Thursday, June 11, 2009

Who Has The Right-of-Way?

This past Monday Michael Urban got off a JTA bus at the 8100 block of 103rd St.. Walked to the front of the bus and removed his bike from the bike rack and returned roadside. According to print and Television news reports Mr. Urban then waited for the bus to clear before attempting to walk his bike across 103rd Street where he was struck and killed by a pickup truck.

Those same news reports quote Lt. Bill Leeper of the Highway Patrol saying, "the cyclist and motorist didn't appear to see each other." That very well may be the situation. But since Mr. Urban will never be able to give his account. Let's assume that just maybe Mr. Urban did see the pickup. Let's also assume that Mr. Urban knew the right-of-way laws that govern our State Roadways. Lets again assume that Mr. Urban's fatal mistake was thinking that the driver of the pickup also knew these very basic and commonsense laws.

As you can see in the picture above (you may need to click on it to see the full size) The intersection where Mr. Urban de-bused with his bike has no signal or crosswalks. If you've been in this city for any length of time, whether driving, biking or walking, you are accustom to this very scene. As actual painted crosswalks tend to be some kind of luxury in Jacksonville.

Since Mr. Urban was in a crosswalk with his bike. No matter if he was walking it or riding it he is considered a Pedestrian. (316.2065(10))

As a pedestrian at an unsignaled intersection, when do you obtain the right-of-way? Lets see what the State has to say: (316.130 (7)(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.

Sounds pretty basic and commonsense doesn't it. If you are driving 4 tons of metal at speed and see a person crossing in front of you, stop before you kill them. But drivers in this city firmly believe they always have the right-of-way. Anyone be damn if they do venture in front of Jax drivers. I'm not saying this is the case here with the pickup that took Mr. Urban's life. I don't have all the facts and haven't seen an accident report. But I have witnessed and experienced many a driver accelerate as I and others attempted to cross Jacksonville roads. I'm also keenly aware that far too many drivers and law enforcement officials alike are just completely ignorant when is comes to bicycle and pedestrian laws and rights.

Here is a great little video I found on Portlandize yesterday and he was kind enough to send me the code for. And since Florida Law and Oregon Law don't differ much, I thought it a very nicely done visual for those who didn't quite get all that legalese above. It's produced by the Portland Department of Transportation (Could you ever imagine the COJ or JTA being this proactive?) and as Portlansize puts it: "illustrating the fact that, by Oregon law, every street corner is considered a crosswalk (whether marked or not), and that once a pedestrian has put a food down in the road, automobile drivers have a responsibility to stop and remain stopped until the pedestrian has cleared both their lane and the one next to it. If the person is blind and using a cane or a seeing eye dog, drivers must wait for them to get to the opposite curb."


Abhishek said...

Does anyone know if the driver of the pick up truck got a ticket or went to jail?

Anonymous said...

According to the times union the driver was not charged.

Keri said...

Great video! I spent a lot of time in Portland about 10 years ago. They've done an amazing job with awareness and enforcement of pedestrian safety.

A friend of mine moved here from there and damn near got himself run over a half-dozen times before he stopped insisting on his right to cross the street in a crosswalk.

This issue isn't limited to Jax. It's a problem all over Florida. The abandonment of pedestrians in this state is just disgraceful.

Good post. Thanks for helping raise awareness. I've informally surveyed friends and the majority have no idea about unmarked crosswalks... or even their requirement to yield in marked crosswalks.

Anonymous said...

Here's an idea, instead of bitching and citing laws, do like your mom taught you and don't cross when traffic's coming. Seems like an easy solution.