Bike Lanes Required?
Peter asked: Need some help here in Osceola County. A beautiful new road – Narcoosee Rd., is a disaster in the works. Traveling south from Orange County on Narcoosee Rd, the bike lane is fully IAW Florida Law. When you hit Osceola County there is an end of bike path sign and the Bike Path signs switch to the right of the sidewalk and the painted bikes on the road disappear, road remains the same.
I’ve made one call to a very helpful county employee who is knowledgeable about bike laws but she has been told by her higher ups that since parts of the sidewalk are eight feet wide its actually a “multi-use path.” She is as perplexed as myself. How can this be?
If I am reading your question correctly, the roadway was rebuilt and only included bike lanes for part of the project. The required roadway pavement markings and optional roadway signs should indicate “Bike Lane”. Signs for off-roadway paths may read “Bike Path”, but not “Bike Lane”, since they are not part of the roadway.
Let’s define the applicable terms. Only one is actually in the statutes.
s. 316.003 – Definitions
(63) Bicycle Path – Any road, path, or way that is open to bicycle travel, which road, path, or way is physically separated from motorized vehicular traffic by an open space or by a barrier and is located either within the highway right-of-way or within an independent right-of-way.
The other terms are in Department of Transportation Manuals
FDOT Plans Preparation Manual
Glossary of Terms
3. 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 and special pavement markings for the preferential use by bicyclists.
4. 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.
Definition of Terms
Shared Use Path – Facilities on exclusive right of way with minimal cross flow by motor vehicles. Users are non-motorized and may include but are not limited to: bicyclists, in-line skaters, wheelchair users (both non- motorized and motorized), and pedestrians.
I could not find a definition of a “multi-use” path, but the term is commonly used for shared use path.
The statute that requires inclusion of bicycle facilities in roadway projects is this.
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.
There are exceptions in the law.
Note the use of the term “bicycle ways” in this statute. The definition in FDOT guidelines was added after Rosenzweig v. FDOT, which bicyclists won at the Court of Appeal.
Although I’m not exactly sure what you are describing, it appears that the decision was made to not continue bicycle lanes, which are part of the roadway, and use the shared use path as a bicycle facility to comply with 335.065 above.
As a bicyclist, you are not really affected since you can legally use the bike lane where it exists, the roadway where there is no bike lane, the sidewalk, or the shared use path.
There is no requirement to use the sidewalk, shared use path or a bicycle path, even if they are adjacent to the roadway. Bicycles are vehicles and their drivers are always entitled to use the roadway.
Conversely, even if a bike lane exists, a bicyclist may lawfully use the sidewalk, shared use path or bike path instead. There are many other posts on this site that discuss bicyclists’ rights and duties.
This is an example of the reason to become aware of and involved in roadway planning early in the process. Five years ahead is required to be influential in the planning process. If you believe it is important to continue he bike lanes along the roadway, you should contact your local authorities through your County Commission, Bike/Ped Advisory Committee or bike club.
The standard Bike Lane sign is the R3-17 sign shown in the figure at http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/htm/2009/part9/fig9b_02_longdesc.htm . Use of this sign is no longer required to designate a bicycle lane; a lane on a roadway that had standard bicycle lane symbol markings but no Bike Lane signs would still be a bicycle lane. However, if the Bike Lane sign is used, it shall be used “only in conjunction with marked bicycle lanes” (MUTCD 9B.04 P01). As “Bicycle lane” is defined in the MUTCD (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices) as “a portion of a roadway…”, a paved way that is not part of a roadway would not be a bicycle lane.