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  1. #1
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    Left turn question

    I was biking home from campus on a two lane street. The left lane becomes a left turn only and the right, a right turn only. I am riding on the right side of the left lane, i stop for the stop sign, along with a car. As i see the roadway is clear from all directions, i make a wide left turn as far to the right as i can manage, giving room for the car alongside me and then merge into the bike lane ahead.

    Right after this i am pulled over. The cop tells me I had to wait behind the car at the stop sign, and gives me a ticket for "careless driving." I know as a cyclist i could take a full lane for my turn, but i believed it was acceptable to make wide turns outside of car traffic.

    Florida state law says
    316.151 Required position and method of turning at intersections.--
    [c]"Left turn by bicycle.--In addition to the method of making a left turn described in paragraph (b), a person riding a bicycle and intending to turn left has the option of following the course described hereafter: The rider shall approach the turn as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway; after proceeding across the intersecting roadway, the turn shall be made as close as practicable to the curb or edge of the roadway on the far side of the intersection; and, before proceeding, the bicyclist shall comply with any official traffic control device or police officer regulating traffic on the highway along which the bicyclist intends to proceed."

    have i been misunderstanding this law, should i be making a left turn from the right turn only lane? Or does this not count if i can use a full lane?

    Also, are there any Florida cyclists who are familiar with the current citation fees? The officers who pulled me over were unsure of whether i would pay the regular motor vehicle citation of 100 dollars, or a bicycle violation fee of only 40.

  2. #2
    Yabba-Dabba-Doo! AlmostTrick's Avatar
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    "Careless driving" sounds like an infraction that is based on officer discretion. You may be able to beat it in court. That being said, I would take the center of the left turn lane before and during the turn, because I feel it is safer than riding next to a car in the same lane. You definitely do not want to turn left from the right turn lane.
    Last edited by AlmostTrick; 03-30-08 at 12:23 AM.
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  3. #3
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    The law you quote describes a two step left. In other words, staying to the right as you approach the intersection, cross the intersection as if proceeding straight through, then on the far side of the intersection make a 90 left and cross the intersection again as a vehicle approaching the intersection from that direction.

    If this a "T" intersection, which it sounds like in the OP, since there is no through lane, then the two step left cannot apply.

    I think the violation should have been improper turn, with the careless in addition to that if he wanted an additional citation to get you for, but I doubt that will hold up in court if you try to fight the ticket. The careless is kind of a catch-all that can cover a lot of other things.

    As to the penalty, I don't know. Depends on what statute you were cited under. 318.18 (1)(b) calls for a $15 penalty for all violations of 316.2065 Bicycle Regulations, but if you weren't cited under that it doesn't apply. 316.1925 Careless driving I am not finding a specific penalty for. Maybe someone else can have better luck with this.

    I think I would just pay the penalty and put the whole thing in the "Lessons Learned" file.

  4. #4
    Senior Member closetbiker's Avatar
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    fight the ticket. It sounds like the cop doesn't know the law. I don't know the specifics of Florida traffic law, but common sense tells me if a bicycle is expected to stay on the right side of the lane, and that's where you were, you didn't violate any law. By going to court, you'll get a clarification and won't be any worse off than you are now and may possibly educate an officer. I'd bet if you were in front of a car riding on the road, the same cop would give you a ticket for obstructing traffic and tell you you should have been on the right side.
    Last edited by closetbiker; 03-30-08 at 11:29 AM.

  5. #5
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    This is an interesting case, can a cyclist not making a right turn then share the next lane over or do they have to take the lane?

    To clarify, were you behind the car at the stop sign and you pulled along side or was the car behind you and did they pull along side or did you both get there at near the same time?

    In general I think turning along side a car is a bit risky but I know people who filter to a position between the first and second car and make the left in a lane sharing position but in the gap between cars.
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  6. #6
    Devilmaycare Cycling Fool Allister's Avatar
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    Seems to me all you have to do to beat the ticket is show that you weren't 'careless'.
    If we learn from our mistakes, I must be a goddamn genius.

  7. #7
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    the car was first, i biked beside them, and then we each waited a few moments for a gap in traffic.

    Also, to Commuter Run, it isn't a simple T intersection. You can proceed straight and into a parking lot.

    I suppose i won't turn this way anymore, i generally would take the lane but this street is wide enough for me to feel safe making this type of turn and there usually aren't too many gaps in traffic as its a major campus entrance.

