Left Turn Crash

Question

Craig asked: I was recently in Deerfield traveling south in a lefthand turn lane to make a left turn. Northbound Traffic was backed up quite a bit and a large truck stopped to make way for me to make the left turn. Almost halfway through the turn, a cyclist slammed into me. He had to be traveling pretty fast based on the damage to the door and pillar. I didn’t see him and then he hit my vehicle. No tickets were issued to me but I am curious if A) are there are any kind of speed limits in the bike lane? (It is unclear if he was in the bike lane or sidewalk) and B) riding along all of the stopped backed up traffic, should there have been any caution on his end to follow the flow of traffic or entering cross roads?

Answer

A.  No. A bike lane is part of the roadway and a bicycle is just another form of vehicle. The posted speed limit applies to bicycle operators on the roadway. Drivers turning left across a lane must yield to through traffic.

s. 316.122Vehicle Turning Left

The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left within an intersection or into an alley, private road, or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction ….

We don’t know the speed of the cyclist when entering the intersection, so we can’t tell if this statute was violated.

s. 316.183 – Unlawful 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.

(4) The driver of every vehicle shall, consistent with the requirements of subsection (1), drive at an appropriately reduced speed when:

(a) Approaching and crossing an intersection ….

It would be different if the bicyclist were on the sidewalk. A cyclist on a sidewalk 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 are required to yield to pedestrians (Or bicyclists with the same rights and duties as pedestrians) who are already in a crosswalk.

s. 316.130Pedestrians; Traffic Regulations

(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.

From your description of the crash of the bicyclist into the side of your car, it appears your vehicle was in the crosswalk when the bicyclist left the sidewalk and entered the crosswalk. If that is the case, the bicyclist left a place of safety and struck your vehicle.

If traffic control signals were present, they would dictate the right of way.

B.  It would be prudent for the bicyclist to regard the intersection as a potential hazard.

Posted in Ask Geo, Making Turns
One comment on “Left Turn Crash
  1. HarryB says:

    The OP is attempting to shift the responsibility for the collision to the bicyclist, and I’m disappointed that Geo seems to be attempting to help in this endeavor.

    The OP admitted he was driving a vehicle and, while attempting to turn left off the highway, was broadsided by a bicyclist who was traveling in the opposite direction. The OP admitted he was “almost halfway through the turn”, so he had already crossed the center of the roadway and was now driving across the lane(s) of traffic that were designated for traffic moving in the opposite direction.

    As Geo noted, § 316.122, Fla. Stat. addresses this situation: “Vehicle turning left.—The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left within an intersection or into an alley, private road, or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction . . .”

    The language is plain: it was the OP’s responsibility to yield to ANY vehicle that was approaching from the opposite direction, regardless of whether the vehicle (bicyclist in this case) was riding in the travel lane, bike lane, shoulder, sidewalk, or crosswalk. The fact that the OP claims to not have seen the approaching bicyclist did not relieve him of his responsibility to yield to the bicyclist who was, in fact, there.

    Based on what the OP wrote, we know that there could not have been a collision if he had not illegally driven his vehicle into the path of the approaching bicyclist. Even if the bicyclist had been “speeding”, the OP was still obligated to respect the bicyclist’s right-of-way by yielding to him.

    Geo wrote: “We don’t know the speed of the cyclist when entering the intersection, so we can’t tell if [§ 316.183(4)(a) which requires drivers to drive at an appropriately reduced speed when approaching and crossing an intersection] was violated.”

    Are we to understand from this comment that whenever bicyclists approach intersections they are, according to FBA, required to reduce their speed in compliance with § 316.183? Typical bicyclists do not approach and enter intersections at speeds greater than 12 to 15 mph, so are they required to slow to 10 mph, 5 mph? Maybe FBA would be so kind as to advise bicyclists (and investigating LEO) by how much bicyclists need to reduce their speed whenever they approach and cross an intersection.

    If the law doesn’t require motorists to slow down to, let’s say 10 mph, as they approach and cross an intersection, why would FBA claim a bicyclist who is traveling at, let’s say 12 mph, is violating § 316.183(4)(a)? FBA seems to be setting a double standard by requiring bicyclists to approach and cross intersections at speeds which are much lower than those of motorists.

    Geo wrote: “From your description of the crash of the bicyclist into the side of your car, it appears your vehicle was in the crosswalk when the bicyclist left the sidewalk and entered the crosswalk.”

    This is leading the witness because the OP wrote: “It is unclear if he was in the bike lane or sidewalk.”

    As noted above, § 316.122 required the motorist to yield to ANY vehicles that were approaching from the opposite direction—without exception. FBA has repeatedly claimed that bicyclists who are riding on the sidewalk are the drivers of vehicles, so even if the bicyclist had been riding on the sidewalk, his right to proceed across the roadway into which the OP was turning was superior to that of the OP who was turning across his path. Consequently, the motorist was required to respect that superior right by yielding to the approaching bicyclist whether he was riding in the bike lane, sidewalk, or crosswalk.

    Geo also wrote: ” If (the bicyclist left the sidewalk and entered the crosswalk), the bicyclist left a place of safety and struck your vehicle.”

    The reference is to § 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.”

    Note the operative word “suddenly”, which is defined as: “happening or coming unexpectedly; an unexpected occurrence” (Merriam-Webster). Riding on the sidewalk and entering the crosswalk at the same rate of speed fails to meet the definition of “suddenly” because his entry into the crosswalk would be logical and expected since the crosswalk is an extension of the sidewalk across the roadway. I can find no statute that requires pedestrians (and bicyclists) to slow down before entering a crosswalk, unlike § 316.183(4)(a) (noted above) which requires drivers to slow down before entering an intersection.

    On the other hand, if the bicyclist who was riding on the sidewalk had come to a stop, and then started riding again into the crosswalk, I will concede it is possible he “suddenly” entered the crosswalk.

    It was the responsibility of the OP to keep a proper lookout for any legitimate user of the sidewalk who might be crossing the roadway in the crosswalk during the time in which the OP’s vehicle might present a hazard to that person. The reasonable person standard required the OP to EXPECT someone to be in the crosswalk—their very purpose is to provide a designated place where sidewalk users have the right-of-way while crossing the roadway—and it was the OP’s responsibility to control his speed so that he would be able to yield or stop when the pedestrian or bicyclist was upon the half of the roadway upon which the OP’s vehicle was traveling. [§ 316.130(7)]

    The bicyclist, on the other hand, had no responsibility to anticipate that a motorist would suddenly, illegally drive out from behind a large stopped truck into his path of travel.

    There is absolutely no evidence the bicyclist violated § 316.130(8), and I’m very disappointed that this irrelevant statute was conjured up in an effort to bolster the OP’s attempt to absolve himself of his responsibility for causing the collision.

    And finally, there is another statute that addresses this situation: “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)]

    While both bicyclists and motorists have a common law duty of care to avoid colliding with other users of the highway, the motorist is singled out as having this common law duty of care *even if the bicyclist violates other provisions of this chapter*. The legislature chose to not place this additional responsibility upon the bicyclist vis-à-vis the motorist, logically so, I believe.

    I hope the bicyclist seeks competent legal counsel in an attempt to recover damages from the negligent motorist, who I fear has been encouraged by FBA’s comments to conclude the bicyclist was in some manner responsible for the collision.

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