Right of Way on Paved Shoulder
Nathan asked: If two cyclists are on the shoulder, one with (motorized) traffic and the other against traffic, who has right of way?
That is an excellent question, but I’m afraid I can’t give you a good answer.
You are correctly implying that the paved shoulder is not part of the roadway.
s. 316.003 – Definitions
(42) Roadway – That portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the berm or shoulder.
Almost all of the statutes that direct these actions by drivers refer to those in the roadway. This is the only exception that I can find.
s. 316.082 – Passing Vehicles Proceeding in Opposite Directions
(1) Drivers of vehicles proceeding in opposite directions shall pass each other to the right.
The paved shoulder is not clearly defined nor accounted for in the statutes. It is not the roadway, nor is it the sidewalk. Although bicyclists may use a paved shoulder, they are never required to do so unless it is marked as a bike lane. In some circumstances, bicyclists must use a bike lane.
On most paved shoulders, there is not room for two bicyclists to safely pass when proceeding in opposite directions at speed. Either the bicyclist traveling with other traffic must leave the pavement or the other cyclist must unlawfully enter the roadway. There is no statute that specifically says which is required except that it would not be lawful to do the latter.
In any event, both cyclists have the duty to exercise due care and slow or stop as necessary to avoid a collision.
s. 316.185 – Special Hazards
…. when special hazards exist or may exist with respect to pedestrians or other traffic …. and speed shall be decreased as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle, or other conveyance on or entering the street in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care.
Riding against traffic, even on a paved shoulder, is not recommended since it is nearly impossible to do so lawfully for any distance. Remaining on a paved shoulder at an intersection or driveway exposes the rider to many hazards, including turning motorists that do not expect to see a vehicle approaching from the right.