Motorist Crossing a Sidewalk Entering the Roadway


Augie asked: If a bike is traveling on the sidewalk at night, with hardly any reflective showing but yet sees a car on the side walk should the bike yield to car or keep riding thru? If a bicycle is riding on a sidewalk and the bike lane is right next to it and a car goes to exit the parking, bicycle rider sees car on sidewalk and hits car on sidewalk. Who’s at fault should you not use bike path if it’s available.


A bicyclist may use the sidewalk unless there is a local ordinance to the contrary, even if there is an adjacent bike lane. When on the sidewalk a cyclist has the rights and duties of 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.

Although cyclists on the sidewalk have the rights and duties of pedestrians, they are still operating a vehicle and must comply with all applicable laws, such as the requirement to have lights and reflectors.

(7) Every bicycle in use between sunset and sunrise shall be equipped with a lamp on the front exhibiting a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and a lamp and reflector on the rear each exhibiting a red light visible from a distance of 600 feet to the rear. A bicycle or its rider may be equipped with lights or reflectors in addition to those required by this section.

Drivers crossing a sidewalk or crosswalk from a driveway or parking lot must stop before crossing and yield to pedestrians or in this case, bicyclists with the rights and duties of pedestrians. The crosswalk may be marked as such or an unmarked connection between sidewalk areas.

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

(1)The driver of a vehicle about to enter or cross a highway from an alley, building, private road or driveway shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching on the highway to be entered which are so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard.

(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.

If traffic control devices such as traffic lights, stop signs or marked crosswalks, there is little doubt about the requirements, but lacking those, the burden is still on the motorist entering the roadway to stop and yield before crossing a sidewalk or crosswalk.

s. 316.130 – Pedestrians; 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. 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.

We don’t determine fault on this site since that depends on many factors, such as the speed of the cyclist and, as you point out, whether the bicycle was lighted as required. However, it appears there are violations by both parties in this case.

See much more in the posts under “Sidewalks and Crosswalks”.

3 Comments on “Motorist Crossing a Sidewalk Entering the Roadway

  1. Strictly speaking, “fault” in a traffic crash is something to be determined by a court of law in a suit for damages. Police may issue a citation (or citations) to one or more parties involved in the crash (if they find evidence of violation(s)), but do not make any entry regarding “fault” on the crash report form.

    However, the term “fault” is sometimes used informally in crash typing analysis done for traffic safety studies; a party deemed by an analyst to have violated a road rule may be described as being “at fault”. If, in the situation described, a crash resulted, and the crash report indicated the bicycle did not have an illuminated headlight, then the cyclist and the motorist would each have violated (prima facie) at least one road rule — cyclist failed to use an illuminated headlight after sunset, and motorist failed to yield to cyclist on sidewalk. Consequently, this would probably be classified as a case of joint “fault”, for purposes of a a traffic safety study that considered the question of responsibility of individual crash participants.

    Other crash details might also be relevant, and whether a court (or the parties’ insurance companies) would agree about who was at fault is, of course, another question.

  2. The bicyclist has the same rights and duties as a pedestrian under the same circumstances. Unless there is a traffic control device that requires stopping, the bicyclist, like a pedestrian, is not required to stop. Safety warrants caution for the bicyclist at the intersection, at least slowing and insuring there is no conflict. The speed of the cyclist will certainly be an important factor in any incident investigation.

Leave a Reply