Drivers Leaving a Shopping Plaza

Question

Karen asked: “On the roadway”, does this also include the sidewalk?  As is a person riding the bike against traffic runs into the car pulling out of a shopping plaza.  Who would be at fault?  The driver of the car isn’t looking for a bicyclist moving at a good pace on the sidewalk riding against traffic.

Answer

This is a common problem resulting in many crashes. As you mentioned, motorists entering a roadway typically do not expect traffic from the right and frequently do not look in that direction.

The roadway does not include the sidewalk.

s. 316.003 – Definitions

(42) Roadway

(a) That part of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel…

(70) Sidewalk – That portion of a street between the curbline, or the lateral line, of a roadway and the adjacent property lines, intended for use by pedestrians.

A person riding a bicycle on the sidewalk has the rights and duties of a pedestrian under the same circumstances and can ride in either direction. If riding against the flow of traffic on the roadway, extra caution is recommended.

s. 316.2065 – Bicycle Regulations

(9) A person propelling a vehicle by human power upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, has all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.

The driveway in this situation is crossing a crosswalk, whether marked or unmarked as such

s. 316.003 – Definitions

(6) Crosswalk

(a) That part of a roadway at an intersection included within the connections of the lateral lines of the sidewalks on opposite sides of the highway ….

Motorists crossing a crosswalk are required to stop and yield to pedestrians (and bicyclists with the rights and duties of pedestrians) that are within the crosswalk. That may or may not be controlled by traffic control devices.

s. 316.130 – Pedestrians; Traffic Regulations

(7)(a) The driver of a vehicle at an intersection that has a traffic control signal in place shall stop before entering the crosswalk and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian, with a permitted signal, to cross a roadway when the pedestrian is in the crosswalk or steps into the crosswalk and is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.

(b) The driver of a vehicle at any crosswalk where signage so indicates shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross a roadway when the pedestrian is in the crosswalk or steps into the crosswalk and is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.

(c) When traffic control signals are not in place or in operation and there is no signage indicating otherwise, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.

If the pedestrian or bicyclist is not actually in the crosswalk, and there is no traffic signal (traffic light), the motorist must obey any traffic control device (stop or yield sign).

In any event, the pedestrian or bicyclist must not leave a curb or other place of safety and step into the path of a motor vehicle.

(8) No pedestrian (bicyclist) shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.

Posted in Ask Geo, Sidewalks & Crosswalks
15 comments on “Drivers Leaving a Shopping Plaza
  1. Karen says:

    Thank you for your response. It was impossible for the driver to yield. The rider of the bike did leave the sidewalk to cross the entrance to the shopping plaza…driver wasn’t given a ticket. Driver explained that he had to stop for oncoming traffic and did look both ways. Biker was careless.

    • HarryB says:

      Karen wrote in part: “It was impossible for the driver to yield. . .Biker was careless.”

      If I understand the situation correctly, the bicyclist was riding on the sidewalk and the driver emerged from a private road or driveway and drove across the sidewalk as the bicyclist was approaching. Unless a local ordinance forbids otherwise, the bicyclist was riding legally regardless of which direction he or she was traveling.

      The law required the driver to stop prior to driving across the sidewalk and yield to any approaching traffic on the road AND on the sidewalk: “The driver of a vehicle emerging from an alley, building, private road or driveway within a business or residence district shall stop the vehicle immediately prior to driving onto a sidewalk or onto the sidewalk area extending across the alley, building entrance, road or driveway, or in the event there is no sidewalk area, shall stop at the point nearest the street to be entered where the driver has a view of approaching traffic thereon and shall yield to all vehicles and pedestrians which are so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard.” § 316.125(2) Fla. Stat.

      The fact that the bicyclist and vehicle collided proves the bicyclist was so close as to constitute an immediate hazard and I do not understand why the driver was not cited. And I certainly do not understand why the bicyclist was careless because he or she did not violate the driver’s right-of-way.

  2. phil Leinbach says:

    I live this every day. There are several driveways from shopping centers that cross sidewalks with stop signs that no one every stops at. They also block the cross walk and I can’t even go around the front of them because they never look right (that would interfere with their cell phones in their right hand), they look for the next opening and nail the gas pedal. I scream, yell, wave my arms, jump up and down and nothing gets their attention so, I’m stuck there until they leave. I’ve been complaining to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s office since 2008 and they refuse to do anything. These people are breaking at least 2 laws and if I say anything to them I get death threats, “I’ll run you over next time” or “I’ll blow your %^$^^ head off” (which is another crime). Can I get any help with this??? Who do I contact? Who does the Pinellas County Sheriff’s office report to?

