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Bicycle Accidents Caused By Animals: Cyclists May Have Legal Recourse

Thursday, February 16, 2017

In most bicycle accidents, the cause can be attributed to a handful of things. Among the top five are driver error, cyclist error, hazardous conditions, faulty equipment and medical emergency (e.g. sudden heart attack). However, as a Florida Today reporter pointed out earlier this year, animals may cause bicycle accidents too.

Accidents Involving Domestic Animals on the Run

The cause behind the reported accident was a box turtle but other animals have been known to get in the way of cyclists as well. FOX21 News reported on one such accident that occurred this past spring. That one involved an at-large canine. Our state does have dog leash laws meant to prevent bicycle accidents. But of course, it doesn’t address other stray animals or the occasional, wayward box turtle.

Current laws dictate that canines are not allowed to roam bicycle paths or other public areas without being on a leash and under control of their respective owners. So even if a dog was tied up before it broke free and caused a bicycle accident, it doesn’t matter. The owner may be responsible for costs associated with the accident, including the cyclists’ medical bills.

Wild Animals and Their Owners Aren’t Beyond Reproach

Leash laws are not the only animal related ones that may influence the outcome of bicycle accident cases. In some cases, strict liability laws commonly mentioned during civil jury instruction may apply (See Series 400 Negligence, Section 461). For instance, let’s assume that the box turtle was a pet. Although the person may have thought of the box turtle as a pet, chances are an argument could be made against that.

If deemed a wild animal by the court, the injured cyclist could potentially sue the person under the section of law we just mentioned. So you see, in our state, there is more to bicycle vs. animal related accidents than meets the eye. To learn more about domestic and wild animals’ possible impact on bicycle accidents in California, please contact the Law Office of Gary Brustin.

Kudos to Advisory Groups Working Tirelessly to Perfect Bicycle Laws

Thursday, February 09, 2017

In previous months, we discussed bicycle laws across the country, including those that pertain to California. So we’re taking a moment this week to follow-up on what’s taking place in San Diego. You may have already heard but our neighbors have opted to adopt a Bicycle Advisory Committee. It’s initial adoption and recent changes were covered by San Diego Tribune reporter, David Garrick, in late November.

Bike Helmets Off to San Diego

At the Law Office of Gary Brustin, we think that Bicycle Advisory Committees are a fine idea and applaud the City of San Diego’s cycling community for their efforts. And out admiration is not expressed in hollow words. We are active in a number of similar groups, including the Silicon Valley and California Bicycle Coalition. As such, we can fully appreciate what they, and other cycling enthusiasts, are doing to keep everyone protected.

New Advocates Are Always Welcome

In addition, we heartily encourage other cyclists to become involved with the Bicycle Advisory Committee’s efforts. As of now, all board positions appear to be filled but cyclists are always welcome to attend meetings and express their concerns to those holding the current posts. We’ve dug up information about how to contact them and determine their meeting schedules. You can find it here or by reaching out to city officials as needed.

Help Chart Courses That Matter to Cyclists

Although the group is based in San Diego, their efforts may eventually impact other areas within our state. So, it behooves cyclists from across the country to pay attention to their good work. Also, their efforts could quite possibly serve as a road map for other cyclists looking to form advisory committees in their own respective areas of the world. To learn more about these types of advocacy groups and how being a proactive cyclist may help us all in the long run, please contact the Law Office of Gary Brustin.

Biking Fans and Industry Members Flip Their Helmets over the News

Thursday, February 02, 2017

In late November 2016, biking magazines and bloggers started talking enthusiastically about a new invention currently being tested across the pond. It’s a cycling helmet. We know, cycling helmets aren’t new but this one is because of the materials used in its design. The creator went with something many in the cycling industry weren’t expecting, recycled paper.

Paper and Inflatable Products Generate Buzz

It comes on the heels of the 3D printing trend and other European initiatives to change the way cycling safety is done. Examples include a shift towards inflatable helmets and stronger bicycle frames. But are these new pieces of biking equipment really something we should all run out and buy? As a devoted cyclist and bicycling advocate, I’d like to urge caution.

Choosing Time-Tested Over Trendy

Many of these trendy items are largely untested. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to trade in what works for something that may not keep us safe from both on and off-road hazards. Nonetheless, like other bikers, I enjoy keeping up with the trends along with the latest safety recalls. Speaking of which, there have been a few recalls as of late.

Year End Recalls Continue

Since we’re on the subject, among the most recent are bicycle helmets manufactured by SAHN and Schwinn. Interestingly, the SAHN helmets, like the paper ones we mentioned earlier, were tested using foreign standards. Consequently, they were pulled for not complying with our government’s industry regulations. As for the latter bike helmets, they were thought to have faulty strap and buckle assemblies.

Recourse May Be Possible

Remember, in cases where trendy or classic cycling helmets fail to do as intended, bikers may have legal recourse. Depending on the product, its origin and all pertinent facts, cyclists could sue the manufacturer as well as the designers or sellers. To learn more about changes in bicycle safety and how they may affect cyclists’ rights moving forward, please contact the Law Office of Gary Brustin today.

Extra Accessories That Increase Cycling Safety

Friday, January 27, 2017

Everyone knows that one of the key ways of staying safe when riding in traffic is to wear clothes that allow you to be seen. However, while lights and bright cloths will help cars see you, that is not the only way to stay safe on the road. While not mandatory, there are some extra accessories that will help you stay safe while cycling.

Eye Protection

Eye protection is important not only if there is strong winds and debris flying, but in sunlight too. When you are riding in high traffic, you can’t afford to be blinded by the sun for even a second. While clear glasses should be used at night or in low-light conditions, tinted glasses should be used during the day.