    I don't really want to get a careless driving citation, paying over a hundred dollars, getting points, and having my car insurance go up for a bike violation. I have to check with the Clerk of the court tomorrow, but the officer originally told me all that would stand. Later after talking with a fellow cop he said it may be a 40 dollar ticket and no points, he wasn't sure as Florida had recently changed its laws. He was nice enough, however, to call the clerk for me and check on the price and details of the citation. He then called me back saying it was 60 dollars, no points, and nothing on the record. When i plugged the citation number online with the clerk myself, it says it's a hundred dollar ticket and ill need driving school to not get the points. So right now im confused on the ticket, if there are no points and its less than a hundred ill pay it, i don't understand how the officer could call them right after pulling me over, ask about the details of the citation he just made and my case specifically, then be wrong.

    The cop who pulled me over, i believe was looking for a reason as i had maybe half an hour earlier been biking with a group, when the cop turned on his lights and was about to pull us over, i informed this very officer we were entitled full use of a lane so long as we rode two cyclists abreast. Even if he was ticked off with me for challenging his authority earlier, he was at least nice enough to get my cell number and call me back with the citation information, although i'm not sure its fully accurate.

  8. #8
    Senior Member closetbiker's Avatar
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    this is from a guide produced in BC on how to make turns



    Sounds to me you were where you should have been, but it doesn't matter what we all think here, it's what the law says. Not what the cops says or you say, it's how a court decides what should be done.

    It'd be in your best interest to goo to court to get it straightened out. Who knows, maybe in your neck of the woods, the rules are a little different, but I doubt it. My guess is you have an ignorant cop here.

  9. #9
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by philly_j View Post
    I suppose i won't turn this way anymore, i generally would take the lane but this street is wide enough for me to feel safe making this type of turn and there usually aren't too many gaps in traffic as its a major campus entrance.
    What do you mean? You mean that you will not share a lane when making a left-hand turn?

    Anyway, if you are really interested in fighting this, go to a local advocacy group and ask how the law is specifically applied in Florida. If you really want to win, ask for references to a lawyer knowledgeable about Florida cycling law.

    Quote Originally Posted by philly_j View Post
    ... i informed this very officer we were entitled full use of a lane so long as we rode two cyclists abreast.
    Is this true? What are the circumstances in Florida where one can take the lane?

  10. #10
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    I would fight it. Although, if the car was there first, I believe, technically, the car makes his turn. You wait at the stop sign & then make your turn.

    We had a meeting with our local bike club and they released the results of survey given to 100 random SC police officers. Over 78% of the bicycle law questions (there were only 4) were answered incorrectly by the people hired to "serve & protect". Fortunately this survey has help lead to some new bicycle legistlation that passed the house 2 weeks ago and is off to the senate.

  11. #11
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    Is this true? What are the circumstances in Florida where one can take the lane?

    316.2065 Bicycle regulations.
    --

    (6) 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 and shall ride within a single lane.

    what do you mean? You mean that you will not share a lane when making a left-hand turn?
    i mean, i guess ill have to wait behind the car then make my left. I can't afford the tickets even if i think i am in the right as a cyclist to determine the safety of my own turn.

    i would like to fight this, but i'm not sure if i can unless i had arrived at the stop sign first.

  12. #12
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by philly_j View Post

    316.2065 Bicycle regulations.
    --

    (6) 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 and shall ride within a single lane.


    i mean, i guess ill have to wait behind the car then make my left. I can't afford the tickets even if i think i am in the right as a cyclist to determine the safety of my own turn.

    i would like to fight this, but i'm not sure if i can unless i had arrived at the stop sign first.
    It sounds like the cop could have given you a ticket for riding two abreast if there was traffic behind you. Which is what I would expect from traffic law.

    I think you should talk to a Florida lawyer familiar with traffic law. When it comes to legal advice, you get what you pay for.

  13. #13
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    It sounds like the cop could have given you a ticket for riding two abreast if there was traffic behind you. Which is what I would expect from traffic law.
    That's a whole other issue. There was no traffic behind us at the time other than the cop car, he wasn't even following us, he pulled out of a spot waiting for speeders to follow us, he tried telling me we couldn't block traffic, to which i looked back, saw no one, and asked "what traffic?"

    Furthermore, so long as there are multiple lanes, i don't think bikes in the right lane are impeding traffic, cars are fully capable of passing on the left. I've never heard definite legal terminology stating what impeding traffic is.

  14. #14
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by philly_j View Post
    I've never heard definite legal terminology stating what impeding traffic is.
    Me neither. Although I suspect that a LEO's reasonable interpretation will often be enough for a judge.

    Perhaps I should explain my question a few posts back, you wrote something along the lines of that you were allowed to take the full lane as long as you rode two abreast. I never heard of a law that gave you extra privileges/rights for riding two abreast. I have always heard of extra penalties for riding two abreast; i.e., rules where it is legal to take the lane under certain circumstances that are independent of riding two abreast and rules that essentially say that you can only ride two abreast if there is little traffic. Is that what you really meant?