  3. Geo says:

    Phil,

    You can express your concerns to the County Community Traffic Safety Team:

    http://www.tampabaytrafficsafety.com/CTST/_layouts/15/start.aspx#/SitePages/Pinellas.aspx

    • Karen says:

      I would say to Phil for the matter of safety and you already expect these things would be to at least travel the direction of traffic flow to avoid being hit by drivers (even good drivers) looking the opposite direction to enter the flow of traffic.

  4. Karl says:

    While riding a bicycle it is critical to put your safety first! Expect that drivers do not see you. This is especially important at intersections when you are outside of the driver’s normal scan area. Examples include riding against traffic on the roadway, with traffic on the roadway but outside of the traffic lane (think on the very edge of the lane or on the shoulder), on sidewalks, or on shared use paths.
    However, I believe that too often the law enforcement fails to enforce the following:
    316.130 (15) Notwithstanding other provisions of this chapter, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or any person propelling a human-powered vehicle and give warning when necessary and exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused or incapacitated person.

  5. If drivers in a shopping center driveway often block the sidewalk crossing area long enough to oblige a cyclist approaching on the sidewalk to stop or slow, evidently they are stopping, at least some of the time. As a runner who runs a counterclockwise loop, I usually try to swerve behind such vehicles (rather than take the time to try to establish eye contact), although even going behind them must be done carefully because another driver who might be turning into the driveway at the same moment might not have seen me.

    Typical cycling speed is greater than (approximately double, in my case) running speed, requiring more use of brain executive function to manage driveway conflicts successfully if I ride on the sidewalk (so, usually, I don’t).

  6. HarryB says:

    I don’t know anything about Phil’s particular situation, but I’ve ridden many a mile on sidewalks against the flow of traffic on the parallel road because I deemed it safer or more convenient than riding in the road or trying to cross it and ride with traffic on the other side. The incredibly poor design, or even lack of pedestrian and bicycle facilities often forces people who are not driving around in motor vehicles to make difficult choices between dangerous options.

    For example, recently an FHP officer and I were discussing some of the dangers of poorly designed pedestrian and bicycle facilities when he described a crash to which he had responded—I was pleasantly surprised at his understanding of the dangers we often face. The essential elements were similar to what you described, and maybe Phil’s as well, but in this case the bicyclist was traveling on a narrow shoulder against traffic. (The location was here: 28.809210, -82.576561 ) As she approached a vehicle which had been stopped on Faust Ln, the driver suddenly accelerated and collided with the bicyclist (neither the cyclist nor the young child in the child seat behind her were seriously injured.) The officer correctly cited the driver, but mentioned to me that he could have citied the bicyclist as well. (I fail to understand what statute he thought she might have violated, but I didn’t get the chance to ask.)

    He said the reason he cited only the driver was because he felt the bicyclist had chosen the safer route despite riding against traffic. She was riding from McDonald’s and was headed to her home in the mobile home park about 1/8 mile north of where she was struck. He said that it would have been more dangerous for her to attempt to cross the busy highway at McDonald’s, ride north in the gutter (there isn’t even a shoulder on part of the northbound section of the road), and then cross that busy highway again to get into the mobile home park where she lives.

    • HarryB says:

      My second comment was a reply to what Karen wrote: “I would say to Phil for the matter of safety and you already expect these things would be to at least travel the direction of traffic flow to avoid being hit by drivers (even good drivers) looking the opposite direction to enter the flow of traffic.”

      For some reason the software did not place my response in the proper order.

  7. Geo says:

    HarryB,

    Your quote of 316.125 is correct, but from the information provided, I couldn’t determine if the circumstances met the requirement that the driver was entering the roadway from an “alley, building, private road or driveway”, so I didn’t include that statute. Many shopping centers have driveways that are public roadways and may be controlled by traffic control devices.

    • HarryB says:

      Geo,

      I agree, initially the OP provided very little information, but I had the benefit of also reading her response which provided additional clues.

      For example, in that response she wrote in part: “Driver explained that he had to stop for oncoming traffic and did look both ways.” I concluded from this sentence that the driver was not facing a traffic signal with a green indication and was therefore required by statute, if not by a STOP or YIELD sign, to yield to all approaching traffic, including anyone on the sidewalk whether walking, running, or riding a bicycle.

