Bicycles in Crosswalks
David asked: I often ride on sidewalks with the flow of traffic though there is a bike lane. My question has to do with right turning vehicles, the drivers of which often think they can turn faster than I can cross an intersection. If I were to be struck by a vehicle in this circumstance, crossing in a crosswalk, who presumably would be at fault? This scenario happens every time I ride, I’d say at a frequency of 1-3 times per mile traveled. Just to clarify, there is little difference riding in the bike lane, but in that scenario I think I understand I have the right of way.
We can’t determine fault without all the details of a particular incident. Numerous variables could influence that, so that is the function of the courts.
On this site, we state the applicable laws. Those related to bicycles in a crosswalk can be found under “crosswalks” in the tag cloud.
Briefly, bicyclists in a crosswalk have the rights and duties of pedestrians and motorists must yield under most circumstances. One determining factor may be the speed of the cyclist.
Like other runners who run on sidewalks, I make it a habit when running to glance over the shoulder nearest the parallel roadway as I approach a crosswalk at an unsignalized intersection, where a pedestrian has no need to wait for a pedestrian signal’s Walk indication. Drivers preparing to turn off the roadway at such locations usually see me and pause to let me cross (as required), but I don’t count on it. If it’s dark out, I’m extra careful.
Crosswalk entry is probably the trickiest phase of the crosswalk crossing process. It is difficult for a sidewalk-using cyclist to “control” a crosswalk, the way a driver can control a lane. Some turning drivers who notice a sidewalk user entering or about to enter a crosswalk probably do imagine that, by making a fast or wide turn, they can clear the crosswalk with minimal delay to the crosswalk user.
As I understand crosswalk law, a driver must yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk or within 3 feet of entering a crosswalk. A cyclist is moving much faster than a pedestrian, hence the motorist could enter the crosswalk before the cyclist gets close enough. In that situation, the cyclist, in the role of pedestrian, must yield to the car since the car is already in the crosswalk. Yes or No?
There is no 3 foot requirement and the speed of the cyclist could be taken into account in any incident in a crosswalk. See the tags “Crosswalk” and “Sidewalks” for more information.