Witnessed a bike accident this morning..who was at fault?

Unfortunately I was behind a guy on a scooter this morning who had a collision with a car.

He was ok-ish…he stood up, but then complained of back pain, I took him to the side of the road, told him to sit down and then called the emergency services. Even now I am not sure in my mind who was at fault.

We were both going along Commercial Street, heading towards Aldgate East and the accident happened at the pelican lights before the lights at the top, where there is a road on the left and right.

We were both filtering on the outside of stationary traffic and the lights on the crossing were on red. Now I know for a fact, when those lights on are red vehicles on travelling in our direction tend to stop to let vehicles on the left pull out and turn right. Hence I ALWAYS approach with caution, as 9/10 there will be a car turning right across my path. Sure enough this is what happened, a van stopped to let traffic out, matey boy on the scooter just carried on and got taken out by a car turning right.

My initial thought was that unfortunately it was the guy on the scooter at fault, because whilst the bloke in the car was turning into his path, he really stood no chance of seeing the scooter, as he has to stick his bonnet right the way out to be able to see if it is clear anyway. By the same token, does the car have a responsibility to think because he cannot see if anything is on the outside of the stationary traffic, he shouldn’t move because he doesn’t know if it is safe?

I don’t like pointing the finger at fellow PTW’ers, as we have enough problems with people trying to make us responsible for their mistakes, but in this case I think perhaps the scooter was at fault.

What say you?

The car should edge the nose out slowly enough that the scooter rider can see it and either go around (if he’s too close) or stop. That also requires the scooter to be filtering at a sensible speed/position so that he can stop in time.

It’s unreasonable to expect a car to see around the queueing traffic and if he doesn’t move out then everybody (except filtering motorbikes) will be sat there all day. So assuming he didn’t just pull out at speed, the scooterist probably has to take most of the blame.

Just my uninformed opinion mind.

The scooter’s speed was the same the whole time. I tend to creep up to that junction and stop by the vehicle that is in front of the junction. If it is clear then I will carry on, otherwise wait for the cars to turn right.

Sadly many years ago in my car I had the same issue. Bloke in a van left a space and indicated that I could pull out and turn right. My view was blocked, put my bonnet across the line and whack down goes the rider.

I got nailed for it, 100% my fault according to both police and insurers. Unless the law has changed?

hmm. i often have to drive into london, and i tell you my worst nightmare is if i ever hit a motorcyclist.

unfortunately though the roads can be dangerous, and there are too many people out there who just dont pay attention. (on 2 and 4 wheels)

The car should have indicated and pulled out slowly, whilst the scooter should have been very cautious, and to be honest if there is a turn of to the right, he shouldnt be filtering through!

I suspect technically it’s the driver’s fault (unless he can prove the scooter rider was careless), but I would say the rider could probably have avoided the incident.
Glad he seemed relatively ok.

You see this is my question…even if the guy in the car is being very cautious, he has to stick at least 3 foot of bonnet out to be able to check outside the line of stationary traffic.

I tried to put myself in his shoes and thought to be fair to him, there was much he could do to avoid the accident, save not pulling out at all, as he had no way of knowing there was a bike there, unless he got out his car, walked over and had a look.

The copper I gave my statement to said the scooter shouldn’t have been over-taking on zig-zag lines approaching a crossing, but I was taught you could overtake, except the front vehicle at the crossing. Is that wrong?

I thought there was strictly no overtaking in the Zig Zag Zone (try saying that after a heavy night!).

I’m just a noob however, so don’t quote me.

It seems I am right…


You can overtake, but not the car at the front of the queue.

Yep my bad. I bow to experience, with thanks. :Whistling:

monkimark (14/12/2011)

You can overtake, but not the car at the front of the queue.


Exactly, therefore I’d assume that the guy on the scooter is to blame

He entered a junction from behind a van too!! So he clearly didn’t even think that he needed a decent view of the junction before going into it.

If I remember correctly my highway code, even if a vehicle stops to allow you to turn into the road, do not assume it is safe to do so.

No overtaking on zig zag lines at crossings either, although it is very common because of bikers and cyclists being used to filtering to go to and stop at the car before the crossing anyway.

