Crash in a Crosswalk

Question

Kirsten asked: My friend and her husband got hit by a woman in a car, while they were on their bikes in a crosswalk. No one was injured but their bikes got messed up. The woman who hit them, called the law and my friend and her husband were told they would be ticketed for going the wrong way in the cross walk if they were to press charges against the woman. Obviously being they were in a crosswalk there is no right or wrong way, so was the woman who hit them in the wrong?

Answer

When in a crosswalk, cyclists have the same rights and duties as pedestrians.

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.

For a pedestrian or a bicyclist on a sidewalk or crosswalk, there is no right or wrong direction.

Drivers must yield to pedestrians and cyclists in a crosswalk. However, they must already be in the crosswalk in sufficient time to allow the other driver to see them and yield. Whether anyone was at fault would be determined by the nature of the intersection, position and speed of all parties before the incident.

There is a full discussion in this post and the comments that follow.

http://flbikelaw.org/2016/03/drivers-must-yield-to-pedestrians/

Posted in Ask Geo, Sidewalks & Crosswalks
18 comments on “Crash in a Crosswalk
  1. Phil Leinbach says:

    It’s sad when law enforcement doesn’t know the law. I fight this battle in Pinellas County all the time. I would welcome a meeting with the sheriff so I can explain the law to him. It’s like the bicyclist is always wrong.

    • Linda says:

      CrossWALK not CrossRIDE ! When crossing children at a young age in the crosswalk as a CROSSING GUARD I have to nicely verbally tell the children to get off their bikes or bicycle and walk the bike across in crosswalk. That was part of my job and that was the rules that I had to abide by and teach them.
      Bike Lane for bicyclist going by the law riding bicycle in same direction as traffic for green light! So I fine it difficult to see to see a person on sidewalk with telephone poles riding bicycle in opposite direction as me, a far distance away before the light and them not stopping to push button for the walk single they just straight ride into the road. I can’t stop on a dime. I’ve been lucky to not hit anyone and then turn corner and people are crossing when my eyes just see them. They want to go between two cars in stopped in traffic and than cross. I see it is dangerous for everyone involved in this hurry state of mind way of life. I can say I have been rear ended 3 times in 6 years and almost run over by someone not stopping for me and student in crosswalk because they took a right turn blew the stop sign to get in front of traffic that was a mile long. Them never thinking of looking to the right before turning onto another street IN FRONT OF A SCHOOL!
      I have to say the School bus drivers, Teachers, Mothers that drive SUV’s and City Buses I had to call out for speeding and let companies know who they were! One time I saw the middle school police office two seconds later coming out the side street and officer wondered why I was yelling at the car, I told him looks like he was going at least 35mph in 15 school zone he decided to go after and Police office told me later it was someone on the school board! He only gave him a verbal warning because he wasn’t there to see him speeding in that school zone.
      Now my mom is blind and she would never be able to walk in crosswalk without my eyes. Blind have the right too! I have studied watching people for many years at the lights and in school zones. I have been a crossing guard and a sign advertiser and seen so much in 12 years with more than 20,000 hours I just don’t know how to write or I would write a book on it. So everyone keeps your ears and eyes open and get off your phones and try to see whats around you. Lastly people have done UTURNS and almost up the back of my heals on the sidewalk . Just because I have an arrow sign???? Doesn’t mean turn around and turn here to do U eee! Are they driving on drugs????

      • Raj Bhatt says:

        I respect your service as a crossing guard for all these years but in relation to the article, your comment really doesn’t make much sense. The law is clear, if the bicycle was in the crosswalk and entered with enough time to allow the oncoming vehicle to stop, then the vehicle who hit the bicycle is totally in the wrong.

        That being said, if the bicycle abruptly entered the crosswalk and didn’t allow the motorist sufficient time to respond, then the bicyclist is at fault. Of course, we don’t live in a perfect world and that can be a very difficult to determine.

  2. More information about the incident and location would be needed to judge whether the driver was entirely “in the wrong”. For example, did the cyclists enter the crosswalk on a Walk indication, or at some other time? In any case, there is no right or wrong direction for a pedestrian to take in a crosswalk, thus no duty for a cyclist to take a particular direction in a crosswalk. A citation must cite the particular section of the Florida Uniform Traffic Control Law a ticketed individual is deemed to have violated.

