Stop Signs on Shared-Use Paths
HarryB asked: STOP signs are common traffic control devices facing people on shared-use paths that run parallel to the road and are located within the highway’s right-of-way. Contrary to conventional wisdom, I believe that their installation defies state law, and have discussed this issue with a county engineer who defends their use.
1) Despite various labels by which these particular ways are known (shared-use path, sidepath, multi-use trail, bicycle trail, trail, etc.), they meet Florida’s statutory definition of sidewalk: “SIDEWALK.—That portion of a street between the curbline, or the lateral line, of a roadway and the adjacent property lines, intended for use by pedestrians.” § 316.003(70), Fla. Stat.
2) Bicyclists who are riding on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk have the same rights and duties as pedestrians: “A person propelling a vehicle by human power upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, has all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.” § 316.2065(9)
3) The statutes assign the right-of-way to people traveling on sidewalks and in crosswalks (except at signalized intersections where priority is assigned by traffic control signals):
- a) “The driver of a vehicle emerging from an alley, building, private road or driveway within a business or residence district shall stop the vehicle immediately prior to driving onto a sidewalk or onto the sidewalk area extending across the alley, building entrance, road or driveway…and shall yield to all vehicles and pedestrians which are so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard.” § 316.125(2)
- b) “When traffic control signals are not in place or in operation and there is no signage indicating otherwise, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.” § 316.130(7)(c)
Installing STOP or YIELD signs facing pedestrians or bicyclists on the sidewalk/shared-use path at these crossings is an attempt to deprive these people of their statutory right to continue on their travels without having to yield to motorists.
The county engineer does not dispute that the shared-use path is intended for use by pedestrians and bicyclists, but he claims that it functions as a frontage road and has therefor assigned priority accordingly. I maintain that the path does not meet the definition of a road (“ROADWAY.—That portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the berm or shoulder” § 316.003(64)), nor does it function like one. Rather, it is a (wide) sidewalk and functions like one. Consequently, if the county chooses to install traffic control devices at crossings, it needs to comply with state law that assigns priority to the sidewalk/shared-use path.
I can not find any law that gives the county engineer the authority to override these statutes. Am I missing something?
I don’t agree with your characterization of shared-use paths as sidewalks unless they are immediately adjacent to the roadway and are, in fact, wide sidewalks.
A shared-use path is not an “alley, building, private road or driveway”.
Shared-Use Path—a bikeway outside the traveled way and physically separated from motorized vehicular traffic by an open space or barrier and either within the highway right-of-way or within an independent alignment. Shared-use paths are also used by pedestrians (including skaters, users of manual and motorized wheelchairs, and joggers) and other authorized motorized and non-motorized users.
Shared Use Path – Paved facilities physically separated from motorized vehicular traffic by an open space or barrier. May be within the highway right of way or an independent right of way, with minimal cross flow by motor vehicles. Users are non-motorized and may include: pedestrians, bicyclists, skaters, people with disabilities, and others.
Hence, the answer to your question is in these posts.
If the crosswalk is marked as such, the bicyclist does have the rights and duties of a pedestrian while in the crosswalk but must stop at the stop sign before entering the crosswalk and drivers must yield.
Concerning the wide sidewalk adjacent to a roadway, as well as other shared use paths, cyclists are operating vehicles and must comply with traffic control devices.
The Bicycle Regulations indicate bicyclists on the sidewalk or crosswalk have the same rights and duties as pedestrians under “the same circumstances”.
(9) A person propelling a vehicle by human power upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, has all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.
Pedestrians must comply with applicable traffic control devices.
s. 316.130 – Pedestrians; Traffic Regulations
(1) A pedestrian shall obey the instructions of any official traffic control device specifically applicable to the pedestrian ….
I am not aware of any requirement imposed by statute applicable to a pedestrian to stop or yield for a stop sign.
There is a requirement for operators of all vehicles to obey stop signs.
s. 316.123 – Vehicle Entering Stop or Yield Intersection
(2)(a) – …. every driver of a vehicle approaching a stop intersection indicated by a stop sign shall stop ….
Therefore, the circumstances referred to above are different for pedestrians and cyclists facing a stop sign.
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 ….
The statute requiring drivers of vehicles to stop at stop signs applies to all drivers of all vehicles, no matter where they are located. Even on a wide sidewalk adjacent to the roadway that would qualify as a shared-use path, the requirement to stop at a stop sign applies to cyclists.