From the advise I’ve had, which obviously is only advise… when filtering, you’re really really really on thin ice legally so you have to be extra cautious so as to not be involved in a collision or cause one. If the bike was continuing at a speed and didn’t stop to check for emerging vehicles I’d say any lawyer worth his salt could easily cast doubt as to whether he was driving with due care and attention…

the cars fault sounds like scooter had right of way and the van should not stop to let any1 out as he cant control the rest of the traffic and wot the scooterist is going to do, not his call.

Ya i think they guy on the scooter will get the blame for this.

First of all he ‘over took’ even though there were zig zag lines each side of the crossing. He then overtook/filtered past the the vehicle at the front of the lights. These should be enough to prove he was in the wrong from a legal point of view.

If he decided to cross a junction with his view blocked by a van so that he couldn’t see the junction until he was in it then he needs to have a serious think about either getting some proper defensive riding training and re-evaluating his riding attitude.

He definitely didn’t show any due care when crossing the junction, but then perhaps he was not aware that it was there. Not that this is an excuse…if I am filtering on the outside and can’t see the nearside kerb because of high-sided vehicles (vans, lorries etc) I tend to slow right down and if I see a gap between vehicles, I assume a vehicle or person could be emerging from the gap and take even more caution.

But this comes with experience. The guy was on L-plates and to be honest his standard of riding prior to the accident was pretty poor, moving at speed on the inside of vehicles and generally riding like a bit of a [email protected] without to much room for error…hence he didn’t exercise caution at the junction. Ultimately I felt it was his responsibility to ensure when he was filtering he was doing it as safely as he could, as the car driver couldn’t really do much.

I take the point that the van driver obviously has no right to direct traffic, but we all know everyone does it and if we didn’t let people go London would grind to a halt.

thanks for the link, i had no idea you couldn’t overtake by riding “over” zig zag lines! reeeeealllly? nobody crosses the zigzags?

i knew about the not going past the front vehicle @ a crossing, but i always wonder which crossing this applies to. so say there is a X junction with traffic lights as weell as a crossing… does this mean we can’t go to the front or is it only at a zebra crossing / pelican / crossing where it’s purely about the crossing and no junction of roads if that makes sens…

Personally I think it is safer to filter by crossing over the zig zag lines as you sometimes get peds crossing near the junction between vehicles, if you are right next to the vehicles neither you nor the ped stand much chance.

The Highway code has a few paras that cover this. Setting aside the zig zag question, I would say that all 3 people involved are potentially at fault.

Manoeuvring. You should be aware of what is behind and to the sides before manoeuvring. Look behind you; use mirrors if they are fitted. When in traffic queues look out for pedestrians crossing between vehicles and vehicles emerging from junctions or changing lanes. Position yourself so that drivers in front can see you in their mirrors. Additionally, when filtering in slow-moving traffic, take care and keep your speed low.

… Be prepared for unexpected or difficult situations, for example, the road being blocked beyond a blind bend. Be prepared to adjust your speed as a precaution where there are junctions, be prepared for road users emerging

In slow-moving traffic. You should … be aware of cyclists and motorcyclists who may be passing on either side

The approach to a junction may have a ‘Give Way’ sign or a triangle marked on the road. You MUST give way to traffic on the main road when emerging from a junction with broken white lines across the road.

It is often difficult to see motorcyclists and cyclists, especially when they are coming up from behind, coming out of junctions, at roundabouts, overtaking you or filtering through traffic. Always look out for them before you emerge from a junction; they could be approaching faster than you think. When turning right across a line of slow-moving or stationary traffic, look out for cyclists or motorcyclists on the inside of the traffic you are crossing. Be especially careful when turning, and when changing direction or lane. Be sure to check mirrors and blind spots carefully.


  • The scooter rider did not take enough care when passing the junction.
  • The driver of the car did not take enough care when emerging.
  • The driver of the van who stopped to let traffic has some potential responsibility too if he deliberately stopped in such a way to let traffic emerge.

In fact, if the van driver gave any sign whatsoever to the driver that it was safe to emerge, I would put the blame almost (but not quite) entirely on him. Say 70% van driver, 20% scooter, 10% car driver. If he didn’t, then scooter 60%, car driver 30%, van driver 10%.