SAG Vehicle Support for a Group Ride
Natalia asked: Due to the last accident on eastbound State Road 84 that killed 2 cyclists and injured many others I am concerned about going out there again to ride by myself or in a group.
I heard it is illegal to have a SAG vehicle protecting us while we ride. Is that true? If so, why is that?
I also heard that we would need to ask for permission to every county individually to have the SAG vehicle. We ride through many different counties every weekend and it would make it really hard to ask individual permissions.
The statute that might cause you problems with a motor vehicle behind the group without a permit is this.
s. 316.183 – Unlawful Speed
(5) No person shall drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law.
Note that it says “motor vehicle” which excludes bicycles and other human powered vehicles. I don’t think the phrase “necessary for safe operation” above would apply to the group.
Some might try to use this section of the same statute to justify your proposal.
(4) The driver of every vehicle shall …. drive at an appropriately reduced speed when:
(e) Any special hazard exists with respect to pedestrians or other traffic …..
In the event of a citation, I don’t believe you would be successful since, even with the unfortunate circumstances, the roadway you are using is probably not very different and no more hazardous than many others in the state.
I am aware that certain ride groups have had a marked law enforcement vehicle with lights join regularly scheduled rides to do what you suggest and control traffic at certain intersections. I don’t know if that would require a permit or cost for each county.
Considering the amazing wordsmithing some bicycle advocacy groups and even FDOT have engaged in to reach the conclusion that § 316.2065(5)(a) permits a bicyclist to “control the lane” if it is less than 14′ wide, I think a case could be made for the OP’s suggestion.
This collision happened on a roadway divided into two lanes of traffic moving in the same direction with a speed limit of 55 mph. The SAG vehicle would be traveling at a speed that is dramatically slower than that of prevailing traffic, but any traffic that would be approaching from the rear could simply move into the adjacent lane and pass the slower motor vehicle . . . and coincidentally, the bicyclists ahead of it.
Although some motorists might be slowed temporarily by the SAG vehicle, could an LEO make a defensible argument that the vehicle was traveling so slowly that it was impeding or blocking the normal and reasonable movement of traffic at this particular location?
Furthermore, considering that these same advocates claim that bicyclists are somehow endowed with the right to determine what constitutes their personal safety (“the statutes grants me the right to ‘control the lane’ because I have deemed it to be safer for ME”), why could the driver of the SAG vehicle not be able to claim that he or she considers driving at 15 mph to be a safe speed for him or her?
I’m all for safety, and safety goes both ways, for the cyclists and for the vehicle operators. The main problem with the cyclists is that they do not respect the law.
Specifically, Florida Statue 316.2065 Bicycle regulations.— states:
(6) Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway may not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Persons riding two abreast may not impede traffic when traveling at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing and shall ride within a single lane.
It is common to see a group of over cyclists taking over an entire lane. This is not only unsafe, but also unlawful. The law is clear in that no more than two abreast can ride together. Why can’t they form a line of two, and not take over the entire lane?
Cycling groups are well aware of the biking laws and enforce those laws during group rides. However, I would admit that there are individuals who are either not aware, or simply do not respect cycling regulations.
As per Florida Statue 316.2065, it states that “Persons riding two abreast may not impede traffic when traveling at less than the normal speed of traffic.” Basically, if we’re riding on single lane roads we cannot ride two abreast or more because we will be impeding flow of traffic, unless the road is not wide enough for a vehicle to pass a cyclist safely, at least 3 feeet. However, when riding on roads that have two lanes or more we can lawfully “take the lane” because cars can move to the next lane, therefore we’re not impeding traffic.
Ernesto, I would agree with you provided the cyclists still adhere to the law by riding on the lane two abreast.
While technically the byciclists taking over an entire lane may not be impeding the traffic since there is an additional lane, there still a violation for not riding two abreast.
It is just unfortunate that the recent situation has provoked much discussion on the matter, when we can all be proactive and avoid similar accidents.
While there are many responsible drivers and cyclists on our streets, there are a few (drivers and cyclists) that do not respect basic traffic law.
For a full discussion of impeding traffic, please see this post and the links therein.