  3. tanner says:

    A motor vehicle failing to yield to pedestrian and non motorized traffic is a violation of the law. All motorized vehicles must yield to anybody in a crosswalk. Read florida driver hand book. Get report from police and call attorney asap to recover cost of bicycles.

  4. Keithmj says:

    Did you have the walk signal or the wait signal? If there was no signal were you in the crosswalk before the car turned? Did you stop before entering the crosswalk? Were you riding your bikes in the crosswalk or pushing them. Did you even look for cars? These are questions that needs to be answered. Any pedestrian should look before walking, so should someone on a bike.

    • HarryB says:

      Let’s not get too carried away in trying to excuse the driver. Assuming it was at an unsignalized intersection (the OP didn’t mention anything about a pedestrian crossing signal), the driver’s responsibility was very clear: “… 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…” § 316.130(7)(c), Fla. Stat. (emphasis mine).

      Furthermore, the Statute placed an additional responsibility on the driver: “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…” § 316.130(15), Fla. Stat.

      Please note that the statute doesn’t say that the driver only needs to yield if the bicyclists stopped before entering the crosswalk; or if the bicyclists looked before entering the crosswalk; or if the bicyclists were walking their bikes. All it says is that the driver SHALL yield to the bicyclists who were in the crosswalk.

      Which means that as the driver approached the crosswalk, she should have been looking to make sure that no pedestrians or bicyclists were already in the crosswalk, or might be by the time she entered it. The bicyclists had the legal right to expect the driver to obey the law and not anticipate she might violate it.

      Unless there is mitigating information the OP withheld, I believe it is clear the driver violated the bicyclists’ right to cross the road in the crosswalk—the LEO’s response is shocking.

      The Court of Appeals of North Carolina put it succinctly: “To a pedestrian the right-of-way means that he has the right to continue in his direction of travel without anticipating negligence on the part of motorists. Unless the circumstances are sufficient to give him notice to the contrary, he may act upon the assumption, even to the last moment, that motorists will recognize such a preferential right.” Wagoner v Butcher, 170 S.E.2d 151 (1969)

      • Keithmj says:

        True. But if the car was turning and already crossing the crosswalk and the bikes ran into the vehicle they were still hit by the car. They are still required to make sure no vehicle is turning and they should yield to the driver if the driver is there before they are. That is why it is dangerous to ride on a sidewalk, riders think they have the right of way all the time and zip across an intersection without even looking.

        If the bike rider or pedestrian is already in the crosswalk then the motorist must yield to them. No one said the cyclist had to stop, where you got that idea I don’t know? Any person crossing should always look for turning vehicles when they know so many people get hit from turning vehicles, it is only common sense.

        The key to the laws is “to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk…” it doesn’t say to an approaching pedestrian, but then again if a pedestrian is going to be there before the car the driver should yield, which most don’t do.

        Pedestrians, cyclists and walkers and runners on the sidewalk have laws that they should obey too, such as not crossing when there is a crosswalk signal that says to wait and they cross anyway, which some don’t do, which is not an excuse to hit someone. We really don’t know what happened, neither did the officer. There is more to the story we don’t know but until then all people should look before crossing any street, whether required to or not.

  5. HarryB says:

    Keithmj:

    You wrote: “That is why it is dangerous to ride on a sidewalk, riders think they have the right of way all the time and zip across an intersection without even looking.”

    There is nothing inherently dangerous about riding on sidewalks—they are supposed to be places of safety, physically separated from the dangers of motorized traffic. This physical separation legally extends across the road in a crosswalk (whether marked or not), and the users of sidewalks have a statutory right to continue their travels across the road in preference to drivers’ right to continue on their travels over the crosswalk. Only at signalized intersections is this preferential right to cross the road constrained by the signals.

    The danger to which you refer comes from drivers who violate sidewalk users’ right-of-way by crossing the sidewalk or the crosswalk without yielding to pedestrians and bicyclists who are legally in that area of safety. There is no statutory requirement for pedestrians or bicyclists to yield to vehicles in this situation: the full responsibility of who must yield to whom lies with the driver.

    There seems to be an idea that crosswalks are like 4-way stop intersections: whoever arrives first has the right-of-way, and the other party is required to yield. But that is not what the law says.

