special permission” to park in the bike lane. When I pointed out because of the fact that said equipment did not fit within the bike lane that cars were fully changing lanes. His response was that they were being “too cautious.” He did agree to ask that they move into their customers driveway, I don’t know if he actually did so or not.

    I no longer regularly travel on 30th Ave N, as to do so would take me out of my way. And when I have been on it, I haven’t encountered anyone for any lawn care crews parking in the bike lane.

    How should one respond to a police officer who is clearly refusing to do their job?

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