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BIKE LANES

We all see bike lanes on roads in Florida We look to them as a safe(r) place to ride. This is about what Bike Lanes are, and the laws that apply to them.

Bike Lanes are lanes that are at least four feet wide, not including gutters. This photo shows a Bike Lane, with signs on the pavement and on a post.

Bicyclists ride with traffic. Therefore Bike Lanes go in one direction, as the arrow in the photo shows.

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Sometimes lanes are painted on the pavement that are less than four feet wide. These are not Bike Lanes. This photo shows a narrow lane. Note that no signs refer to it as a Bike Lane.

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BIKE LANE LAWS

When a Bike Lane is provided bicyclists are required to ride in the Bike Lane. Bicyclists are permitted to ride two abreast in a Bike Lane, if they can do so safely.

RIDING WHERE A LANE IS NOT WIDE ENOUGH TO BE A BIKE LANE

Here is a photo of a lane that is not wide enough to be a Bike Lane.

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The municipality placed a sign outside the lane showing that bike riders will be riding outside the lane. A sign on a post warns motorists that bicyclists will be present. When a lane is not wide enough to be a Bike Lane, there is no requirement that a bicyclist ride in the lane.

CARS AND BIKE LANES

Florida law is not clear on who can lawfully be in Bike Lanes. Different laws use one of two words, "exclusive" or "preferential." Since the law does not clearly state that Bike Lanes are for the exclusive use of bicyclists, bicyclists must assume that law enforcement will not ticket cars in a Bike Lane. This is especially important at intersections. Cars may use the Bike Lane to make a right turn. Bicyclists must assume that law enforcement will not ticket cars in a Bike Lane.

Florida law does not clearly prohibit cars and trucks from parking or stopping in a Bike Lane. As this photo shows, this law may not be enforced.

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CONCLUSION

Bike lanes are valuable. They provide a location in which bicyclists can ride assuming motorists will not strike them from the rear. But bicyclists must still maintain awareness of all motorists on the road.

 

 

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Florida Legal Elite 2013 ABA American Bar Association