Crosswalk Crash

Question

Ryder asked: The scene is one person is riding their bike on the sidewalk East Bound in Orlando city limits and there is also a Bike route on the road, but they choose to ride on the sidewalk, going the opposite way of traffic and they are riding about 10 miles per hour approaching a street crossing and crosswalk. The street that is crossing the bicycle path on the sidewalk runs North and South so the bicycle will travel across this North/South bound roadway through the crosswalk as they travel East bound.  The North Bound traffic on the road the bicycle will cross has a stop sign where both roads meet.
There is a huge sign to bike’s left front about 150 feet away at the corner where the street and crosswalk are. The bike coming on the sidewalk opposite way of traffic cannot clearly see if cars are approaching the intersection from the north due to huge sign. There is a car approaching headed North bound and the car approaching the crosswalk has a stop sign and the bike would be traveling in front of this car at the intersection across the crosswalk.
The car stops behind the stop sign and the driver cannot see anyone coming nor is anyone on the 80 feet of sidewalk they can see to their right passenger side, but since there is the same sign that is blocking bike view for approaching cars is also blocking driver view of anyone further down the sidewalk than say 80 feet or so because the sign is blocking the driver full view past 80 feet to their right (which is where the bicycle is coming from on sidewalk and is hidden by the huge sign) so car has to pull up to see around sign before it pulls out and this is when the bicycle is now seen coming fast and there is no time to react the bike comes through the cross walk so fast they cannot stop and hits the car on the passenger side fender just behind the front passenger tire.
Who is at fault? The car who had to pull up to see around sign that got hit by the bike riding fast into crosswalk and hitting the car or is the bike at fault for not taking safety in mind and making sure it was safe to ride out into crosswalk and not yielding right of way to the car since car was already in the crosswalk?

Answer

On this site we don’t determine fault in incidents. There are too many variables and we don’t have first-hand knowledge of all the facts. Fault is determined by law enforcement and the court. Below are some of the statutes and regulations that may apply.

Was the cyclist legally riding on the sidewalk?

Orlando, Florida – Code of Ordinances

Chapter 10 – BICYCLES AND BICYCLE PATHS

Sec. 10.15. – Riding on Sidewalks; Joint Use as Bicycle Path.No person shall ride a bicycle on a sidewalk within the corporate limits of the City unless the sidewalk has been designated for joint use as a bicycle path and posted with appropriate signs indicating such use.

Was the motorist legally in the crosswalk?

s. 316.1945Stopping, Standing, or Parking Prohibited in Specified Places

(1) Except when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic, or in compliance with law or the directions of a police officer or official traffic control device, no person shall:

(a) Stop, stand, or park a vehicle:

4. On a crosswalk.

When on a sidewalk, bicyclists 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.

Drivers at a stop sign must stop and yield to other traffic on the highway, which includes the sidewalk, before entering the crosswalk.

s. 316.123Vehicle Entering Stop or Yield Intersection

(2)(a) …. every driver of a vehicle approaching a stop intersection indicated by a stop sign shall stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway before entering the intersection. After having stopped, the driver shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle which has entered the intersection from another highway or which is approaching so closely on said highway as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time when the driver is moving across or within the intersection.

The rules for right of way at intersections are pretty clear.

s. 316.130Pedestrians; Traffic Regulations

(7)(b) The driver of a vehicle at any crosswalk where signage so indicates shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian (or bicyclist) to cross a roadway when the pedestrian (or bicyclist) is in the crosswalk ….

The statute also adds this requirement to yield when the pedestrian (or bicyclist)

…. 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.

Simply being in the crosswalk does not necessarily impart right of way. One cannot dart in front of an oncoming vehicle into a crosswalk or otherwise and expect the driver to be able to stop in time.

(8) No pedestrian (or 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.

The due care provisions in the law apply to both parties in this incident.

s. 316.183Unlawful Speed

(1) No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing. In every event, speed shall be controlled as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle, or other conveyance or object on or entering the highway in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care.

s. 316.185Special Hazards

The fact that the speed of a vehicle is lower than the prescribed limits shall not relieve the driver from the duty to decrease speed when approaching and crossing an intersection …. or when special hazards exist or may exist with respect to pedestrians or other traffic …. and speed shall be decreased as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle, or other conveyance on or entering the street in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care.

Is the sign 150 feet or 80 feet from the intersection? If the sign is so close to the intersection as to disrupt visibility, the owner may be liable in the event of a crash at the intersection.

Posted in Ask Geo, Sidewalks & Crosswalks, Stop Signs & Red Lights
6 comments on “Crosswalk Crash
  1. fred says:

    Even though I was once an enthusiastic cyclist, I have to side against the person on the bike in this example. s.316.130 (8) is pretty clear that a cyclist or pedestrian is not permitted to blindly enter an intersection. With the distances referenced in the post, the person on the bike was traveling at a speed excessive for conditions.

    My mailman was involved in a similar collision and the judge determined that the person on the bike was traveling too fast to safely operate on the sidewalk.

