Laws concerning riding two abreast are some of the most confusing laws for the bicyclists in the state of Florida. Even lawyers sometimes disagree on the meaning of the law. Here is what the Florida statutes have to say:
“Persons riding bicycles upon a roadway may not ride more than two abreast except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for the exclusive use of bicycles. Persons riding two abreast may not impede traffic when traveling at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing.”
You will notice that the only issue this really points out is impeding traffic. Therein lies the problem. What is impeding traffic? Some people say if an automobile happens to come upon two bicycle riders riding abreast and it makes the auto driver slow down for a few minutes, it was impeding traffic. Others say, if the automobile only had to briefly slow down until the cyclist could safely pass, traffic was not impeded.
If the road is wide enough that a car can pass them and still be at least 3-feet of them, they are legally traveling.
If the bikes are in the bike lane and it is wide enough to accommodate two or even three cyclists, they are not impeding traffic, and they are legal.
There are times when the automobile lane is too narrow for a bicycle to ride next to an automobile and still be at least 3-feet away. In that case, the cyclist is to take the entire lane and position themselves as a car. If that is the case, then two bikes riding in the center of the lane is no different than having a single bicycle taking the lane.
Are Bikes Considered Vehicles?
In Florida, a bicycle is considered a vehicle when traveling on the road. Automobiles must respect them and allow them the same privilege that they have. People must understand that the road is not for only their use. It belongs to everyone who wants to use it.
Whenever possible, bikes should use the bike lane. If there is no bike lane, cyclists should use the far right of a lane if there is no bike lane.
If a cyclist decides to ride on the sidewalk, they are regarded as a pedestrian. They must yield to other pedestrians, and they have to signal to let the people around them know when they are turning or slowing down. A cyclist must obey crosswalk rules and again yield to pedestrians, but vehicles must yield to all of them. A cyclist may also ride or walk their bike across the crosswalk when it is time to do so.
Stay Alert When Riding Two Abreast
Bicycles are a mode of transportation that promotes health and well-being and are here to stay. This means that automobile drivers are going to have to share the road. Governments and communities are doing everything they can to make roads safe for all people. All we have to do is be a little more watchful for those around us.