Recent Syracuse Bicycle Accident Demonstrates Why Motorists Are Usually At Fault for Bike-on-Car Collisions

It’s to be expected. With the good weather comes bicycling, and with bicycling comes bike accidents. Today Syracuse police are investigating an accident at the intersection of Sumner and Euclid avenues (not far from where I grew up!) between a bicyclist and, of all people, a Syracuse City cop driving a police car. Thankfully, the bicyclist, a Syracuse University student, suffered only minor injuries. She was treated and promptly released from Upstate University Hospital.

This accident demonstrates some interesting principles. Statistically, most bike-on-car collisions are the motorist’s fault. Do you think this accident might have been the police officer’s fault? Let’s see what happened here, and then you decide.

The police officer was heading west on Euclid Ave, and was waiting to turn left on Sumner, when a Centro bus heading in the opposite direction stopped and waved the officer through the intersection. The officer started his turn, but neither he, nor the bus driver, had observed the bicyclist traveling alongside the bus just to its right in a bike path. As the bike entered the intersection, the bike hit the police car’s passenger side as the car made its left turn in front of the bike.

So who’s at fault? I believe it was the cop’s. He violated the bicycle rider’s right-of-way. She was going straight through the intersection, as she had every right to do, and the cop was turing left, and thus was obliged to wait for her to pass.

This case demonstrates the most common cause of bike-on-car accidents; motorists failing to observe bicyclists. As a Syracuse New York bicycle accident attorney, I handle a lot of these kinds of bike-on-car collisions, and from my experience I can tell you this: There is usually no good excuse for a driver of a car failing to observe a bicyclist. A motorist is duty-bound to observe other vehicles, including bicycles, and to avoid crashing into them. Here, the cop had a duty to yield to the bike, and it is generally no excuse that he failed to she her.

He might argue, though, that the bus blocked his view of the bike until it was too late. Maybe a jury would buy that, depending on the evidence. But I doubt it.

Now here’s the $10,000 question: Think that cop will issue himself a ticket?

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