Bike Path Crosswalk
Harry asked: Recently the city of Inverness, FL redesigned a major crossing of the Withlacoochee State Trail which I fear has increased the danger for trail users who are attempting to cross N Apopka Ave. I’m hoping you can help me understand if these changes have resulted in a crossing that is no longer a legal mid-block crosswalk.
In the past, this trail’s crossing was like the three dozen or so other mid-block crossings with white lines delineating the crosswalk, and pedestrian crossing signs facing motorists. (Stop signs also face trail users, but those signs do not determine who must yield the right-of-way at the crossings.) At these crossings, motorists are required to yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be, to allow pedestrians (and bicyclists) who have entered the crosswalk to cross the roadway. (316.2065(9) and 316.130 (7)(c), F.S.)
Recently the city renovated part of this road and replaced the pedestrian crossing sign with a Cross Alert System . This system consists of a BICYCLE CROSSING sign and a flashing amber beacon facing motorists, and a stop sign and flashing red beacon facing trail users. Both flashing beacons are passively activated by approaching trail users.
The city also replaced the asphalt crosswalk with brick pavers contained within an unpainted concrete border. Although this does not appear to meet the legal description of a crosswalk (12″ parallel white lines), I’ve seen them in so many places I assume they are considered legal crosswalks. But are they?
It seems to me that the replacement of the pedestrian crossing sign with a bicycle crossing sign means this is no longer a legal mid-block pedestrian crossing. I can find nothing in the Florida Statutes which requires a driver to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian or bicyclist who is trying to cross the roadway when the sign informs the driver he is approaching a “bicycle crossing”. According to the Florida Driver Handbook, “This sign warns you in advance that a bikeway crosses the roadway ahead”, unlike the pedestrian sign which warns drivers to “Watch for people crossing the street. Slow down or stop if necessary.”
The upshot of all of this, I believe, is that any trail user who wishes to cross Apopka Ave must yield the right-of-way to motorists because this is no longer a legal crosswalk. (316.130 (10), F.S.)
(10) Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.
I believe this change, favoring motorists, is intentional by those who market the Cross Alert System. Please note this quote from their FAQ
 “Does the Cross Alert device alter traffic flow? Absolutely not. Our intersection systems reinforce existing Right of Way rules for recreational trails and pedestrian crosswalks, which typically require the person crossing the road to yield the Right of Way to vehicles at intersections. This sign is a warning system that raises the awareness of vehicular traffic to the presence of path users at or approaching the intersection.”
If this renovated crossing does require pedestrians and bicyclists to yield the right-of-way to motorists, I intend to follow up to see if this can be corrected. There are also other changes that have been made that endanger trail users and I don’t understand why this crossing has been so poorly designed.
 Florida design standards, index 17346
All traffic control devices must be uniform and meet certain standards to be installed on Florida roadways.
s. 316.0745 – Uniform Signals and Devices
(1) The Department of Transportation shall adopt a uniform system of traffic control devices for use on the streets and highways of the state.
The Department of Transportation has adopted the national Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for that purpose.
While I can find nothing in the MUTCD that directly addresses the System, I do not believe the presence of the Cross Alert System has any legal implications and in itself, does not alter traffic flow. It is the change in roadway markings and signage that does that. The signals seem to comply with the signals in the statutes, flashing yellow for caution, and flashing red for stop. They seem to reinforce the expected actions at each part of the intersection.
If this is a correctly marked crosswalk with the white lines described below, the applicable section of the Bicycle Regulations is:
s. 316.2065 – Bicycle Regulations
(10) A person propelling a vehicle by human power …. across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, has all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.
These posts address the right of way at a bike path crossing another roadway:
As are you, I am more concerned that the changes to the intersection may have eliminated the crosswalk for the bike path. The primary question seems to be whether the new crossing meets the standards to be a legal crosswalk. Regarding the correct markings for a crosswalk, the following applies:
Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices
(b) any portion of a roadway at an intersection or elsewhere distinctly indicated as a pedestrian crossing by pavement marking lines on the surface, which might be supplemented by contrasting pavement texture, style, or color.
45. Crosswalk Lines—white pavement marking lines that identify a crosswalk.
Section 3B.18 Crosswalk Markings
When crosswalk lines are used, they shall consist of solid white lines that mark the crosswalk. They shall not be less than 6 inches or greater than 24 inches in width.
Other crosswalk markings such as diagonal or perpendicular lines are sometimes used but not required to define a crosswalk.
If the lines were not clearly white, they would not appear to define a crosswalk. If that were the case, I would agree with your interpretation that preference is being given to motor vehicle traffic over trail traffic.
A crosswalk in a location where the speed limit is 40 mph or greater does not require additional signage.
New marked crosswalks alone, without other measures designed to reduce traffic speeds, shorten crossing distances, enhance driver awareness of the crossing, and/or provide active warning of pedestrian presence, should not be installed across uncontrolled roadways where the speed limit exceeds 40 mph ….
Even though not required in this case, the elimination of the “Pedestrian Crossing” sign is another indication that motorists are being favored. You are correct that the “Bicycles” sign has no regulatory impact since no statute, regulation or ordinance supports it.
I would pose the following questions to the appropriate roadway authorities:
Does the Cross Alert System meet the Uniform Signals and Devices requirements?
Is the intent to give precedence to motorized traffic at this intersection?
If the concrete lines are not clearly white and define the crosswalk, what are the intentions regarding the crossing? Is it intended to be a legal crosswalk?
Will they paint the white lines that define a crosswalk?
Will they replace the “Bicycles” signs with “Pedestrian Crossing” signs?
The Withlacoochee Trail is under the jurisdiction of the DEP Office of Greenways and Trails. Separately, I have forwarded this email to that office inviting them to comment on this post.
Dear Ms. Browne,
The Florida Bicycle Association web site Ask Geo at flbikelaw.org recently received an inquiry about a revised crossing of the Trail at Inverness and suggested the change makes the crossing less safe for bicyclists and pedestrians.
You can see the question and our response at this link:
We request that you review the information posted and comment as you see fit.
Chief, Office of Greenways and Trails
I also invite DeWayne Carver of the Bicycle/Pedestrian Office of the Florida Department of Transportation to comment.