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Old 12-02-06, 11:24 AM   #1
Zero_Enigma
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What happens if you hit a cyclist with no lights at night?

I was driving to pick up groceries and supplies and while driving I'm not sure what triggered my thinking on this but I started wondering who's at fault if you hit a cyclist that is wearing all dark clothing, no front/back lights, and no reflectors? Basically I'm talking about 'bike ninjas' to anyone new to the forum and just reading this.

Lets assume 3 situations.

1. Car hits bike

2. Bike hits car

3. Bike hits bike


Now I know that being in a car you're higher on the responsiblity chart but honestly being a dual driver/cyclist I can't recall how many times I've had some near close calls with bike ninjas coming out of nowhere. I honestly did not see them dispite my check left traffic then right traffic then a quick glimpse on my right blind spot incase there is a bike there. Now if I hit the bike and call the cops who'll be at fault? Now I know if the bike had lights it would catch my attention quickly and being a driver I know that a bright blinky on a bike will easily let me know were the bike is and let the bike go first but without lights it's sometimes hard to tell where they are.

I'm thinking a bit more on that it's the cyclists at fault for not having the basic (and often required by law at night) lights. Tho I still feel somewhat bad for now seeing them if I hit them. Then again you have some flying bike ninjas that just zoom at 30kph so when you check your blind they're not there but when you're turning they cut you off and fly in front of you and you have to hit the brakes as hard as possible causing the other cars to hard brake and once a car in a line up waiting to turn got rear ended because of this.


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Old 12-02-06, 12:11 PM   #2
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I'm not sure about the fault situation in those cases, but here in Seattle, you're required to have the following on your whip if you travel after dusk:

Front light (white)
Rear light (red)
Front reflector (white)
Rear reflector (red)
Pedal reflectors (amber)

I can't remember if wheel reflectors are mentioned in the law or not, or what the visibility distances are for all those items. I guess if I got hit I'm screwed because I don't have a red reflector in back (I have white DOT diamonds and a yellow/orange 'slow moving vehicle' triangle,) or amber pedal reflectors (although I have a yellow legband.)
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Old 12-02-06, 12:32 PM   #3
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If the cyclist is not wearing anything reflective, and has no lights, I believe it is the cyclist's fault.

My $0.02.
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Old 12-02-06, 02:09 PM   #4
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Without some other mitigating factors (motorist speeding, etc.) the bicyclist would be at fault in MI because he would be breaking the law by not using a light after dark.
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Old 12-02-06, 02:28 PM   #5
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A couple months ago (in my area) a ninja cyclist got taken out crossing a 6 lane major road against the light at 5am. The driver was not charged. After 30 years of driving I hit a deer with almost no warning (got my foot off the gas). The only difference is the deer didn't (could not) know any better. It was tragic for the cyclist and the person who hit him.
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Old 12-02-06, 02:33 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CliftonGK1
I'm not sure about the fault situation in those cases, but here in Seattle, you're required to have the following on your whip if you travel after dusk:

Front light (white)
Rear light (red)
Front reflector (white)
Rear reflector (red)
Pedal reflectors (amber)

I can't remember if wheel reflectors are mentioned in the law or not, or what the visibility distances are for all those items. I guess if I got hit I'm screwed because I don't have a red reflector in back (I have white DOT diamonds and a yellow/orange 'slow moving vehicle' triangle,) or amber pedal reflectors (although I have a yellow legband.)
The got me on the pedal reflectors (LOOK and SPDs) but all my cycling shoes have reflective piping. My commuter rims also have black reflective tape between every set of spokes. If / when it starts peeling it'll be a real mess. Meanwhile I light up quite well.
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Old 12-02-06, 02:44 PM   #7
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It's good to check out your country or state's laws since they differ so widely. As most BF commuters will tell you, that's the 'feel good' level. Usually, you'll need way more than that to be visible especially in bad winter conditions.
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Old 12-02-06, 02:46 PM   #8
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ninja cyclist??
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Old 12-02-06, 02:48 PM   #9
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Do cars not have headlights anymore? Seems to me the driver of the car should pay attention where they are driving their 2000 pound hunk of steel and not look for excuses as to why they ran a human over, regardless of what the law says. I drove a car for years and the thought never would have occurred to me that if I ran someone over at night that it would be their fault for not being bright enough. I usually did have my headlights on after dark though.
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Old 12-02-06, 02:55 PM   #10
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It's that ringtone thing
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Old 12-02-06, 04:32 PM   #11
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Happened locally earlier this year. Cyclist, age 20, on his way home from work at McDonalds, shortly after 6pm. Cyclist killed, driver not charged.

I nearly hit a wrong-way ninja cyclist a few weeks back. After dark, raining (rain on my glasses too), he saw my halogen and front blinkie and swerved around me into oncoming traffic. I never saw him until he was already swerving around me. Fortunately, cars were giving me plenty of room (no doubt due to my two blinkies, a CatEye LD-1000 on the bike and CatEye LD-600 on my helmet) so he made it.
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Old 12-02-06, 04:33 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vrkelley
It's that ringtone thing


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Old 12-02-06, 04:36 PM   #13
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While the local laws will get to decide who is at 'fault' I think that as a cyclist riding at night you must take proper precautions or else not be surprised or upset when someone else doesn't see you. That someone else doesn't even have to be in a car.

