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Who's at fault?(16 posts)

Who's at fault?Chris T
Oct 30, 2003 9:25 AM
A question for those of you who may have past experience with this situation. I was commuting into work this morning, zipping along in the bike lane (far right side of the road). I was going past a van on the right, when the van pulled through the bike lane to make a right turn. I glanced off the van, ended up doing a fabulous endo, but luckily only ended up with a bit of road rash and a few scratches to the rear derailleur so no need to make a report.

So, my question is, who was at fault? I was riding in the bike lane along the shoulder, but at the same time, vehicles turning right from the right lane would understandably not expect someone to be coming by them on their right. This is definitely one of the dangers of these bike lanes, and one of the reasons why I often bike out in the road when coming to an intersection!

Thanks in advance,

check local regs, butSteve_0
Oct 30, 2003 9:28 AM
I can say that in many states, when turning left you're required to make sure noone is passing on the left. I would imagine such states the car would be at fault.

prolly a fuzzy area in the laws.
re: Who's at fault?seanf711
Oct 30, 2003 9:33 AM
My understanding of most states laws as it pertains to bike lanes is that the bike land is a lane as any other lane. Just as you make sure when driving in a middle lane that the right lane is clear before you change lanes, a driver should do so for the bike lane. Typically drivers are not aware of vehicles moving fast in that lane. It is one of the draw backs to being a fast cyclist I guess.
Who was cited?Andy M-S
Oct 30, 2003 9:44 AM
Who did the police cite? I assume that an officer was called to the scene--in a case like this, they get to decide.

About a year ago I was taken down by a truck doing much the same thing, except we don't have defined bike lanes. I saw the truck, I had my lights on, it wasn't moving, then it jumped out as I passed in front of it. La Crosse, WI, police ticketed the driver for failure to yield right of way.
not youmohair_chair
Oct 30, 2003 9:45 AM
As long as you are riding safely and predictably in the bike lane, the van is responsible for avoiding you if it wants to turn right, including waiting for you to go by if necessary. It's the van's responsibility to validate that there is no one in the lane before he enters it. If your details are accurate, clearly he made an unsafe lane change, and is totally at fault.
The motorist is..DINOSAUR
Oct 30, 2003 9:46 AM
I presume there is a typo in you post and you meant that you were passing the van on it's right and the van made a right turn across the bike lane which was occuppied by you. The motorist would be a fault as if you were in a designated bike lane and the cyclist has the right-of-way. The only other scenerio I can think of is that traffic is at a near stop, or stop and go, and you passed the van at a unreasonable speed, which is unlikely. The problem is if a report was not written at the scene it could effect the outcome if the motorist decides to make you at fault. But hopefully you have an honest person and he has a good insurance company. It could have been worse. I started to ride with a mirror a couple of years ago because of stuff like this...glad you are o.k.
The traffic engineerwooglin
Oct 30, 2003 10:11 AM
who decided to put in a bike lane.
the councilmanSteve_0
Oct 30, 2003 12:39 PM
who decided they didnt need an engineer: "all we need is some white paint!"
Consider the possibility of no fault (nm)ismellcabbage
Oct 30, 2003 10:17 AM
Thanks!Chris T
Oct 30, 2003 10:45 AM
Thanks everyone for the fast replies. As pointed out, yes, I was passing on the van's right, not the other way around. The guy was very apologetic and concerned. Guess if you're not used to seeing someone flip over the handlebars it can be a bit shocking!

As I said in my original post, there really was no damage done, so I have no plans to call up the police or insurance company. I was just curious as to what would happen if the outcome was more serious. Better prepares me if this ever happens again (fingers crossed it doesn't!).

Probably the only other thing I learned from this was a bit about physics; the damage to the bike and myself was minor glancing off the van travelling in the same direction as me as compared to when I got broadsided by a pick-up truck that ran a stop sign two years ago (which did require a new bike and a lot of physio and massage therapy!) even though I was going about the same speed both times. Probably not the best way to learn these things though!

Thanks again!

ALWAYS ALWAYS file a report!rollo tommassi
Oct 30, 2003 12:46 PM
For a number of reasons:
1. You are in shock. You are not in a state of mind to determine whether or not you have internal injuries.
2. You are not a bike mechanic, and do not have proper tools at the scene to determine damage to the frame.
3. The driver should have been cited. Had he struck a pedestrian after turning right, where is the fault?
4. The driver, by not being cited, does not think that he has any responsibility to the road user (You) and will assume that he can act in the same manner at any time. Trust me, his apologies and concerns voiced at the scene are false. It's not so much about the 'damage' done, or the lack of damage, it's about educating drivers about their rights and responsibilities, regardless of any debates about bike lane engineering.