  15. #15
    Conservative Hippie
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    Taking the lane to make a left follows 316.2065 and 316.151 to the letter.

    Good luck if you pursue this. Please keep us posted on how it goes.

  16. #16
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    I think it's ambiguous and, frankly, I would like to see more cops giving out tickets for making turns like this alongside cars, because they are careless.

  17. #17
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by philly_j View Post
    I've never heard definite legal terminology stating what impeding traffic is.
    Bob Mionske in "Bicycling & the Law" says that impeding traffic is going slower then what you can reasonably go (paraphrased) otherwise we would be prohibited on all roads where we could not go the speed limit.
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  18. #18
    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head View Post
    ..., frankly, I would like to see more cops giving out tickets for making turns like this alongside cars, because they are careless.
    In my experience cars are more likely to do this then cyclists. Anyway, I always try to stress equal and fair enforcement on both sides.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member Kurt Erlenbach's Avatar
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    Under Florida law, you do not get points for an infraction while riding a bike. YOu probably should have waited for the car, and conceivably that could constitute careless driving. I think at worst you made an improper turn, and you should fight it. If you do not, make sure the clerk at the courthouse knows you were on a bike and does not give you the points.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by invisiblehand View Post
    Perhaps I should explain my question a few posts back, you wrote something along the lines of that you were allowed to take the full lane as long as you rode two abreast. I never heard of a law that gave you extra privileges/rights for riding two abreast. I have always heard of extra penalties for riding two abreast; i.e., rules where it is legal to take the lane under certain circumstances that are independent of riding two abreast and rules that essentially say that you can only ride two abreast if there is little traffic. Is that what you really meant?
    Essentially that is what i mean, you are allowed the rightmost lane when there is low traffic and cars can reasonably pass to the left. Here is a section from the Florida Bicycle Law Enforcement Guide,
    RIDING TWO ABREAST [316.2065(6)]
    ● Cyclists may ride two abreast only within a single
    lane and when not impeding traffic.
    ● Cyclists may not ride more than two abreast
    except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for
    the exclusive use of bicycles.
    In a lane "too narrow for a bicycle and another vehi-
    cle to travel safely side by side" (see "Position on
    roadway" above), passing cyclists "at a safe distance"
    requires use of the next lane (see
    "Overtaking and passing a vehicle" above). In this
    case, cyclists riding two abreast cause no additional
    impediment to traffic.

  21. #21
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    If a cyclist can be ticketed for making a turn in the same lane as a car, should we expect motorists who pass us without leaving their lane to get a citation? I'm betting not. It doesn't seem like equal protection of the law, does it? The trouble with most laws is that they were designed for cars with little thought to common sense and an alert cyclist. Riding two bikes abreast and holding up traffic isn't smart, but there are places where it can be done safely if there are multiple lanes and an entire group.

  22. #22
    Senior Member closetbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by philly_j View Post
    That's a whole other issue. There was no traffic behind us...
    Us? In the OP, there was no mention of us. Just you.

    Quote Originally Posted by philly_j View Post
    I was biking home from campus on a two lane street...I am riding on the right side of the left lane, i stop for the stop sign, along with a car...
    2 abreast is a different scenario.
    Last edited by closetbiker; 04-01-08 at 07:19 AM.

  23. #23
    Conservative Hippie
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head View Post
    I think it's ambiguous and, frankly, I would like to see more cops giving out tickets for making turns like this alongside cars, because they are careless.
    I fail to see anything ambiguous about this.

    316.151 gives two ways to make a left turn. (1) (b) describes making a left turn in a vehicle, and specifically mentions bicycles may take the lane to do this. (c) describes an alternative, for bicycles only, in a two step left. Sharing the lane with another vehicle through the turn is neither of these allowed methods.

    Since the far side of the intersection from the direction philly_j approaches is a parking lot, it is a "T" intersection. So the two step left cannot apply. A parking lot not being part of the roadway, and usually private property.

    316.2065 calls for riding as far to the right as practicable. However turning left is one of the listed exceptions to this requirement.

    I'm curious to find out what can be ambiguous about this.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by closetbiker View Post
    Us? In the OP, there was no mention of us. Just you.



    2 abreast is a different scenario.
    i was riding two abreast earlier with a group and stopped by this same officer.

  25. #25
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by philly_j View Post
    i was riding two abreast earlier with a group and stopped by this same officer.
    Tell the whole story from the beginning.
    Otherwise I remain confused as to what happened.

    Al

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