A few weeks ago during my ride home from work I rode down a very dark street for about one block. There were few porch lights on, no street lights, and it was raining. I nearly ran right into the back of another cyclist who was walking down the middle of the street, pushing his bike. He was wearing his helmet which had a light on it that was turned off. I did not see him at all until the last moment. No question about it, if I had ran into him we'd both be hurtin' and he would be 100% to blame.
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Old 12-02-06, 04:52 PM   #14
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I would feel bad about hitting anybody when driving, but will recognize when it's not my fault. Ninja cyclists are seriously just asking for it. You can't blame motorists for not noticing them.
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Old 12-02-06, 05:42 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CliftonGK1
I'm not sure about the fault situation in those cases, but here in Seattle, you're required to have the following on your whip if you travel after dusk:

Front light (white)
Rear light (red)
Front reflector (white)
Rear reflector (red)
Pedal reflectors (amber)

I can't remember if wheel reflectors are mentioned in the law or not, or what th
Do you have a source? This sounds really restrictive.


I myself would tell them to F((( Off
I have my err your state laws Friker.

RCW 46.61.780 Lamps and other equipment on bicycles.

(1) Every bicycle when in use during the hours of darkness as defined in RCW 46.37.200 shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the state patrol which shall be visible from all distances from one hundred feet to six hundred feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of five hundred feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector. (2) Every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement.
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Old 12-02-06, 06:03 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gwhalin
Do cars not have headlights anymore? Seems to me the driver of the car should pay attention where they are driving their 2000 pound hunk of steel and not look for excuses as to why they ran a human over, regardless of what the law says. I drove a car for years and the thought never would have occurred to me that if I ran someone over at night that it would be their fault for not being bright enough. I usually did have my headlights on after dark though.
Don't mean to be arguementative, but I realize this is an easy fallacy to believe. I have some pretty decent training in accident investigation, and working out the calculations most cars under the absolute BEST of conditions will "outrun" their low beam headlights at about 45 MPH. Add just the slightest amount of inattentiveness, slower recognition or reaction times, a few miles on your brakes, tires, suspension, etc, adverse weather and/or road conditions and you will "outrun" them much faster.
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Old 12-02-06, 06:14 PM   #17
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In the US, I believe that when there is any type of accident it is always "the other persons" fault.
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Old 12-02-06, 06:34 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gwhalin
Do cars not have headlights anymore?
When you're turning onto the road from another road and looking left to see if there is traffic coming from that side, the headlights are not pointed that way and can't help you.

Having said that, I like your attitude about being extra-careful on the road, not overriding your headlights and being on the lookout for ninja peds and cyclists. But that still doesn't guarantee you'll see them if they try to be invisible, which some of them seem to.
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Old 12-02-06, 06:51 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robtown
It was tragic for the cyclist and the person who hit him.
This is what many cyclists ignore when they say they're the only one who'll get hurt if the break the law and they get hit-- they also ruin the life of the person who hit them.
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Old 12-02-06, 08:53 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by CrosseyedCrickt
In the US, I believe that when there is any type of accident it is always "the other persons" fault.
Thats 100% true, and in a automobile accident it's always "no fault but an accident" by the police, DA, Jury or the Judge and it's considered act of god, fate, karma etc... and no one should be blamed.
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Old 12-03-06, 02:34 PM   #21
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There is only so much one can do about other road users who are completely invisible and unpredictable, but fault aside, my guilt would be lower if:
1. I stopped fully at all stop lines (marked or not) and looked carefully both/all ways at every place requiring a stop
2. I drove at the speed limit or less. Less where conditions (traffic, weather, light conditions) are less than optimal.
3. I put 100% of mental focus into driving. No distractions, no in car conversations, let alone cell phone use, no fidding with dials (radio, AC, etc.) except when one can be certain no unexpected situation can occur.
4. I kept my entire windshield and side windows clean and my headlights clean and well adusted.

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Old 12-03-06, 02:55 PM   #22
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i hit a cyclist while driving once about 4 years ago. it was 100% his fault though, he swerved right into traffic and right in front of my car. i only had enough time to hit the brakes and not hit him as hard. it was pretty intense. i thought i'd killed the guy.


no fault was given to me. he even tried to sue me like 2 years afterwards but he lost.
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Old 12-03-06, 03:43 PM   #23
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If I ever get into a collision I think it will be with a ninja cyclist or pedestrian. They can just pop out anywhere. They scare me more than city buses and dualie puckup's with trailers. A motor vehicle I can usually hear before way before I see their lights. But these ninjas... sometimes I can't see them until they are two feet away. I mean what kind of idiot dresses in all black clothing at night? Sometimes I think it would be good tactics to just take them out from the get go. But you can't get enough time to plan an attack.
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Old 12-03-06, 10:32 PM   #24
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This was posted a while ago, sort of answers the question

http://velonews.com/news/fea/11261.0.html
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Old 12-03-06, 11:00 PM   #25
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California law requires the use of a white headlight and a red tail light when riding after dark. I'm not sure about reflectors but my shoes have reflective piping along with parts of my jersey. There are no reflectors mounted on my bike and I only ride in the wee hours of the morning and at dusk when I commute. Otherwise, it's daytime when I'm riding.
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