Crossing one's fingers will not keep you safe.

Advice to everyone: don't play 'tough' and get up. Make a scene! Stay on the pavement! Get attention! Ask for the police, ask for witnesses. Apologies are lame. I don't care if the driver is "concerned", I want them off the road if they can't drive!

Be safe everyone!
the other side of the fenceSteve_0
Oct 30, 2003 12:56 PM
1. We dont know if he was in shock. We've all been hit harder in football and hockey, I'm sure
2. I am a better mechanic than some of the 'pros' i've seen.
3. Prolly, depending on local statutes.
4. Thats a bad assumption; the driver may have been quite upset about the incident, and has since become a more alert driver.

I'd rather move on with my life if my assesment is that everything is OK, rather than creating a scene because I wasn't afforded the right of way.

I'm sure you've made a boneheaded move driving at least once in your life; even if it was before you were a cyclist.

Not saying he shouldnt have, just saying I wouldnt have.

Steve (who, as a motorcyclist, is VERY concerned about safe driving, but does realize there is a difference between lapses, carelessness, irresponsiblility, and recklessness).
the other side of the fence<-I agree, well, sometimes...russw19
Oct 30, 2003 1:21 PM
I got hit by a guy in an Acura MDX SUV a while back. I was riding my mountain bike back from a haircut appointment. I was riding in the bike lane approaching the entry to a strip mall where the guy in the Acura made a right turn. The guy in his passenger seat saw me and tried to tell the driver, but it was too late. He turned right and I just hit him and leaned into him to try to stay upright. My bike's barends left a nice 3 foot scratch in his paint, and I hit a curb and then the ground. The guy stopped and was very appologetic and I felt like throwing a few F-Bombs his way, but he was actually pretty cool. He asked if I was OK and thought I was, I skinned my knee, but that was it. So I told him to give me a second while I checked out my bike. I told him as long as it was fine, I was fine. He looked at me funny, so I told him it was a $2000 bike... then he kinda got a panic'd look like I was gonna gut him. I looked over my frame for dents or scratches and there weren't any. Just my rear wheel slightly out of true. Less than a 5 minute job next time I went to the shop. Easy fix. Well about that time, another guy pulled up and also asked if I was OK and said he saw the whole thing. I told him I was fine, but the guy in the Acura handed me $100 and asked me if that would cover my damages. I said yes, and even told him it was way more than enough... he said keep it.. he was glad I was OK, he just learned a lesson to look out for bikes, and if I file an insurance claim it will cost him $500 anyways. So I kept it. He was cool about it, and the scratch on his truck (not my fault, but still..) was the worst of all the damage. I went to the shop the next day and had my wheel trued in 4 minutes flat.

Sure it could have been worse, but if it was, I would have called the cops... and I got lucky enough to have a bystander who saw things in my favour. But the guy made things right and I was happy with the outcome.... so there was no need to get the police involved.

Good luck-filtersweep
Oct 30, 2003 7:36 PM
Police in my city will not respond to an accident unless there are injuries or substantial property damages (like a vehicle needs to be towed). It really sucks trying to get a proper accident report.
you should have filed a report.sievers11
Oct 30, 2003 11:07 AM
The motorist should have looked before they turned.

I am sure they never saw you, but it is a risk you take when us roadies are traveling the same speed as trafic at times. You should just assume that the car is going to turn and take it easy at corners. Then when they do cut you off short you can safly stop you bike an yell profanities, rather than get you ass handed to you, or worse.
Size matters!bimini
Oct 31, 2003 8:07 AM
I use to boat down in FL and rule number one on the intercoastal was:

The big boat has the rightaway!

Yeah, there are rules and regulations that let the lawyers figure out who owes who what it there is a problem, but it does not help you if your ran over in your little 17' boat by a 350 foot long supertanker. You learn real fast to stay out of the way of the big boats.

Sames true in biking. Let's see a 17 lb bike vs. a 4000 lb SUV. Who will come out unharmed?

If you are after retribution, find a lawyer, you may have a case. If you are asking what you should do next time, I would ask the Clint Eastwood question "Now, do you feel lucky, Punk. Well do ya"