    It’s up to the judge, of course, to assess circumstances, but it’s the lawyers who move the words around to make things work differently sometimes.

    • HarryB says:

      fred:

      You wrote: “s.316.130 (8) is pretty clear that a cyclist or pedestrian is not permitted to blindly…”

      That section uses the operative word “suddenly”, not “blindly”.

      If I understand correctly what the OP wrote, after stopping behind the crosswalk, the motorist then drove onto the crosswalk while the bicyclist was approaching at a steady rate. It was the motorist who *suddenly* drove onto the crosswalk—there is no evidence the bicyclist suddenly changed his or her speed.

      I’m sure you have had that happen just like it has happened to me many times: The motorist is stopped and I expect him or her to remain stopped. However, suddenly the car moves forward and there is almost no time to react. I’m guessing that is what happened in this situation.

      You also wrote: “With the distances referenced in the post, the person on the bike was traveling at a speed excessive for conditions.”

      If the bicyclist was traveling at 10 mph and traveled some 80 feet after he or she became visible to the motorist, the latter had some 5 seconds to observe the approaching bicyclist. This hardly qualifies as “traveling at a speed excessive for conditions.”

  2. Phil Leinbach says:

    In this situation motorists seldom, if ever, look to the right before that hit the gas to enter the intersecting road. A car can be stopped and a bike or pedestrian can begin walking in front of the vehicle, and if there’s a gap in traffic the motorist can pull into, they will usually hit the gas without looking right. The obscurity created by the sign further complicates an already dangerous situation. Is that sign legal?? I deal with this every day mostly with cars that have the cross walk completely blocked. Pinellas County Sheriffs department does not think this is important enough to spend their resources on.

    • fred says:

      Phil, that’s been my experience too. It’s hard to see inside the tinted windows and even when moving at a crawl, the motorists are unpredictable. 150 feet is quite a large span and likely doesn’t meet the “dangerous” criteria for other than too-fast people on bikes. The person on the bike has to be aware that drivers are not aware and operate accordingly. I carry a hand-held AirZound horn when on the unicycle and drivers still want to be angry with me for being in the way!

  3. randall tomlinson says:

    the cyclist claims to be on the sidewalk against traffic. either way, really, when on the sidewalk, bicyclist or pedestrian are supposed to stop and look for the way to be clear at an intersection, not just ride or walk across with intent of right of way. it’s wrong to do so or think this way, logically and common sense tells you that. the automobile driver has the right to pull forward, even if in the crosswalk, to make sure the way is clear, especially, if visual obstructions are evident and depending on the speed of the crossing roadway. i had this happen to me once while in my car in michigan, a bicyclists on a sidewalk approached me from behind, the passenger mirror not adjusted to the sidewalk, obviously, and i was trying to make a right turn so my glance to the right was brief, seeing no pedestrians or vehicles in my way of direction. there was a tree near the sidewalk down the way to the left. approaching traffic was 45 mph, as most know, some even faster. this left little room for error and on top of that, i was on a hill at the intersection, meaning, it would take that extra second to pull the weight of the vehicle out into the roadway. the cyclists came from behind and just turned left in front of me, even though i was partially in the crosswalk area, looking toward the traffic i would be pulling out in front of. as i saw the way clear to the left and had at least twice looked back to the right, i pulled out. suddenly, there was a cyclist. i bumped her, barely, and she caught her balance upon my hood. as she tried to move her self, she fell over. i was completely stopped when she fell. when the police arrived, they were trying their best to hang me. i simply asked one question and it turned into my benefit. is there a law in this town about riding on the sidewalk? yes, it was against the law to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk. therefore, at this point, the cyclist was in the wrong. they still would have been wrong for not stopping at the intersection before crossing. she was also going against traffic on the walkway and this was against her, according to the local laws. even a pedestrian, does not have the right to just walk out into an intersection until the way is clear. if you’ve seen you tube videos of cyclists and pedestrians, especially in other countries like russia, it’s no wonder there are so many deaths and injuries, all at the fault of the cyclists and pedestrians, thinking they can just step into the roadway and expect a vehicle to stop on a dime. know the speeds of the roads you’re crossing. if anyone here has ever stopped along the interstate and tried to cross over to the median and back know, it ain’t easy. at 70 mph, a vehicle is on you in a second, even when you think you have time.

  4. HarryB says:

    Ryder:

    Would you be so kind as to provide the names of the two roads that form the intersection or provide the GPS coordinates so we can look at the location on Google’s Street View?

    I am having a difficult time visualizing the scene because I don’t understand the location of the “huge sign to bike’s left front about 150 feet away at the corner where the street and crosswalk are”.

    Also, I’m confused as to the relationship between the car and bicyclist. You wrote that the “person is riding their bike on the sidewalk East Bound…going the opposite way of traffic”. This means the person was riding on the north side of the east/west highway. You then wrote, “There is a car approaching headed North bound and the car approaching the crosswalk has a stop sign and the bike would be traveling in front of this car at the intersection across the crosswalk.”

    Did you mean that the car was traveling southbound?

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