Bicycles Passing on the Right
Jacci asked: I drive a car to work on Brickell, which is a haven for bicyclists. I respect that and their rights by not only looking both ways twice at an intersection, but also obeying the law when a right turn is only allowed on a green arrow. This morning, after waiting patiently for several minutes to execute a legal right turn, two cyclists blew through the intersection against a red light. They stopped me fast in my tracks from completing a legally-sanctioned right turn and cost me yet another four minutes of valuable time I could have been at work. This is certainly not an isolated case. There is hardly a day that passes without seeing bicyclists performing without any regard for the law or common courtesy. It seems as if they have been misinformed that they can do anything they want and are protected from following regular traffic laws. Everything I have read on this topic tells me that bicyclists are considered drivers of “vehicles” and must accordingly obey the traffic laws of this jurisdiction. My questions are as follows:
What exactly are the laws governing bicyclists at red lights and stop signs?
If I am correct, that they are to obey the same laws as automobile drivers, then why do they blatantly and consistently do the opposite?
What can we do to educate the public so that we can all get along and share the traffic-ways?
Bicycles are vehicles and their operators have the same rights and duties as other drivers, with few exceptions. They must follow applicable laws including stopping at red lights and stop signs.
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.
Some bicyclists, like some motorists, blatantly disobey the traffic laws. We have all seen motorists blow through red lights and stop signs. Those bicyclists and motorists are violating the law and should be sanctioned.
There are circumstances when passing on the right is permitted.
s. 316.084 – When Overtaking on the Right is Permitted
(1) The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass on the right of another vehicle only under the following conditions:
(b) Upon a street or highway with unobstructed pavement not occupied by parked vehicles of sufficient width for two or more lines of moving traffic in each direction;
(2) The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass another vehicle on the right only under conditions permitting such movement in safety.
It would appear that passing on the right at an intersection to blow through a red light violates the requirement that passing on the right must be done safely.
The general rule is that vehicles, including bicycles, must pass on the left.
s. 316.083 – Overtaking and Passing a Vehicle
The following rules shall govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction, subject to those limitations, exceptions, and special rules hereinafter stated:
(1) The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall …. pass to the left thereof at a safe distance ….
You can prevent bicyclists from passing on the right when you are preparing for a right turn by complying with the law that says you must keep as far to the right in the roadway as is practicable.
s. 316.151 – Required Position and Method of Turning at Intersections
(1) The driver of a vehicle intending to turn at an intersection shall do so as follows:
(a) Right turn – Both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.
If a bicycle lane is present, it is part of the roadway. The motorist should insure it is safe, then move into the bike lane to prepare for a right turn. The bike lane markings should (They are not always properly marked) change from a solid white line to a dashed line, indicating the motorist should move right and the bicyclist proceeding straight through the intersection should move left into the traffic lane to prevent a “right hook” by a motorist. See this post:
Regarding your last question, education is needed for all concerned. Few know the laws about bicycling and feel bicyclists are violating the law when they are operating legally. You are taking the first steps by reading the information on this site. You may want to encourage others to do the same.
Of particular note is the fact that most, including most bicyclists, do not understand the laws related to cyclists in narrow lanes legally impeding traffic by moving away from the right side of the roadway.
Staying to the far right in a narrow lane encourages motorists to try to illegally pass within the lane when there is not room to safely do so. See this post and others about “Lane Width and Sharing”: