Can I Sue a Spandex-Wearing Cyclist if They Knock Me into the River? Who Has the Right of Way?

I'm pretty pissed off at Portland's spandex-wearing cyclists. I was crossing the Broadway Bridge when one nearly ran me over, screaming insults because I didn't get out of his way. Can I sue if they knock me into the river? Who has the right of way?

—Mr. I Hate Spandex

Ah, spandexers, the SUVs of cycling. Call me old-fashioned, but I say if you need a streamlined bodysuit to ride your bike because the air itself isn't getting out your way fast enough, you're in too much of a hurry to be cycling. Maybe you should call the people at whatever super-important place you need to be and have them send a helicopter.

In any case, Hater, feel free to keep on hating. As a pedestrian, you have the right of way in virtually every interaction you might have with a bicycle, either on the sidewalk or on a multi-use path. You're encouraged to keep to the right, but bikes have to stop even if you throw yourself directly under their wheels.

Pity the poor cyclist—forced to share the road with rudderless, unpredictable scofflaws, he knows all too well that if he hits one, it'll be his fault no matter how irresponsibly the other party was behaving. As a motorist, of course, I can only imagine what that must feel like.

As to whether you can sue the guy—this is America; sue the river if you want. That said, your chances of a fat insurance settlement are middling at best: As of this writing, Americans still can't buy automobile-style liability insurance for bikes. (Some renter's and homeowner's policies will cover you for mayhem you may inflict while on a bike; check with your carrier.)

Incidentally, for those keeping score at home, this column has now taken sides with cars against trucks, with bicycles against cars, and with pedestrians against bicyclists. Next week: a put-upon turtle, desperate to cross the sidewalk. Don't miss it!

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