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Thread: Am I at fault if I get hit at this type of intersection?

  1. #1
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    Default Am I at fault if I get hit at this type of intersection?

    Question for the legal minds here. There's a spot on my route in Alexandria where I go from a trail (which ends at that point), cross in a crosswalk, and then divert into the street. It's a T intersection, and I'm crossing the top of the T. It has a crosswalk, and a pedestrian light. I ONLY cross when the pedestrian signal gives me the white cross signal. See attached very-true-to-life artwork if you want to see what I'm talking about.

    Recently, I'm had numerous close calls at this intersection with cars flying through the crosswalk without stopping, to turn right onto Four Mile Rd. I was discussing this with another bike-person yesterday, who said as a cyclist, I'm likely going to be partly at fault in a crash like this, EVEN if I'm inside of or right next to the crosswalk, with a walk signal since Virginia law has some weird rules with bikes in crosswalks, especially if I am attempting to cross in the crosswalk and then divert into the road (and not continue onto the sidewalk). More or less regardless of if I'm crossing with a walk signal, and mostly staying in the crosswalk, I'll get dinged with contributory negligence since I shouldn't be there/driver will claim I wasn't in the crosswalk even if I was or I was within 12 inches of it, etc.

    Is this a real issue I need to be prepared for? Should I either a) continue onto the sidewalk briefly so I'm staying in the crosswalk the entire time vs diverting a foot or two before the crosswalk ends into the road (which is sadly, exactly where I'm likely to get hit), which is going to likely inconvenience a number of pedestrians at this crossing or b) accept this is absurd, and find a new route home since I'm likely going to get hit here and will have fault in the accident? It'd be ridiculous that I can't use the best route I have home because people don't understand red lights mean stop. Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2
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    I would have a very difficult time spinning a version of events that would place any blame on you for this hypothetical incident. (If anything, your maneuver both makes you more visible AND gives these drivers extra space in which to stop before hitting you. Not that the extra space should be necessary, since it is a red light with a crosswalk after all!)

    But perhaps that is why I am not a lawyer.

  3. #3
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    I'm curious to know what the legal wonks have to say as well.

    That is an annoying intersection for through traffic. I've not done your route through there, but I know from a driver's perspective the lights are terribly timed on Mt Vernon probably adding to their impatience. Do you know if any of these right-on-redders are people trying to cut-through the neighborhood to get to Russell or mostly residents of the apartments back there?

    Here's the intersection for those curious: https://www.google.com/maps/@38.8428...7i13312!8i6656

    One question: If there's a lot of known unsafe turning here and the likelihood of getting hit is unacceptably high, does it really matter if a collision could be your fault or not? While you're perfectly fine and healthy I might just let the right-on-red jerks have their day and find a new route. At the very least call Alexandria for some visible enforcement here. As nearby residents my wife and I would be be happy to call too!

  4. #4
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    I see "yield to pedestrians" signs on the street view in both directions on Mt Vernon Ave.

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  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by creadinger View Post

    One question: If there's a lot of known unsafe turning here and the likelihood of getting hit is unacceptably high, does it really matter if a collision could be your fault or not? While you're perfectly fine and healthy I might just let the right-on-red jerks have their day and find a new route. At the very least call Alexandria for some visible enforcement here. As nearby residents my wife and I would be be happy to call too!
    I've reported this and had a discussion about this intersection with BPAC's wonderful police liaison who said they'd up patrols around here since they've also gotten numerous other reports, and reported it via Alexandria Families for Safe Street's reporting tool, so that's been done. But if you want to report via call click connect or your other channels, please do!!! The more reports the better.

    And my current issue is with the Glebe Rd bridge out, this is my safest and most direct route to ParkFairfax right now, so to need to find a 3rd route option really makes me . But I agree, getting hit should also not be an option.

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  8. #6
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    Also not a lawyer, but: I would think continuing on the sidewalk briefly would be less predictable and put you in greater jeopardy from a car thinking they've cleared you before you then join the street. That just seems like one extra thing to have to check. Since the car should be coming to a complete stop prior to proceeding right on red, I tend to agree with scoot that I can't envision a scenario where you'd be at fault in this instance. From the Virginia DOT "Bicycling in Virginia" website, this scenario is somewhat analogous to the "Pedestrian Left Turn" described at http://www.virginiadot.org/programs/...g%20Directions so should be allowable(?) Virginia law (https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/...ction46.2-904/) also notes that when crossing a roadway at a crosswalk, a bicycle has all the rights and responsibilities as a pedestrian, though local ordinances can be more restrictive.

    Doesn't address the "is it worth it" question from a risk assessment standpoint, however.

    In addition to visible enforcement, maybe Alexandria would consider adding to the existing signage reminding drivers to yield to pedestrians when turning?

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  10. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Emm View Post
    See attached very-true-to-life artwork if you want to see what I'm talking about.
    I noticed all the fine details of your very-true-to-life depiction, including the fact that your bike is pink!

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  12. #8
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    The problem here is the T-intersection means the right-turn-on-red crowd (don't even get me started on how right-turn-on-red was the first step in the downfall of Western Civilization we are currently living through) has no fear of vehicles coming from their left so they don't even bother to look, much less stop, before proceeding. An engineering solution would be to add one of these to your commuter set-up.

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  14. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Emm View Post
    I've reported this and had a discussion about this intersection with BPAC's wonderful police liaison who said they'd up patrols around here since they've also gotten numerous other reports, and reported it via Alexandria Families for Safe Street's reporting tool, so that's been done. But if you want to report via call click connect or your other channels, please do!!! The more reports the better.

    And my current issue is with the Glebe Rd bridge out, this is my safest and most direct route to ParkFairfax right now, so to need to find a 3rd route option really makes me . But I agree, getting hit should also not be an option.
    The Glebe Rd bridge does have one of the lanes barreled off for peds/bikes to use. Is there a reason you can't use that.

  15. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by zsionakides View Post
    The Glebe Rd bridge does have one of the lanes barreled off for peds/bikes to use. Is there a reason you can't use that.
    It is an option for going home at night. Just not a great option either since it requires me to wait at a very long and unpredictable light, and then also go through the "I hope right turners don't hit me" dance, or over-shoot the bridge by going over, turning around on a sidewalk, and getting into the lane.

    Plus 4MR park is fun to bike through so I prefer that over riding on 4MRT along Glebe :-/

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