¶ 1 This case raises another question about rules of the road for drivers and bicyclists. Here, the bicyclist was riding in a bike lane, but in the direction opposed to the flow of traffic. He was injured when he was hit by a car turning onto the roadway from a parking lot. The jury found the driver not negligent.
¶ 2 The court instructed the jury as to the duties of both driver and cyclist under the statutes. As pertains to bicyclists, the statutes are not a model of clarity. But the instructions were proper, and the evidence supports the verdict. We therefore affirm.
¶ 3 Karen Shea was making a right turn from a supermarket parking lot into the northbound lanes of the Bothell-Everett Highway. John Borromeo was riding southbound in the adjacent bike lane. As she
¶ 4 That portion of the highway has two lanes of traffic in each direction, and an additional designated bicycle lane on each side. The bike lanes are separated from the main traffic lanes by a single solid white line. Where the collision occurred, the road is divided so that cars exiting the parking lot must turn right, traversing a sidewalk and the bicycle lane before reaching the traffic lanes.
¶ 5 Shea stopped her car before crossing the sidewalk, looked both to her left and her right, and then pulled her car to the edge of the bicycle lane. She remained stopped for about 10 seconds, awaiting a suitable break in traffic. It is undisputed that the weather was clear and sunny, the view northward was unobstructed, and Shea did not look north in the 10 seconds before she turned.
¶ 6 Riding south in the bicycle lane, Borromeo slowed as he approached the parking lot driveway. He believed Shea had seen him and was waiting for him to pass, so he proceeded. Borromeo had nearly crossed the driveway when Shea began her turn. Her left bumper hit Borromeo's rear tire.
¶ 7 At trial, Borromeo argued that a bicyclist in a bike lane is not subject to the rules of the road, and that Shea had a duty to see and avoid him. Shea emphasized that Borromeo was riding against the flow of automobile traffic, and that she reasonably did not anticipate that a cyclist might approach from that direction. She explained that there was another bicycle lane on the opposite side of the road, that markings painted on the bike lane would have been upside-down for a cyclist riding southbound, that signs on nearby sections of the same road indicated the bike lane was for northbound travel only, and that in her experience commuting along the route, she had never seen a cyclist riding southbound in that lane. The jury found Shea not negligent.
¶ 8 Borromeo appeals the judgment as well as the court's denial of his post-trial motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict or new trial.
¶ 9 Instructions are proper when they permit the parties to argue their theories of the case, do not mislead the jury, and properly inform the jury of the applicable law.
¶ 10 The relevant statutes are RCW 46.61.755 and RCW 46.61.770. RCW 46.61.755 provides:
RCW 46.61.770 provides:
¶ 11 At issue are Instructions 12 and 13, and the court's refusal to instruct the jury that Borromeo had no duty to observe the rules of the road. Instruction 12 reads:
¶ 12 Instruction 13 reads:
These instructions accurately state the law.
¶ 13 Borromeo contends that these instructions were improper because a bike lane is not part of the roadway, and the court should have instructed the jury that he had no duty to observe the rules of the road. Thus, the central dispute is how to interpret the phrase "on a roadway" in RCW 46.61.755 and .770(1).
¶ 14 The statutes are not a model of clarity. In Pudmaroff v. Allen,
¶ 15 In this case, the judge left for the jury to decide whether Borromeo was riding on a roadway and therefore subject to the rules of the road. The court did not err in exercising its discretion to instruct according to the text of the existing statutes. We think, however, that the statutes do apply to cyclists in a bicycle lane such as the one on the Bothell-Everett Highway.
¶ 16 The prime objective in statutory construction is to effectuate legislative intent.
¶ 17 A bicycle is a vehicle.
¶ 18 This interpretation is consistent with RCW 46.61.770(1), which allows cyclists on a roadway to choose to ride in traffic through lanes, on the shoulder, or in designated bicycle lanes. (Borromeo did not object to the part of Instruction 13 setting forth that part of the statute.) A bicyclist in a marked, designated bicycle lane is on a roadway.
¶ 19 Borromeo next contends that the first sentence of Instruction 13 (bicyclists must use far side of right lane) was irrelevant because he was not in a traffic lane, and overemphasized the defense theory of the case by suggesting he should ride in the direction of automobile traffic.
¶ 20 The court included that sentence to provide context. Instructions may not be "`so repetitious and overlapping as to make them emphatically favorable to one party.'"
¶ 21 The court did not err in its instructions to the jury.
Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law or New Trial
¶ 22 Judgment as a matter of law is appropriate only when, viewed in the nonmoving party's favor, the evidence is insufficient to sustain a verdict for that nonmoving party.
The jury was also instructed that even if Shea violated a statutory duty to yield to Borromeo, such a violation is not itself determinative but is evidence to be weighed on the question of negligence.
¶ 23 "Whether a person has exercised due care for the safety of other users of the highway is a factual issue to be determined only by the trier of facts."
¶ 24 Affirmed.
BECKER, COX, JJ, concur.