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Posted by on Mar 21, 2009 in Bicycle Culture, Safety | 5 comments

Riddle Me This!

Our state legislatures have a wonderful way of speaking “legalese”.  With the last few posts regarding bicycle law, I was wondering about the FTR law on many states books.

While not having researched every state with FTR law on the books, I have seen similarity in FL and CA.

Florida 316.2065 Read specifically Par (5)(a)(3).  I read this paragraph to essentially null and void the need to ride to the far right while traveling in the lane (of substandard-width).  So knowing this, there should never be harassment from law enforcement or a citation written for controlling the lane (of substandard-width).

I read a cyclist was told to ride 12 inches from the curb.  HAHAHA! I did not see any specified distance in the above statute.

Many of our uninformed in uniform claim they cite us for our safety.  How does the state define safety/safely in regards to cyclists?  I have seen “safety” being defined by opinion.  Who more accurately determines the definition of safely, the officers opinion (either biased or unbiased towards cyclists) or the cyclist operator of the vehicle, according to written law?

5 Comments

  1. Rodney, I have not yet seen a reference to determine who is the “decider” other than page 211 in the Florida Green Book, (insert long words for construction specifications and other related activities reference manual), so I’ve decided that it’s me.

    I’m a skilled, trained and experienced cyclist (RR1, anyway) and far more qualified than a motorcycle cop, or “investigator with the police department for 27 years, with a brochure from a charity saying cyclists must ride as far to the right as possible” determining what is safe and what is not.

    As noted so many times, these alleged concerns for our safety is more for the benefit of reducing the impact on other traffic and other roadway users.

    Even the Daytona cop stop on Friday, the 20th, was so far off the mark, I was nearly stunned. I was not allowed to use the roadway because I didn’t have a tag.

    yeah, okay

  2. Oh, yeah, in another forum (I think) I recall reading a reference that the FTR is not required “wherever a right turn is possible!” That’s a new one on me, but it’s not in the FL books, only the CA (I think).

  3. I don’t know the laws in FL, but up here in Maine, check these out:

    Title 29-A, §2075: Other speed regulations

    1. Operation impeding movement of traffic. A person may not operate a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation of the motor vehicle or in compliance with law.

    http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/Statutes/29-A/title29-Asec2075.html

    ———

    Title 29-A, §2053: Right-of-way

    2. Slow-moving vehicles. An operator of a vehicle moving slowly shall keep the vehicle as close as practicable to the right-hand boundary of the public way, and allow faster moving vehicles reasonably free passage to the left.

    http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/Statutes/29-A/title29-Asec2053.html

    ———

    Title 29-A §101. Definitions

    59. Public way. “Public way” means a way, owned and maintained by the State, a county or a municipality, over which the general public has a right to pass.

    92. Way. “Way” means the entire width between boundary lines of a road, highway, parkway, street or bridge used for vehicular traffic, whether public or private.

    =====

    I’m not a lawyer, but §2075 is the only statute I find about impeding traffic, and it specifically applies only to *motor* vehicles! Cool.

    Our Slow Moving Vehicle law, §2053, talks about keeping to the right of the “public way”, the definition of which is provided in §101. However, that doesn’t seem to helpful to me in terms of whether that applies only to marked travel lanes or the entire road surface (i.e. shoulders). However, the definition of just “way” *does* mention between boundary lines, implying to me that the SMV law does not imply that a shoulder must be used if available by any slow-moving vehicle.

    Of course we also have a Bikes to the Right law, with the standard exceptions/examples (however you want to interpret them), but I don’t want to get into that right now, since it seems a little further afield from the topic at hand, which is, as I interpret it here in Maine, that we can’t be ticketed for impeding traffic! :-)

    Hope that stimulates your thought there in FL.

  4. Yes, California has the additional exception “where a right turn is authorized”. Some other states have wording that allow staying out of right turn only lanes when going straight. but the California wording is more favorable to the cyclist.

    I would argue that the cyclist should be the “decider”, because he is the one who has to deal with consequences of sharing the lane when not safe to do so. Unfortunately, the fact that the FTR law is written in a “guilty until proven innocent” way which makes the police the “decider” in practice, unless a cyclist can overturn a citation in court.

  5. I’m pretty sure that the reason the state laws are so similar is because of the “Uniform Vehicle Code.” You can read more about reforming the state laws here:
    http://cycle-safety.com/