Left Cross Collision

Left-Cross collision. Graphic: cyclingsavvy.org

A Cross-type Bike-MV collision occurs when a bicyclist and motorist who are traveling in opposing directions collide while the motorist is making a turn. If both are traveling in proper direction, it would be a left cross; as illustrated between the blue vehicle and the bicyclist in the illustration. For a counter-flow bicyclist, a right-cross can occur.

(This in in contrast to to a hook collision, which involves a turning motorist and a same direction cyclist. )

From time-to-time somebody mistakenly brings up the topic of overtaking on the right; this is a red-herring in the illustrated situation, where their is “sufficient width for two or more lines of moving vehicles”,  §28-724, the illustrated bicyclist (or a motorist traveling in that position) may lawfully proceed straight ahead, subject to any signals of course. It is the duty of the left-turner to ensure no traffic is coming into the intersection before making the left-turn.  The driver of a “intending to turn to the left shall yield the right-of-way to a vehicle that is within or  “so close to the intersection as to constitute an immediate hazard”,  §28-772.  Notwithstanding any signals (protected left turn arrows, etc), the left-turner is strictly responsible (“negligence per se”) for the crash even when he can’t see (as depicted by the dark zone in the illustration). See e.g. Smith v. Johnson, 183 Ariz. 38, 899 P.2d 199 (App. Div. 1, 1995):

The statute  (28-772) does not merely direct that the left-turning driver exercise due care in looking for oncoming traffic, as does the Ohio statute mentioned in Van Jura. It is, instead, a “negligence per se” statute: the left-turning driver must yield to the oncoming traffic, regardless whether he diligently looks for such traffic.

Crash Avoidance

Bike lanes, as they do in other intersection situations, exacerbate the problem… because motorists simply don’t expect bicyclists; and because as depicted, MV traffic in Lane 1 and 2 is congested and stopped, but lane 3 (or the lane could be a BL, or a bike/bus lane; the conflict or problem is the same) is open, having just one cyclist (and the cyclist is moving forward; i.e. because there’s no congestion in that lane) in it. And bicyclists are more likely to be hidden from view, simply because they tend to be smaller. The dark zone in the illustration is the area where the left-turner’s view is obstructed; in this example the large-profile vehicle that’s creating the visual obstruction could also be hiding moving vehicle.

Avoidance for bicyclists in this situation would be to be extra defensive, while noting that can create significant delays — which was incongruously one of the reasons for creating a BL (assuming the thrid lane was actually a BL).

For how to avoid left-cross see CRASH! Avoiding the Dreaded Left-Cross , from which the graphic above was derived.

In real life the depicted situation, with three through lanes where lane 1 and 2 get congested while lane 3 continues to flow happens regularly here, Ray Road east of 48th Street. , this is a major driveway to the strip mall.The congestion in lane 1 and 2 is caused during peak periods where there are more drivers preparing to go west on I-10, a left entrance just ahead.

One thought on “Left Cross Collision”

  1. Even when there is a bike lane, I take the middle of the right hand travel lane when approaching a busy intersection. And when stopped at a busy intersection. I take the full lane on the left hand side so that the driver in front of me can see me in his side mirror and any vehicle looking to turn left has a better chance of seeing me and no car turning right has a chance of passing me and then turning.

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