Placing Obstructions in the Roadway


This has become a frequent sight on Lakemont Avenue on trash day. The waste management workers are placing some cans in the middle of the bike lane after emptying them into the truck. I’ve stopped and removed several cans from the bike lane each time. Since this is clearly a pattern and not a random occurrence, I sent the following letter to the City of Winter Park:

David Zusi
Water & Wastewater Utility Director

Troy Attaway
Public Works Director

Dear Mr. Zusi,

I am a transportation cyclist who frequently uses Winter Park roads. In the past few months, I have made several bicycle trips on Lakemont Ave after the Waste Pro trucks have picked up trash. Each time, I have encountered trash cans placed in the bike lane (photo attached). Please instruct Waste Pro to place all trash cans off the roadway. The bike lane is part of the roadway and obstructing the roadway is against Florida Statute.

FS 316.2035 Injurious substances prohibited; dragging vehicle or load; obstructing, digging, etc.–
(3) It is unlawful to obstruct, dig up, or in any way disturb any street or highway.

Thank you very much for your attention to this matter.

Keri Caffrey

If I get a reply, I’ll let you know in comments.

BTW, one day when I stopped to remove the cans, I watched a car coming toward one of the cans drift a foot into the bike lane. It was a bit alarming since the can was in its path maybe 10 feet away. It drifted back out before the can and as it passed me, I looked in the window. The driver (or person supposed to be driving) had a PDA in her hand, typing away.

22 replies
  1. Grayson Peddie
    Grayson Peddie says:

    So much for multi-tasking in the road. And as for trash cans in the bike lane? That’s ridiculous.

    I hope you get a reply from the city.

  2. Eric
    Eric says:

    I admit it (hanging my head in shame) . . . I occasionally ride on Lakemont and when I do, I use the bike lane except at intersections where they want me to stay within the painted lane right up to the light.

    Because there are many intersections, I am adept at weaving (merging?) into traffic. I have confronted those pesky Ottos in the bike lane and if there are very many of them, rather than weave in and out of the bike lane, I just don’t use it.

    • Keri
      Keri says:

      So far, I have stopped an removed every can I’ve seen because I haven’t been in a hurry. They do pose a practicable reason not to use the BL, though.

      Otherwise, we legally have no choice but to use the bike lane if we are going slower than other traffic (under the FTR law). I merge out at the intersections, too.

      • fred_dot_u
        fred_dot_u says:

        I understood, from speaking with an FDOT engineer, that such sections of painted pavement are considered “undesignated bike lanes” which to me is a contradiction in terms. If it’s undesignated, it’s not anything, right?

        I suppose I’m lucky in that the local law enforcement considers me too much trouble to deal with, as I don’t ride even in the lanes marked with the little guys in paint. Since I can use the roadway and the bike lanes are not part of the roadway (?), doesn’t it work out?

        • Keri
          Keri says:

          This is designated (per my comment below… I think we were writing comments at the same time)

          And a bike lane IS part of the roadway. A shoulder is not.

        • Keri
          Keri says:

          BTW, the bike lane being part of the roadway doesn’t mean you absolutely can’t ride outside of it. It just means you have to prove the practicability of doing so because it isn’t covered by explicit statutory exceptions. The fact that your Velomobile is almost the width of that space, and you need to keep the right wheel away from the gutter seam, would be reason enough for me. Add sight line visibility, the need to constantly merge out at intersections, etc… And you’re probably using multi-lane roads anyway, so it’s not like you’re impeding traffic.

          However, the courts of the Culture of Speed may not be so liberal.

          At least you’ve established your presence on YouTube and instilled the fear of negative publicity into the hearts of law enforcement all over East Central Florida 😉

  3. Scott
    Scott says:

    That’s a bike lane? (Serious question.)

    How can it be a lane without two boundary stripes? It looks like a paved shoulder to me.

    • Keri
      Keri says:

      Yes, it’s marked with stencils and signed with R3-17 signs. It also meets AASHTO standards for width. But it sure looks like a shoulder, doesn’t it?

      I don’t think a boundary stripe or curb & gutter are required for it to be a bike lane. We have lots of general traffic lanes that have no boundary stripe. Mighk can clarify as I’m too lazy to look it up at the moment 😉

  4. Kevin Love
    Kevin Love says:

    There used to be someone where I live in Toronto that would put a trash can obstructing the sidewalk on Wellesley Street. So I took the trash can and put it in the middle of the car lane.

    Only had to do this twice before the message was received and there was no more sidewalk obstruction.

  5. Eric
    Eric says:

    “But it sure looks like a shoulder, doesn’t it?”

    I used to go to Winter Park Ped/Bike committee meetings. I lost interest when I saw most of their energy going into establishing trails on private property where the owners were saying “You want do WHAT with my land?”

