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The Villages
Friday, June 21, 2024

Multi-modal paths are not only for golf carts

Lady Lake Police Chief Chris McKinstry

The term “Multi-modal” is commonly used to describe shared use paths, since it accommodates multiple forms of transit.

Multi-modal or Shared-Use Paths are paved, off-street travel ways designed to serve non-motorized travelers. Across our community, golf carts and bicyclists are typically the most common users of shared-use paths. However, shared-use paths are frequently also used by pedestrians, roller skaters, skateboarders, wheelchair users, and users of many other modes except automotive.

Diamonds painted on the road indicate a restricted lane, which means only vehicles meeting certain criteria may use the lane. This is usually further indicated by a sign with the same diamond on it, displayed overhead of the lane or at the side of the road, or painted on the lane, which describes the restriction.

Local government agencies are frequently asked who is allowed to use the Multi-modal paths.

Within the Town of Lady Lake, Avenida Central, Del Mar Drive, Rio Grand Avenue and Chula Vista Avenue all have side lanes with the diamond painted on them. These are designated as PED or pedestrian lanes. It is a common misunderstanding that these lanes are dedicated for golf cart use only. These are considered “Shared-Use” lanes since pedestrians, bicycles and golf carts may utilize them. 

Florida State Statute provides guidance for pedestrians while using a PED lane adjacent to a roadway.

316.130 – Pedestrians; Traffic Regulations

(4) Where sidewalks are not provided, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall, when practicable, walk only on the shoulder on the left side of the roadway in relation to the pedestrian’s direction of travel, facing traffic which may approach from the opposite direction.

Florida Greenbook provides the following definition:

Paved facilities physically separated from motorized vehicular traffic by an open space or barrier. May be within the highway right of way or an independent right of way, with minimal cross flow by motor vehicles. Users are non-motorized and may include: pedestrians, bicyclists, skaters, people with disabilities and others.

On shared-use facilities, the presence of pedestrians can be detrimental to golf cart or bicycle operation because pedestrians move at much lower speeds, which is one of the reasons that The Villages, as well as other areas of town, are designated as “Golf Cart Communities.” This designation allows golf carts to travel on the same roadways as regular vehicular traffic. Signs are posted in these areas to designate the allowable use and end at signs with “No Golf Carts Beyond this Point.” Nothing in these areas restrict the golf carts to use the side lanes; they have the same use of the entire roadway as vehicular traffic. 

It is important to remember that blind and mobility-impaired residents will also utilize our Multi-modal paths. Other users should be cognizant of their requirements to yield the right of way in the following circumstances.

Blind Persons

The primary traveling aids for a person who is blind are often a white cane or a trained guide dog. Independent travel involves some risk that can be greatly reduced when you are aware of the use and meaning of a white cane or guide dog.

Florida State Statutes specifically addresses motorist responsibilities as follows:

Whenever a pedestrian is crossing, or attempting to cross, a public street or highway, guided by a dog guide or carrying in a raised or extended position a cane or walking stick which is white in color or white tipped with red, the driver of every vehicle approaching the intersection or place where the pedestrian is attempting to cross shall bring his or her vehicle to a full stop before arriving at such intersection or place of crossing and, before proceeding, shall take such precautions as may be necessary to avoid injuring such pedestrian.

Simply put, that means drivers must always yield the right-of-way to persons who are blind. When a pedestrian is crossing a street or highway guided by a dog or carrying a white cane (or a white cane with a red tip), vehicles must come to a complete stop.

Mobility-Impaired Persons

Drivers must yield the right-of-way to mobility-impaired persons and pedestrians utilizing the assistance of a guide dog or service animal. When a pedestrian is crossing a public street or highway and the pedestrian is using a walker, a crutch or an orthopedic cane or wheelchair, vehicles must come to a complete stop.

The men and women of the Lady Lake Police Department want you to have an enjoyable experience on our Multi-modal paths. They are a part of what makes this such a unique community. Remember that a little courtesy goes a long way in reducing stress or the potential for accident or injury. Please be safe.

Chris McKinstry is chief of police in Lady Lake.

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