    You wrote, “The key to the laws is “to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk…” it doesn’t say to an approaching pedestrian…”

    Of course drivers can’t yield to pedestrians or bicyclists who are approaching the crosswalk because they’re not yet in the crosswalk! But it is the responsibility of drivers who are approaching crosswalks to maintain a proper lookout for pedestrians and bicyclists who are also approaching the crosswalk, not the other way round.

    When the driver spots an approaching pedestrian or bicyclist he or she is required to slow down or stop if need be to so yield to that person the instant he or she enters the crosswalk.

    Absent inexcusable sight line issues, if a driver did not see a person in the crosswalk I maintain that he or she was not maintaining a proper lookout because the person didn’t just magically appear out of thin air!

    • Keithmj says:

      This is where you and I see the law from a different view. Who ever is at the intersection first has the right of way. Just because they are on the sidewalk does not automatically give them the right of way.
      Part of law says, “No pedestrian 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.”
      We were taught to always look before crossing the street. We would expect it to be safer on sidewalks but that doesn’t always mean it is but if a person is already in a crosswalk they legally have the right of way.

  6. HarryB says:

    Keithmj:

    You wrote: “Who ever is at the intersection first has the right of way.”

    Although this is true at a few uncontrolled intersections, priority is usually assigned by traffic control devices such as STOP or YIELD signs or traffic lights. But crosswalks are different: priority is assigned by statute, namely § 316.130(7) and § 316.130(2), Fla. Stat., not by arrival time.

    You wrote: “Just because they are on the sidewalk does not automatically give them the right of way.” Sure it does: Motorists are not permitted to drive on a sidewalk (§ 316.1995), and before they even cross a sidewalk they must first stop and yield to any pedestrians which are so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard § 316.125(2). Furthermore, drivers are not even permitted to block a sidewalk or crosswalk by stopping on them § 316.1945(1)(a)(2) and (1)(a)(4).

    I believe the Legislature made it very clear: The right of pedestrians who are travelling on a sidewalk or in a crosswalk to continue on their way is always superior to that of drivers to continue on they way absent contrary instructions from a traffic light. Drivers must respect that right by yielding to pedestrians (and bicyclists) who are traveling on a sidewalk or crossing the road in a crosswalk.

    You wrote: “Part of law says, ‘No pedestrian 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.'”

    I don’t know why that statute, § 316.130(8), is so often used in an attempt to defend negligent drivers. Let’s carefully consider what that statute actually says:

    1) “No pedestrian shall SUDDENLY…” Suddenly is the operative word in that sentence and everything needs to be considered in its light. A person who is walking at a given speed and enters a crosswalk at that same speed can not be construed as having done anything “suddenly”. The same principal applies to a pedestrian who is running or a bicyclist who is riding on a sidewalk. If these people enter the crosswalk at the same speed as they approached it, their actions were predictable, and a driver who was keeping a proper lookout should have been able to anticipate when the person would enter the crosswalk.

    This law hinges on the operative word, suddenly. If the person’s actions were not sudden (because they were consistent and predictable), the rest of the section is irrelevant.

    2) “…leave a curb or other place of safety…” All areas between the curbs or the edges of the traversable roadway are considered part of the roadway where drivers have the right-of-way (and therefore endanger pedestrians). All other areas between the curbs and the adjacent property lines or within a crosswalk are places of safety where pedestrians have priority and drivers must always yield to them.

    3) “…and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.” It is the responsibility of drivers to exercise due care to avoid colliding with pedestrians (§ 316.130[15]), but if the pedestrian’s movements were sudden and could not have been anticipated, and it was impossible for the driver to avoid colliding with said pedestrian, the driver can not be held liable for the ensuing collision. But, the law clearly states that it needs to be impossible, not merely inconvenient (because the driver was in a hurry, tailgating, putting on lipstick, shaving, or playing with a smart device) to avoid colliding with the pedestrian.

    Just because a driver was not keeping a proper lookout and failed to notice a pedestrian approaching and then entering the crosswalk does not mean the pedestrian suddenly left a place of safety.

