Motorist Crash with Wrong Way Cyclist in a Bike Lane
John asked: If the operator of a motor vehicle should hit and injure a bicycle rider who is in the bike lane but riding the wrong direction, would the driver be held legally liable for the accident and or injury?
There is no way to determine any potential liability without knowing all the details of the incident, which would be determined in court. A cyclist is operating a vehicle and when in the roadway must ride in the same direction as other traffic. A bike lane is part of the roadway.
s. 316.081 – Driving on Right Side of Roadway; Exceptions
(1) Upon all roadways of sufficient width, a vehicle shall be driven upon the right half of the roadway.
A driver may also be at fault if crossing a sidewalk area and entering the roadway from a driveway without ensuring it will not interfere with traffic on the sidewalk or in the roadway, even a cyclist riding in the wrong direction.
s. 316.125 – Vehicle 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.
The motorist driving in a bike lane may also be violating the statute that requires driving within a single lane.
s. 316.089 – Driving on Roadways Laned for Traffic
(1) A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from such lane until the driver has first ascertained that such movement can be made with safety.
Although a bike lane is described as “exclusive” in certain statutes, there are circumstances when a motorist will be in a bike lane, such as entering or leaving a roadway. Those instances are not specified in the statutes,