Direction of Travel Private Property
Linda asked: The BOD just passed that residents could ride their bicycles toward traffic in our community that is considered private property. Question is, we have lots of traffic from vendors such as UPS, Fed Ex, electricians, plumbers, builders and homeowners heavily traveling these one way streets. Who is at fault if the person driving the bike gets hit by a vehicle going the correct way on the road? My opinion is the bicycle driver should follow the same rule as a car.
A private community may enact the rules it desires, including traffic rules.
The community may also elect to have traffic enforced by the local municipality law enforcement. If such an agreement is in place, state and local laws apply.
State law requires bicycles to travel in the direction of other traffic on the roadway..
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 ….
s. 316.081 – Driving on Right Side of Roadway; Exceptions
(1) Upon all roadways of sufficient width, a vehicle shall be driven upon the right half of the roadway ….
That law was enacted after numerous studies that showed that bicycle travel against the flow of traffic was unsafe.
This article is one of many that explain the reason for the laws.
Lacking an agreement with law enforcement above, you would need to ask the board how their rules are to be enforced and who would determine fault in the event of an incident. It would appear the board has potential liability for enacting rules that seem to disregard historic safety practices and state laws.
Geo wrote: “[s. 316.081(1)] was enacted after numerous studies that showed that bicycle travel against the flow of traffic was unsafe.”
This law was already on the books in 1941 (the earliest statutes to which I have ready access), at a time when bicycles had not even been defined for the purposes of traffic control. That wouldn’t come until some 20 years later when they were defined and their riders granted many of the same rights and duties as those of motorists, including the requirement to ride upon the right half of the roadway. I can find no evidence to support FBA’s claim that this law was specifically adopted to address bicyclists who were riding against the flow of traffic, so it appears to be an effort to rewrite history.
Nor have I been able to find a single study, let alone “numerous studies”, that examined this issue more than 75 years ago. (Of course, I entertain the possibility I have overlooked the studies, in which case I request being directed to them.) What does FBA hope to gain by providing this false information?
Geo also wrote: “It would appear the board has potential liability for enacting rules that seem to disregard historic safety practices and state laws.”
Florida has a dramatically higher per capita bicyclist fatality rate than any other state, and the U.S. has, by far, the highest bicyclist fatality rate among peer nations. In other words, our “historic safety practices” are by far the worst in the civilized world, so I suspect proving the board is liable for crafting rules that do not comply with our proven hazardous safety practices might be a tough sell.
But, is riding with motorized traffic safer than riding against it, as is often claimed? Consider a recent FDOT study, “Statewide Analysis of Bicycle Crashes”: Of the 505 bicyclists who were killed in our state during 2011-2014, 35 of them had been riding against traffic at the time of the crash, while 153 had been riding with traffic when they were struck by a motor vehicle (Table 3-15: Statistics by Bicyclist’s Action Prior to the Crash). Although this is raw data and doesn’t take into account exposure, it does tell us that riding with traffic is hardly a safe practice.
If this community has potential liability for enacting rules that disregard “historic safety practices”, what about FDOT? For generations it has set the standards for our deadly highways, and to this day refuses to adopt standards that have been proven to be much safer for people who ride bicycles on public highways.