    • Keithmj says:

      My advise to a pedestrian or runner or cyclists or anyone using a sidewalk for any purpose or reason who are at an intersection, with or without a control device to always look before crossing and even if you have the right of way do not assume that you will be given that right and be prepared to stop or get out of the way.
      I also advise any person on a sidewalk that even if the sidewalk is suppose to be a “Safe Place” for you do not assume that it will always be a safe place as vehicles at some time or place will have to cross that sidewalk and that you should always be aware of what is going on around you and assume that others will at sometime or other do something stupid that could or would put your life in danger. Always remember that even if you have the right of way or it is your right to do it you might not get it from others for one reason or another.
      Use common sense, use defensive walking, riding, running or driving, just thank drivers or wave at drivers who do what they are suppose to do.
      As I was taught, always look both ways before crossing the street, better yet, look twice.

  7. HarryB says:

    The OP asked this question: “Obviously being they were in a crosswalk there is no right or wrong way, so was the woman who hit them in the wrong?”

    Her question was a legal one and my comments were written from that perspective.

    I disagreed with this response: “Drivers must yield to pedestrians and cyclists in a crosswalk. However, they must already be in the crosswalk in sufficient time to allow the other driver to see them and yield. Whether anyone was at fault would be determined by the nature of the intersection, position and speed of all parties before the incident.”

    Someone was at fault because someone violated someone’s right-of-way—it was not an “accident”. And I believe the law is crystal clear: pedestrians and bicyclists always have the right-of-way in a crosswalk at an unsignalized intersection.

    I can find no law or caselaw to support the contention that the pedestrian or bicyclist must be in the crosswalk for some nebulous period of time determined by the driver before they acquire the right-of-way—they have it the instant they enter the crosswalk. (Which is not to say a person should enter a crosswalk in total disregard for their own safety, but that does not change the laws regarding who has the right-of-way.)

    And I felt Keithmj’s response went even further in absolving the driver of her responsibility to avoid colliding with the bicyclists.

    My hope is that I have helped provide the OP with some additional information so her friends can decide whether or not to attempt to recover damages.

  8. Keithmj says:

    I seen another bicyclist laying in a driveway yesterday that was hit by a driver pulling out of a business, he was in bad shape, the driver is, I would say, responsible for hitting the bicycle for not looking to the right again to make sure there was no one walking or riding on the sidewalk before pulling out.
    I see probably two or three cyclists that are hit by cars each week, I know that riding on a sidewalk you can ride any direction you want but everyone of the accidents I have seen have been when the cyclist is riding facing oncoming traffic, or against the flow of traffic.The car driver is looking in the direction that the traffic is coming from, not to the right, we all do it.
    The cyclist that got hit was no accident, I call it a preventable accident, as it could of been avoided if the driver looked right and if the bike rider made sure that the driver seen them before riding in front of the car.
    Kirsten’s question is hard to answer as we don’t know what the Officer means when he says ” they would be ticketed for going the wrong way in the cross walk” I have never heard of a one way sidewalk? Unless she means that they were in a bike lane going against the traffic going across the intersection and not on the sidewalk. Bike lanes go with the flow of traffic.
    Obey the laws, use common sense, and think that people will do stupid stuff will keep you safe.

  9. Geo says:

    Keithmj,

    This post includes a statute that is specific to sidewalk cyclists and motorists entering a roadway across a sidewalk.
    http://flbikelaw.org/2015/07/2537/

    • Keithmj says:

      Thanks. I understand that, what I was saying is that if they were in a bike lane, not on the sidewalk, going the wrong direction, crossing the intersection, the cyclists could get a ticket, maybe they said they were in the bike lane. And the driver could get a ticket for not yielding to the cyclist. Unless the officer was stupid of the laws or just didn’t want to mess with it that would be the only reason to give a ticket to the cyclists. We just don’t know the whole story as to why it happened. Drivers these days just don’t care what our rights are when riding a bike, we are in their way.

  10. evirginia says:

    A local debate in North Florida has people saying you cannot RIDE your bike in a crosswalk, you must walk it. Is this true, and what is the relevant statute to show folks saying this?

  11. Geo says:

    evirginia,

    Rather than ask what the statute allows riding in a crosswalk, we should ask if there is a statute that prohibits it. Lacking such a state statute, it is allowed unless there is a local ordinance that so states. You can search for local ordinances by typing “Muni Codes” and your county or city.

    In any event, this post covers the topic and the wording of the statute clearly indicates that propelling a bicycle in a crosswalk (or on a sidewalk) is allowed. It would be hard to construe that to mean only walking the bike.

    http://flbikelaw.org/2016/10/dismount-in-crosswalk/

Leave a Reply to Keithmj Cancel reply