Normal Speed of Traffic
Herman also asked: Does the following apply even if the person riding a bicycle is the only traffic on the road?
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 ….
The phrase “normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing” is not defined in the statutes and as far as I know, has not been the subject of case law or legal opinion that is applicable to bicycling.
Contrary to popular belief, bicyclists are vehicles and traffic.
s. 316.003 – Definitions
(2) Bicycle – Every vehicle propelled solely by human power
(75) Vehicle – Every device, in, upon, or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a highway
(57) Traffic – Pedestrians, ridden or herded animals, and vehicles, streetcars, and other conveyances either singly or together while using any street or highway for purposes of travel.
The intent of the “keep right” provisions of the Bicycle Regulations” is clear. Slower-moving bicyclists should not impede traffic under some circumstances.
A common sense reading of that phrase would indicate that the only existing traffic, the bicyclist, would be the normal speed of traffic at the time and therefore would not have to remain in the lane marked for bicycles or the right side of the roadway since there is no impediment to other traffic.
The statutes seem to dictate that bicyclists should use bike lanes when present, lacking cause. If there is a need to leave the bike lane or right side of a roadway without bike lanes to pass, prepare for a left turn, or avoid any unsafe condition, the statute is clear that it is legal to do so.
I am aware of one case in which it was argued that the normal speed of traffic is the posted speed limit. I believe roadway agencies in some cases use 85% of the average motor vehicle speed as the posted speed limit, arguing that posted speeds lower than that encourage dangerous passing by frustrated drivers. Is the “normal speed of traffic” actually higher than that posted?
The question could also be posed as one motorist traveling in the presence of a group of 100 bicyclists, or one bicyclist and one motorist. What is the “normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing?”
As far as I know it is not definitively decided, but any reasonable approach to the question should reveal a common sense answer, that bicyclists that are not impeding other traffic are not violating this statute.
See also the other posts at this link.