Pedestrians in a Bike lane


Joe asked: While riding with traffic, single file, I often encounter walkers/joggers coming toward me, against the flow of traffic. Question is, who has the “right of way”?


Bike lanes are part of the roadway and are intended for use by bicyclists.

There are a number of posts on this site that show the laws and discuss the details of this subject. This is one:

It is recommended that you treat pedestrians in the roadway as obstacles and, if safe to do so, leave the bike lane to pass them. Bicyclists may always leave the bike lane or the right side of the roadway to avoid any unsafe condition.

The “due care” provisions in the statutes caution against colliding with pedestrians.

5 Comments on “Pedestrians in a Bike lane

  1. Where salmon runners or dog walkers use a bike lane only occasionally, they usually notice an oncoming cyclist and step aside (in my observation), although a few will, so to speak, “stand their ground”. Where salmon runners and walkers are often encountered, there may feel that sidewalk conditions are so impractical for their purposes (e.g., because of gaps, uneven surfaces or other tripping hazards, frequent conflicts with other pedestrian users) that their use of the roadway is justified, and therefore be less inclined to step aside.

    A road user enjoys and can safely exercise right of way only insofar as other road users recognize such right and yield to them. If salmon pedestrians have established such a beachhead in the bike lane that their use now occurs “often”, presumably their numbers are roughly comparable to those of cyclists, and the situation is unlikely to change without active law enforcement intervention (or many more cyclists?). In some places, though, such pedestrian usage has been occurring for years; pedestrians may argue it is tacitly accepted by the authorities, and some pedestrians interpret the provision that requires a driver to exercise “due care” to avoid colliding with a pedestrian to mean that “the pedestrian always has right of way”. They don’t, of course, but salmon pedestrians who don’t step aside for cyclists are likely to prove unreceptive to verbal suggestions that cyclists actually have, or should have, right of way.

    Section 316.2065(5)(a) explicitly allows a cyclist to leave a bike lane so as to “avoid [a] pedestrian”. To avoid risky, last-moment conflicts and swerving that could surprise an overtaking motorist, it is better to prepare a merge into the travel lane well in advance.

  2. I have also observed that law enforcement has differing unstated policies about interactions of various roadway users. In some instances, in-line skaters are accepted in the roadway as legitimate users and in others, the letter of the statutes (No roller skates in the roadway) is strictly enforced. As Dwight indicated, the same unwritten local policies exist with pedestrians in the roadway depending on the circumstances.
    If there are serious conflicts, it is recommended that you address it with local cycling organizations and law enforcement through Bike/Ped groups.

  3. Travel speeds have shown to be reduced by road diet projects. For example, a recent road diet project in Clear Lake, Iowa, shows a 50% reduction in aggressive speeding (aggressive speeding vehicles are vehicles traveling five or more miles per hour over the posted speed limit). Reductions in overall average vehicle speeds often result in less severe and fewer collisions. Road diet benefits for pedestrians and transit users include improved and safer crossing of the street since the number of through-traffic lanes to cross the street is reduced from four to two lanes. In addition, road diets have been shown to reduce speeds, which make pedestrian crossings easier. After the road diet conversion, there is improvement in comfort level and safety for all modes of transportation traveling along the street. Vehicles have a buffer with the addition (re-striping) of a bike lane or on-street parking which moves vehicles further from fixed objects such as utility poles, fire hydrants and other objects. The road diet has been shown to increase uniform traffic flow and reduce collisions from turning movement conflicts. With the addition of bike lanes, bicyclists have a dedicated bike lane and no longer have to travel in a mixed-use vehicle lane. Pedestrians also gain more separation from motorists with the bike lane or on-street parking as a buffer.

  4. After receiving numerous constituent complaints from motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists, Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer today released an unprecedented survey of bike lane safety in Manhattan. The verdict was clear: while bike lanes bring a tremendous benefit to New York City, misuse by all parties—motorists, pedestrians and cyclists—undermines their success.

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