Kathy asked: Vehicle traveling on 3 lane busy road in rush hour traffic. 2 way with turn lane in the middle for intersection with stoplight. Vehicle stopped at light and needs to get into turn lane (approximately 5 cars back). Checked all mirrors with no oncoming traffic from the rear. Inched out from a stop to get into turn lane. Bicyclist has gotten in the lane on the driver’s side in the blind spot not a foot parallel to the car. As car turned into turn lane, bicycle and car collided. Does bicycle have right of way when all other traffic is stopped for a light and he is riding in my lane on my left side?
From the information you have provided, it is difficult to determine exactly what happened. The cyclist may not report the details in the same way and we don’t have the benefit of unbiased witnesses. The following are some comments and the statutes that apply.
You state that you checked your mirrors and there was no oncoming traffic from the rear, which apparently is not the case, since the cyclist was passing.
You indicated that you did not see the cyclist due to the blind spot in your mirrors. It is difficult to understand how you could determine that the cyclist was less than one foot from your vehicle if, as you stated, you didn’t see him. We are cautioned not to rely on our mirrors since they could be improperly adjusted, resulting in a blind spot.
Florida statutes require that we insure it is safe before changing lanes or moving left or right in the roadway.
s. 316.155 – When Signal Required
(1) No person may turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right or left upon a highway unless and until such movement can be made with reasonable safety…. in the event any other vehicle may be affected by the movement.
s. 316.089 – Driving on Roadways Laned for Traffic
Whenever any roadway has been divided into two or more clearly marked lanes for traffic, the following rules, in addition to all others consistent herewith, shall apply:
(1) A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from such lane until the driver has first ascertained that such movement can be made with safety.
s. 316.085 – Limitations on Overtaking, Passing, Changing Lanes and Changing Course
(2) No vehicle shall be driven from a direct course in any lane on any highway until the driver has determined that the vehicle is not being approached or passed by any other vehicle in the lane or on the side to which the driver desires to move and that the move can be completely made with safety and without interfering with the safe operation of any vehicle approaching from the same direction.
It also isn’t clear why a cyclist would pass a motor vehicle on the left side with only one foot of clearance if the adjacent lane was clear, particularly if your left turn indicator was flashing, as is required for moving laterally in the roadway.
s. 316.155 – When Signal Required
….and then only after giving an appropriate signal….
A cyclist in the left turn lane with the intent to turn left is entitled to use the full lane.
s. 316.151 – Required Position and Method of Turning at Intersections
(1) The driver of a vehicle intending to turn at an intersection shall do so as follows:
(b) Left Turn – ….A person riding a bicycle and intending to turn left in accordance with this section is entitled to the full use of the lane from which the turn may legally be made….
If in fact the cyclist was passing at a distance of less than one foot, he may not have been passing at the safe distance required by the statutes.
s. 316.083 – Overtaking and Passing a Vehicle
The following rules shall govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction, subject to those limitations, exceptions, and special rules hereinafter stated:
(1) The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction …. shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance….