Collision with Bike on a Sidewalk

Question

Adam asked: Is there a direction of travel I must take when bicycling on the pavement or walking path? I was recently struck by a vehicle coming out of a parking lot while riding on the sidewalk against the flow of traffic. He didn’t see me because he was not looking in my direction. I was heading South on the sidewalk, street traffic was north. I am being held responsible for the collision.

Answer

One of the common causes of incidents is the fact that motorists frequently do not expect traffic from the right and do not look in that direction before entering a roadway.

There is no requirement for a particular direction of travel on a sidewalk. The direction of the street traffic does not apply to the sidewalk.  When on the sidewalk, a cyclist has the same rights and duties as a pedestrian.

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 entering the roadway across a sidewalk must stop and yield to any pedestrians or bicyclists with the same rights and duties.

s. 316.125Vehicle Entering Highway from Private Road or Driveway or Emerging from Alley, Driveway or Building

(2) 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.

You didn’t say whether there is a stop sign before the sidewalk facing the driveway.  That is common.  The area connecting the sidewalk across the driveway is a crosswalk, even if it is not marked as such.

s. 316.003 – Definitions

(15) 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, measured from the curbs or, in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the traversable roadway.

Motorists must stop before entering a crosswalk and remain stopped until clear.

s. 316.130Pedestrians; 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 (or bicyclist with the rights and duties of 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. Any pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

That does not allow a pedestrian or bicyclist to dart in front of a moving vehicle and risk a collision.

(8) 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.

The speed of the cyclist on the sidewalk may be a factor also.  Due care is required by all.  The sidewalk is part of the highway.  Even with the same rights and duties as a pedestrian, the cyclist is still operating a vehicle and must comply with applicable statutes.

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.

Posted in Ask Geo, Sidewalks & Crosswalks
7 comments on “Collision with Bike on a Sidewalk
  1. Keithmj says:

    Just about all the bicycle accidents that I have seen or heard about has been because of this situation. The drivers usually don’t look right a second time. Bicycles move so quick on the sidewalk that they appear out of nowhere.

  2. HarryB says:

    Adam, you wrote: “I am being held responsible for the collision.”

    Would you please provide additional information? Was the crash investigated by a police officer? Were you issued a citation? If so, what is the exact wording of the citation which should include the specific law you are accused of violating. Did you go to court?

    If you did not receive a citation, are you being sued for damages by the motorist?

  3. Phil Leinbach says:

    I see this situation everyday. I stop waive my arms frantically until I get the attention of the motorist, then I say “I am crossing the street, please don’t run me over”. Believe it or not, motorists are offended by this! One got out of his vehicle and attacked me a few years ago. Any advice on how to deal with this would be appreciated. I get no help from the Pinellas County Sheriffs department although I have been complaining about it for over 10 years. These cars are usually blocking the crosswalk.

  4. HarryB says:

    Geo wrote: “The area connecting the sidewalk across the driveway is a crosswalk, even if it is not marked as such.”

    I’m afraid I can not agree with this. The statutes define two types of crosswalks, those based on their location as described above in § 316.003 (15)(a), Fla. Stat., and those identified by their markings as described in § 316.003 (15)(b): “Any portion of a roadway at an intersection or elsewhere distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface.” Both are clearly defined as being part of the roadway—and a sidewalk is not a roadway: “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.” § 316.003 (72)

    You imply that the sidewalk is interrupted by the driveway, but that is not possible because a) the term driveway is not defined in Chap. 316 and therefor traffic on a driveway is not regulated in this chapter, and b) the common definition of driveway places it on private property, not within the highway where the sidewalk is located.

    Section 316.125 (2) which you quoted does regulate vehicles that are entering the highway within a business or residential district as they emerge “…from an alley, building, private road or driveway…” As you noted, it requires the drivers of these vehicles to come to a stop before driving onto the sidewalk. Only after no pedestrian or bicyclist is endangered by the vehicle may the driver begin to cross the sidewalk—this is the law the motorist violated.

    I don’t see how § 316.130 (7) which you quoted has any relevance in this situation because it regulates who must yield to whom when a pedestrian or bicyclist is crossing a roadway in a crosswalk. The OP clearly stated the motorist was exiting a parking lot and was therefor not driving upon a roadway. And the OP was riding his bicycle on a sidewalk, not crossing a roadway in a crosswalk.

    And I don’t understand how § 316.130 (8), “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” has anything to do with this collision either. Because the OP was riding on the sidewalk, he did not leave the curb or any other place of safety. If the motorist had been obeying the law, his or her vehicle would have been stopped [complete cessation from movement as defined in § 316.003 (76)], so the idea that the bicyclist could have suddenly darted out in front of the stationary vehicle so quickly that it was impossible for the driver to yield is absurd.

    If the OP accurately described the facts, the motorist violated the bicyclist’s right-of-way, and by doing so caused the collision. I fail to understand how the motorist is not 100 percent responsible for the collision.

  5. Keithmj says:

    I would suggest that you contact the State or your Congressman or Sue the State if you disagree, you can interpret the laws anyway you want but unless challenged nothing will change.
    Most is just common sense and being a defensive bike rider always expecting, even if you have the right of way that they are not going to give it to you. I would rather give way than spend time in a hospital for demanding my right.

  6. J. Steele Olmstead says:

    Harry B is correct.

    That part of the roadway that is the sidewalk is a sidewalk. It is not transformed into a cross walk just because cars drive on it. It remains a crosswalk.
    The “crosswalk” definition applies to intersections…. of roads not where a car exists from a parking lot. That’s why Sec. 316.125 exists. The burden of watching out for pedestrians is on the car NOT the pedestrian. If that were the case, cars would also take over the sidewalks like they took over our public roads. See the book:
    “The Invention of Jaywalking” which chronicles how car companies Through their lobbyists and the American Automobile Association took over the public roads
    Cars are not the only vehicles entitled to our public roads. They are not given priority on sidewalks either.

    I have defended several of my clients and sued successfully on this issue many times. The speed of my bicyclist client and the priority of a car on a sidewalk were never brought up by anybody in court, least of all the judged.
    Although I presently have a rather uninformed Allstate adjuster who is trying to bully my bicyclist client. I will be dropping a lawsuit in the mail for her shortly.

    • Keithmj says:

      Does it matter if you are correct or right or have the right of way if you are dead just because you demand your rights and think they will be given to you? If the bike rider saw the driver looking the other way should of been a clue that you’d get hit by the vehicle, the bike rider can’t assume anything. I have stopped and waited many of times and avoided trouble for myself or others. It is called defensive driving.
      If the bicycle on the sidewalk tried to go around the vehicle in front of it then the cyclist is at fault because the vehicle was blocking the sidewalk and was there first. If the vehicle stopped before the sidewalk and pulled into the cyclist on the sidewalk then he would have received the ticket. But from what has been said the cyclist probably tried to go around the front of the vehicle, that is why he was charged. Hopefully the cyclist was not hurt.

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