Paved Shoulders Bike Lanes


Jeff asked:  FDOT has started installing “marked shoulders” that look like bicycle lanes, placing the bicycle lane marker on the pavement but without the vertical “bicycle lane” signs. Are rules of the roadway enforceable on these shoulders? I think not. Would most police officers recognize that they aren’t real bicycle lanes? What problems do these marked shoulders pose for pedestrians with no place else to walk? Here are the governing F.S. and addition the FDOT Design Handbook.

FDOT Design Manual: Marked Shoulders 
A paved shoulder that has the Helmeted Bicyclist Symbol and Bicycle Lane Arrow pavement markings (see FDM are referred to as “marked shoulders”. Do not use bike lane signs on flush shoulder roadways.
Paved shoulders should be marked only when all the following are met:
(1) Design speed ≤ 45 mph,
(2) Shoulder width ≥ 5-foot,
(3) Within C4, C5 or C6 context classification; or within C3R when demand is
demonstrated, and
(4) Shared use path is not present along corridor.

Here also is the Florida Statute:
F.S. 316.003(64) ROADWAY.—That portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the berm or shoulder. If a highway includes two or more separate roadways, the term “roadway” refers to any such roadway separately, but not to all such roadways collectively.


I’m afraid I don’t have a good answer to your question.  Here’s why. 

There is no statutory definition of a bike lane.

FDOT has been marking paved shoulders as bike lanes for a long time.  

Many years ago, I asked the question, “Does placing markings on the pavement change a paved shoulder to a part of the roadway”.  The answer I got was, “Of course it does”.

I was referred to the MUTCD, which states:


23. Bicycle Lane—a portion of a roadway that has been designated for preferential or exclusive use by bicyclists by pavement markings and, if used, signs.

FDOT defines a roadway as follows:  

FDOT Design Manual 2019


Roadways consist of prepared surfaces (asphalt or concrete pavement) for use by vehicles, including shoulders and adjacent bicycle lanes. A divided roadway provides a separation between opposing traffic lanes. 

Hence, it is easy to see how a FDOT considers a paved shoulder marked as such a bike lane and part of the roadway.

Our compliance and law enforcement action should be predicated on state laws and not FDOT standards or other definitions.  Florida statutes state that the paved shoulder is not a part of the roadway.

s. 316.003 – Definitions

(70) Roadway – That portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the berm or shoulder.

Also, the definitions of “bike lane” differ depending on your source.

Note that the MUTCD version does not require that signs be present and that pavement markings are sufficient.

Florida Greenbook

BICYCLE LANE (BIKE LANE) – A portion of a roadway (typically 4-5 ft) which has been designated by signing and pavement markings for the preferential or exclusive use by bicyclists. 

Draft of possible future version.

A portion of a roadway that has been designated for preferential use by bicyclists by pavement markings, and if used, signs. They are one-way facilities that typically carry traffic in the same direction as adjacent motor vehicle traffic. 

Bicycle lanes are to be marked in accordance with Design Standards, Index 17347 and the MUTCD. 

It is notable that the latest FDOT Design Manual refers to a bike lane as part of a curbed roadway but seems to permit pavement markings on paved shoulders under certain circumstances described in your question above.

Bicycle Lane: A bicycle lane (bike lane) is a portion of a curbed roadway which has been designated by striping and special pavement markings for use by bicyclists. 

Is this an attempt to coordinate the FDOT standards with the state statute?

With regard to your point about pedestrians in the paved shoulder bike lane, s. 316.130 applies.

s. 316.130 – Pedestrians; Traffic Regulations

(4) Where sidewalks are not provided, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall, when practicable, walk only on the shoulder on the left side of the roadway in relation to the pedestrian’s direction of travel, facing traffic which may approach from the opposite direction.

Back to the original question, “Is a paved shoulder marked as a bike lane part of the roadway or a shoulder”?  I don’t know.

1 Comment on “Paved Shoulders Bike Lanes

  1. If I understand correctly the type of “marked shoulder” you describe, I submit it is part of the roadway where the statutory “rules of the road” apply. Consider:

    * Because a bicycle meets the statutory definition of vehicle, a lane that has been “improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular (bicycle) travel” would be part of the roadway [§ 316.003(70), Fla. Stat.]

    * FDOT’s Design Manual and Greenbook are standards developed by the DOT for the design and construction of our state’s highways—they do not create any regulatory authority over the users of said highways

    * Florida has adopted the MUTCD as the “uniform system of traffic control devices for use on the streets and highways of the state” [§ 316.0745(1), Fla. Stat. and Rule 14-15.010, Fla. Admin. Code]

    * The MUTCD requires bicycle lanes to be: a) marked with a “bicycle symbol or word marking BIKE LANE” (Section 3D.01, P6, C), and b) separated from the adjacent travel lane with the longitudinal markings described in Section 3D.02

    If the lanes you describe meet the MUTCD’s standard for bicycle lanes, regardless of how they are defined by FDOT, they are legal bike lanes. Consequently, I do not understand why there can be any confusion about what rules of the road apply to people using those lanes.

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