Is a Driver At Fault in a Bicycle Crash if They are Parked in the Bike Lane?

Video Transcription:

Jim-Dodson: Hey, welcome, it's Jim Dodson, the Florida Bike Guy. As you know, I'm a cycling crash and injury lawyer representing cyclists and others throughout Florida.

So is it lawful to park a vehicle in a bike lane? Another way I'd like to look at this is, is a driver who parks in the bike lane responsible for a crash that occurs? So what I wanna talk about this morning is four things, really. The first is that is it illegal to park in the bike lane. We're gonna talk about, also first is it a bike lane or is it the shoulder? Secondly, there's an exception that we have to consider to the statute, and we'll talk about some examples that we run into and have seen, and some noted incidents in the past.

So first, Florida statute 316.1945, I don't wanna get too much in the weeds, but it says that it's illegal, "No person shall stand or park a vehicle, "whether occupied or not, except momentarily to pick up "or discharge a passenger or passengers "on an exclusive bike lane." So this statute makes it illegal to park a vehicle in a bike lane. But the first question is, when you are involved in an incident like this, was it a bike lane? Remember that a bike lane is determined by the appropriate municipality responsible for the roadway, and they make the decision and demarcation of bike lanes on roadways. Because you have a difference between what is a shoulder and what is a designated bike lane. If it is a designated bike lane, this statute comes into play, and it's illegal to park there. If it is simply a shoulder, and the cyclist is using the shoulder to ride, which they are entirely entitled to do, then it's just a general question of negligence.

The key is that if a vehicle driver parks their vehicle in the bike lane improperly, they can be cited for that, and your lawyer can use that evidence against the driver as evidence of negligence, because there's a statute prohibiting it. But remember there's one exception they talk about in the statute, and that is, "except momentarily "to pick up or discharge a passenger or passengers." So from what I anticipate the legislature intended here is that he's driving along, pull off to the, road, lets out or pick someone up, and a crash were to occur instant, they could have a defense to a citation or an effort to hold them responsible for violating the statute of parking in a bike lane. But if you look at the statute, that's the only exception.

So what we have in Florida is a lot of other people that want to use the bike lane as a place to park their vehicle. You know, we have delivery vehicles, UPS, FedEx. You've got all the lawn service people. They pull up, they put their cars on the side of the road, they might be partially on the road, partially in the bike lane. They leave it there while they go off and do their work. They leave their vehicle there while they go in to visit someone or they go and make a delivery at a home. While those may be all well-intentioned things, they are a violation of the statute.

Now why is that such an important issue? So we're looking, when someone's involved in a bike crash, we're looking of evidence of negligence on behalf of the driver. And a statute prohibiting what the driver did is very important as evidence of negligence. Remember that we always have to look at both the conduct of the driver and the conduct of the person injured in the crash. If we're dealing with a bike crash, the defense will always try to determine whether there was some evidence that the cyclist did something wrong, that they contributed in some way to the injury. So every percentage of fault they can put on the cyclist is a percentage of fault they will not be held responsible for. So we always have to contemplate, is there evidence that the cyclist could have done something or did something that contributed in some way to the crash? The first issue is, we always have to be aware of what's in front of us. We have to be aware of what's blocking the road. The driver who parked there may be at fault for putting their vehicle in there, either blocking the bike lane entirely or partially blocking the bike lane, but we as cyclists have a duty to make sure that we are watching where we're going and we see the open and obvious issues and try to avoid them. But we live in an imperfect world, and sometimes a cyclist may be distracted by something off to their left or right. They may be looking down for a minute, and they don't see this vehicle that's stopped. So you have to look at what is the argument, how strong is this argument that the cyclist might have avoided the crash? And that's gonna be fact-dependent on every case. They're all gonna be different, and it depends on what the facts are in the situation that we're dealing with. That's why facts are so important.

There was... It was a real tragedy that occurred recently in a county south of us where a construction vehicle pulled off, parked onto the side of the road, partially blocking the bike lane, a cyclist ran into the vehicle and died. All I know is what the press is reporting, and the press reports that the police found the driver of the vehicle to be partially at fault, but they also found the cyclist to be partially at fault for not being observant of what was in front of them. It's just an example of the analysis that kind of goes into these types of cases, and really every type of a bike crash.

Remember that if you've been involved in a cycling crash and the police found that you were partially at fault or maybe sometimes they might have determined that you were the cause of the crash, you always have to look at the case differently from a perspective other than law enforcement's. If you, even if you have to apportion some responsibility to the cyclist, depending on how badly they were injured or sadly, if someone died, 50% liability, if you're sharing responsibility on a bike crash, 50% of a big case is still a big case. So we have to look carefully at each one, and the circumstances are clearly going to be different and unique for each case.

So I just wanted to address the issue of parking in the bike lane. It is improper in Florida to park in the bike lane. We look at the facts of every case. Remember that. I hope you've enjoyed this program. If you ever need my help, I'll be there for you. We're offering you a free resource today, Kati’s running the link on there, the what to do if you're injured in a bicycle crash. We'll be happy to get that out to you. Be in touch with us if I can ever help you, and look forward to you on our next livestream broadcast. Have a great week, and be safe out there. This is the Florida Bike Guy. Take care, bye.

Jim Dodson
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A Florida injury lawyer, family man and avid cyclist who clients have trusted for over 25 years.