    Anyway, I heard it said once that the committee, early on, had agreed with the Streets Dept., that 3 feet was enough room for a lane, so all the lanes in WP are 3 feet wide (except where Butch got ambitious and put in a two foot lane on the Glenridge curves).

    • Keri
      Keri says:

      Lakemont is wider than 3ft. I think it varies between 4 and 5.

      Glenridge sucks mightily. It’s in the Bike Lane Hall of Shame and will be profiled here soon, with photos and video. It’s at its most charming with a bus or box truck filling the median-separated lane, right up against the bike lane line. Even if you ride all the way on the edge of pavement you can’t get 2 feet of passing clearance in that bike lane. It’s not a mystery why the majority of people on bikes use the sidewalk on Glenridge.

      • Eric
        Eric says:

        “Lakemont is wider than 3ft. I think it varies between 4 and 5. ”

        If you say so. I don’t carry a tape measure.

        Those lanes were put in before the committee existed. The Glenridge lanes after when it was widened and a median was installed.

        The “wide sidewalk” on Lake Sue and Pennsylvania went in right before the committee was formed, but the sidewalk on the west side of Winter Park Road between Glenridge and Lake Sue was after. Try the sidewalk and see the cutouts around the trees? The committee did that and they are very proud of it.

        • Keri
          Keri says:

          I often carry a tape measure, I’ll measure it next time. It’s visibly wider than Glenridge, even at its narrowest.

          Don’t get me started on the sidewalk next to the Evil Brick Road. >;-/

      • Eric
        Eric says:

        I forgot, but you remember that kid that got left crossed by the “late to work” nurse up by the hospital? He was in one of those lanes that are painted right up to the intersection.

        • Keri
          Keri says:

          No, he got crossed at Mizell. The BL ends a block before Mizell. But I’m pretty sure he was riding far right, at relatively high speed, in early morning dusk. Bad combination.

          The best opportunity to get hooked or crossed on Lakemont is southbound at Whitehall. Though, I had someone almost cross me going into a private driveway not too long ago. If I’d been going more than 10mph, I would have gotten hit.

  6. Rick
    Rick says:

    Fred_dot_u said: I understood, from speaking with an FDOT engineer, that such sections of painted pavement are considered “undesignated bike lanes” which to me is a contradiction in terms. If it’s undesignated, it’s not anything, right?

    Does this apply to the “parking lane” on Corrine? I have been yelled at for not using it before.

    • Keri
      Keri says:

      The parking lane is not for use by moving vehicles. I don’t think it’s technically even legal to use it as a lane. Though I doubt that would ever be enforced against a cyclist. You can’t be legally forced to use it. A cyclist could lose the legitimacy of his right-of-way if someone pulls out and hits him while he’s riding in the parking lane. It’s obviously well outside the focus area of drivers entering and exiting the roadway. I used to ride there, years ago. I had a lot of problems… all of which (except for occasional honking) went away when I started controlling the right lane.

    • Keri
      Keri says:

      When in doubt, ask GEO:

      He spells it out with the law. 🙂

      A fact that a lane is marked for parking indicates its purpose and that it is not a “lane then available for traffic”.

      Although the parking lane might be part of the roadway, we are still required to obey all traffic control devices. We are prohibited from using a right-turn-only lane for through traffic. Similarly, we are prohibited from using a parking lane as a lane then available for traffic.

      We would not expect a motor vehicle operator to drive in a parking lane. There should be no expectation that any other driver, such as a bicyclist with all the rights and duties of other drivers, would do so.

  7. JohnB
    JohnB says:

    Is there seriously such a thing as an “undesignated bike lane”? What would distinguish it from a shoulder? Sounds like more ignorant segregation bias to me. If you speak with this engineer again, ask him the difference between these “undesignated bike lanes” and shoulders. I’d like to know.

    • fred_dot_u
      fred_dot_u says:

      This was at a public meeting for a road “improvement” project. It’s going from two traffic lanes in each direction, with on-street parking, to two traffic lanes in each direction, fewer left-turn cuts and no on-street parking. The extra width previously used for parking will now become a striped area to the left of the left-most traffic lane and an undesignated bike lane to the right. It’s undesignated because there will be no signs or markings on the road surface. I was told that municipalities have requested the width without the signs, as it reduces their liability and also removes the requirement of keeping the lane clear of debris. Sheesh.

      I think it was during the same meeting that I was told that because there are curbs, it’s not a shoulder.

      It’s not a bike lane, if there are no signs.

      • JohnB
        JohnB says:

        I’m going to bring this up with the Chainguard Yahoo group and ask what they think. Both of those things just sound so completely bogus. (Or as the Car Talk guys would say, bo – o – o – gus!)

  8. Richard Masoner
    Richard Masoner says:

    @Kevin, you rule. I’ve been tempted to move trashcans into the middle of the road but have never actually done it.

    (and that incident in the middle of the night involving some teens in Fairfax, Virginia in 1981 – I know nothing about that!)

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