      I envisioned a situation similar to this one where I have occasionally ridden on the sidewalk against traffic on the parallel road: http://tinyurl.com/hzhyeeq

      I wonder who determined that “it was impossible for the driver to yield”; that the bicyclist was “moving at a good pace”, and that he was “careless”. How did the OP know the driver did not receive a ticket?

      Maybe Karen would be willing to tell us the precise location of the crash and if STOP or YIELD signs or traffic signals were in place. I fear she may have reached a wrong conclusion because based on what I read I think the driver was at fault despite not having been cited.

      • Karen says:

        The driver was attempting to pull out onto the main road from a shopping plaza. At the entrance / exit the driver stopped to look for an opening to then merge into traffic ..a 3 lane road all headed east. So driver pulled up then stopped..looking west. At the moment or within seconds the bicyclist hit right side bumper. If a vehicle is not moving then how is yielding possible? Therefore, the bicyclist a vehicle then should have yielded. That is why from my understanding he (the driver) wasn’t cited. The bicyclist was riding against traffic approaching a busy plaza and should have used extra precaution or common sense. I’m sure that most of the time drivers would be at fault but in this case apparently not.

      • HarryB says:

        Karen,

        From what you have written, I gather there is no traffic light at this location, so § 316.125(2) Fla. Stat. (which I quoted earlier) would govern the movements of the driver.

        1) You wrote: “At the entrance / exit the driver stopped to look for an opening to then merge into traffic ..a 3 lane road all headed east.” § 316.125(2) required the driver to “…stop the vehicle immediately prior to driving onto a sidewalk…” and then to “…yield to all vehicles and pedestrians which are so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard.” So, the driver was required to come to a complete stop and not proceed onto the sidewalk until he was able to do so without creating an immediate hazard to anyone who might be approaching from either direction on the sidewalk.

        Nothing that you have written implies the driver looked BOTH ways. Not having done so constituted carelessness on the part of the driver because it endangered people on the sidewalk, in this case the bicyclist who was riding legally on the sidewalk.

        2) You wrote: “So driver pulled up then stopped..looking west.” When he stopped, his vehicle blocked the sidewalk which was illegal: “…no person shall: (a) Stop, stand, or park a vehicle (2) On a sidewalk.” § 316.1945(1).

        3) You wrote: “At the moment or within seconds (of the driver pulling forward and then stopping) the bicyclist hit right side bumper.” Bicycles, like other vehicles, can not stop on a dime; and bicyclists can not react instantaneously just like motorists can’t. The bicyclist needed time to realize the vehicle had pulled out in front of him or her, needed time to reach for the brakes, and then needed a certain distance to bring the bicycle to a controlled stop.

        If the bicyclist hit the side of the vehicle “at the moment or within seconds” of the driver pulling into the bicyclist’s path and then stopping, it is clear evidence the driver violated the bicyclist’s right-of-way because the driver’s actions created an immediate hazard which the bicyclist was apparently unable to avoid.

        4) You wrote, “If a vehicle is not moving then how is yielding possible?” Whether the vehicle was moving or stopped at the instant of the collision is irrelevant because § 316.125(2) required the driver to respect the superior right of the bicyclist on the sidewalk to continue on his or her way by requiring the driver to wait (yield) until his vehicle did not create a hazard to the approaching bicyclist.

        5) You wrote, “The bicyclist was riding against traffic approaching a busy plaza and should have used extra precaution or common sense.” According to what you wrote, the bicyclist was riding legally but the driver violated two laws by illegally pulling forward into the path of the approaching bicyclist and then illegally stopping on the sidewalk.

        The driver was undoubtedly not harmed—the bicyclist may have been injured or could have been killed. Common sense dictates that the person who creates the greater danger bears the greater responsibility to avoid a collision.

      • Karen says:

        Thank you for your response. The driver was not cited in this case. Maybe visual obstruction from landscaping, I don’t know. Also, maybe he did look both ways, I don’t know. Maybe, the bicyclist wasnt on the sidewalk and should have been cited for traveling against traffic. The officers involved I’m sure factored in all of the facts iincluding the very minor damage to both vehicles.
        Personally, this young man on the bike wasnt your athletic type in racing spandex and a helmet maybe had something else in mind. Luckily, he is okay from what I understand. He will ride again to the liquor store.

  8. Frans Andrea says:

    Was not the biker suppose to stop first, prior to crossing the intersection? As pedestrians are required to do!

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