Rights and Duties of Cyclists
Ron asked: Does a cyclist give up any rights by riding on the paved shoulder while obeying all statutes? Is the driver of a motor vehicle any less culpable if he or she veers off the road, hitting and killing a cyclist riding there?
If the FHP lists “charges pending the outcome of the investigation,” how can a non-involved individual learn the outcome, and if charges are ever filed?
Culpability would necessarily be determined by all of the factors associated with an incident. The following are some of those.
Cyclists have the same rights and duties as other drivers.
s. 316.2065 – Bicycle Regulations
(1) Every person propelling a vehicle by human power has all of the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle under this chapter, except as to special regulations in this chapter, and except as to provisions of this chapter which by their nature can have no application.
Drivers are required to obey all traffic regulations. There is no statute or any special regulation in s. 316.2065 that either requires a cyclist to use a paved shoulder if it is not marked as a bicycle lane, or prevents the cyclist from doing so. Lacking that, riding a bicycle on a paved shoulder is lawful. The rights and duties of the cyclist are not restricted when using a paved shoulder, if the cyclist is otherwise riding legally.
Note that the statute above does not specify whether or not a cyclist is in the roadway. The paved shoulder is not part of the roadway as defined in the statutes.
s. 316.003 – Definitions
(42) Roadway – That portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the berm or shoulder.
Drivers passing other vehicles have the responsibility to overtake and pass safely.
s. 316.085 – Limitations on Overtaking, Passing, Changing Lanes and Changing Course
(2) No vehicle shall be driven from a direct course in any lane on any highway until the driver has determined …. that the move can be completely made with safety ….
Drivers overtaking and passing bicyclists have the additional requirement to pass no less than three feet from the cyclist. The statute does not limit that requirement to cyclists in the roadway.
s. 316.083 – Overtaking and Passing a Vehicle
(1) …. The driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle must pass the bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle at a safe distance of not less than 3 feet between the vehicle and the bicycle or other nonmotorized vehicle.
Clearly, the driver of a motor vehicle that leaves the roadway and strikes a bicyclist that is lawfully riding on a paved shoulder has violated those statutes.
Records of traffic incidents are a matter of public record and can be obtained at the appropriate department. They may be redacted to remove personal information. They may also be held for some period of time during an investigation.
To obtain information or the status of a particular case, I suggest contacting the FHP to determine the best way to proceed. You can contact the FHP at this email address: www.flhsmv.gov