The Invisible Zebra

imageImage via flickr

Imagine a world where crosswalks don’t exist.  Every crosswalk you know and love has been erased from the pavement.

That’s what it’s like for bicyclists in Massachusetts.

Although we have some of the nation’s best bike laws here in the Bay State, there are still a couple of major holes in our legislative structure.  The crosswalk is one of them.

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A reply to a comment on my response to a question

imageThis picture is hanging in a lawyer’s waiting room in my building, and I’m kind of obsessed with it.

Someone just commented on a post I wrote a few months back in response to someone’s question, and I’ve decided to reply with a proper post instead of just as a comment. Hopefully this will help to clarify things for the commenter, and perhaps a few others.

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Today I was riding in the breakdown lane on rt 37, and traffic was backed up for miles. A large cargo van had left an intersection open, and a truck coming the opposite way made a very fast, very sharp left hand turn, just barely missing me. My road did not have a light or stop sign. If he had hit me, who would have been at fault?

Asked by

The driver.

Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 90 §14 has the following to say on the subject:

When turning to the left within an intersection or into an alley, private road or driveway an operator shall yield the right of way to any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction, including a bicycle on the right of the other approaching vehicles, which is within the intersection or so close thereto as to constitute an immediate hazard. 

If he had hit you, it would have been because he failed to yield, thus violating this statute.  As I’ve discussed before, breaking a law can make a crash your fault.

The driver would even be 100% at fault if he tried to claim that you were comparatively negligent because you were riding in the breakdown lane and he couldn’t see you.  That’s because the statute goes on to say that “[i]t shall not be a defense for a motorist causing an accident with a bicycle that the bicycle was to the right of vehicular traffic.”

Now that’s how you write a fantastic bike law.  Other states, get crackin’.