Laws Requiring Bike Lanes
Bruce asked: I was under the assumption that when a new road is built or an existing one is repaved, a bike lane has to be added. Is this correct or has the law changed?
The statute that applies is:
s. 335.065 – Bicycle and Pedestrian Ways Along State Roads and Transportation Facilities
(1)(a) Bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be given full consideration in the planning and development of transportation facilities, including the incorporation of such ways into state, regional, and local transportation plans and programs. Bicycle and pedestrian ways shall be established in conjunction with the construction, reconstruction, or other change of any state transportation facility, and special emphasis shall be given to projects in or within 1 mile of an urban area.
(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (a), bicycle and pedestrian ways 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;
3. Where other available means or factors indicate an absence of need.
(2) The department shall establish construction standards and a uniform system of signing for bicycle and pedestrian ways.
(3) The department, in cooperation with the Department of Environmental Protection, shall establish a statewide integrated system of bicycle and pedestrian ways in such a manner as to take full advantage of any such ways which are maintained by any governmental entity. For the purposes of this section, bicycle facilities may be established as part of or separate from the actual roadway and may utilize existing road rights-of-way or other rights-of-way or easements acquired for public use.
Note the use of the term “bicycle ways” and not “bicycle lanes” in the statute. There is no definition for either term in the statutes. The definitions and requirements are in the Department of Transportation (FDOT) directives.
Bicycle Lane: A bicycle lane (bike lane) is a portion of a roadway (either with curb and gutter or a flush shoulder) which has been designated by striping, special pavement markings, and signing for the preferential use by bicyclists.
Bicycle Way: Any road, path or way which by law is open to bicycle travel, regardless of whether such facilities are signed and marked for the preferential use by bicyclists or are to be shared with other transportation modes. Examples include bicycle lanes, paved shoulders, shared use paths, and traffic lanes.
The Department’s Plans Preparation Manual (PPM) and the Florida Greenbook describe the requirements for bike lanes and other bike facilities under specified circumstances.
The PPM applies to state roadways and the Greenbook applies to county and municipality roadways. A legal test of 335.065 as it applies to state roads was ruled in favor of bicyclists in 2008. The Court of Appeal determined that the statute is unambiguous. Another lawsuit was filed to determine the applicability of 335.065 and the Greenbook to a county roadway. I don’t know the specific outcome, but apparently, that statute was determined to apply only to state roadways and not county or municipality roadways.
Chapter 8 of the PPM says that certain bicycle facilities are required depending on the situation. The variables are proximity to an urban area, type of roadway, and whether it is new construction, repaving or intersection improvements. The types of facilities are bicycle lanes, wide curb lanes or paved shoulder.
This site is not the place for a detailed discussion of FDOT standards and requirements. That’s more of an advocacy role as opposed to the legal issues we discuss here. Anyone wanting to learn more may find the PPM on the FDOT website.
Of particular note is that in all chapters relating to bicycle facilities, there is a requirement for the FDOT Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator to provide input to the planning process for all projects. That’s your invitation to get involved on your own or through your Bike/Ped Advisory Committee at the Transportation Planning Organization. County and municipality roadways can also be addressed there.
The key to successful advocacy and involvement in the planning process for bicycle facilities is to get in early. Too often we hear a complaint that they started paving a road and there are no bike facilities. Too late. All planned FDOT projects are in the long range plans for your area. They can be found by searching for FDOT Projects in your district. Five years before implementation is the time for your involvement. Get in early and learn what is planned and know the requirements. Then you can have a meaningful impact on your cycling environment.