Fenders

One of the less desirable aspects of riding a bicycle is that your tires can catch debris and fling it right into your face. While eye protection can help with this, putting fenders on your bicycle can dramatically reduce these incidents. Not only do they keep debris out of your eyes, but they keep off water and mud as well.

Bells and Horns

Bells and horns aren’t just for old school bicycles, they serve an important purpose. With pedestrians constantly looking at their phones, a little bell ringing is an easier way of letting them know you need to pass. When it comes to cars, you need a horn with a little more oomph behind it, but they make horns specifically for that purpose too. As bikes are so easy to miss, horns assure that you never are.

Unfortunately, even with these accessories, accidents happen, more to cyclists than we’d like. If you have been in a cycling accident, contact us today.

Study Find Cyclists Have Higher Accident Risk When intersections Aren’t Right Angles

Friday, January 20, 2017

If you cycle every day, then you are already aware that intersections pose a huge risk to your safety on the road. If you haven’t read the statistics, then you found out firsthand how careless cars are to your rights at these junctions. However, a new study finds that not only are bicycle accidents more likely at intersections, but that statistic is only increased when the intersection is not at a right angle.

Using GPS, the study tracked 3,266 bicycle crashes throughout New York City, gathering data on intersection angles, street width, speed limits, and average traffic level. The majority of the crashes, over 60 percent, happened at intersections. When these crashes were compared to intersection angles, it found that cyclists were 37 percent more likely to crash at non-right angle intersections.

The good news, if you can call it that, is that crashes that didn’t happen at intersections were 31 percent more likely to cause serious injury. The study also found that crashes were likely to happen on narrow streets.

So what does this mean for the everyday cyclist? Well, unfortunately, you can never predict if a crash is going to happen, but at least now we know to watch out at non-right angle intersections more cautiously. This new study will also help city planners of blossoming cycling cities to better plan streets for both cyclist and car safety.

If you have been in a cycling accident at a non-right angle intersection or otherwise, contact us today. The Law Office of Gary Brustin is dedicated to representing the rights of the ever-growing cyclist community.

Could the Way You Turn Be an Accident Waiting to Happen?

Friday, January 13, 2017

If you are just starting off with biking in high traffic areas, there is so much to learn. However, people rarely think that the way they ride their bike is one of them. This has led to even seasoned veteran cyclists not focusing so much on how they ride so long as they follow the rules of the road. However, could it be an accident waiting to happen?

No matter whether you like to ride fast or are a dedicated slow rider, the way you turn on the road could be a set up for a major accident, if it hasn’t caused one already.

But how could a turn make such a difference? You just turn the handlebars, right? Unfortunately, just turning with only your handlebars is a slow and unsteady process that definitely won’t allow you to respond in an emergency situation. Turning this way is so old-fashioned, and while it works fine in less crowded area, in the city, you need a more responsive way.

Before heading out into high traffic areas, go find yourself an empty parking lot and practice this new way. Instead of awkwardly jerking your handlebars to turn, try slightly shifting your weight to the right or left depending on which way you are turning. Notice when you lean into it, the bike follows and you don’t really need to use your handlebars. This turn allows you to not only turn faster and with more stability, but you can easily snap back in the event of an emergency situation.

No matter whether the turn was to blame or not, if you were in a cycling accident, contact us today. The Law Office of Gary Brustin is dedicated to fighting for the rights of cyclists.

New York City Now Using 311 and Open Data to Track Bicycle Law Blockers

Friday, January 06, 2017

New York City has often been a major hub of trendsetters, and now it is giving cyclists, at least in this big city, a new trend to show off. Now in New York City, people can report others who block bike lanes with their cars through the 311 system. That same data will also go online. This data not only shows where bike lane abuse is most rampant, but it also shows how much the New York City Police Force ignores it.

city-produced map shows that the majority of bike lane abuse happens where bikes are most prevalent, in Manhattan and Brooklyn. On the map, red dots are reports that the police actively responded to while blue dots were reports where action was not necessary. This means that bike lane blockers either moved, there was not sufficient information available, or, as many bikers suspect, the police just don’t care. As you can see, there is a whole lot of blue.

Not only is this map an innovation in helping the police force enforce bike lanes, but it can also help bikers. Even just glancing at this map, you know you are going to find First Avenue looking more like a parking lot than a bike lane. With any luck, this great innovation could be coming to your city. Think about how helpful this would be in major cities like Los Angeles or Chicago. It will not only help police respond to incidents better, but it serves as a way to remind vehicles that, yeah, you can’t park in bike lanes.

With any luck, by making drivers more aware of bike lanes, it will also cut down on bike accidents. However, until it does, there is always the Law Office of Gary Brustin, a lawyer that is dedicated to making the world a better place for cyclists.

Can the Justice System Ever Be Balanced For Cyclists?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

If you have never been in a bicycle accident involving another driver (or even cyclist), then you are pretty lucky. However, if you use your bicycle almost every day for your commute, then you have likely had a few near misses by now. Unfortunately, for those who have ever been the victim of a road crime while on their bicycle and have gone to court, you have had to deal with the often incomprehensibly soft sentences towards the offending party. In the eyes of other cyclists, at very least, these sentences don't match the crime.

For crimes that involve bicycle damage and minor injuries, light sentences are understandable, but what about an accident that results in the death of a cyclist? If a car had negligently not given the due space to another car on the road, and then hit and killed the other driver, it is not likely they would get off with community service, but such are the feather light punishments for drivers responsible for killing cyclists.

There have been many debates on this lapse of punishment between government officials and cycling advocate groups, but with no relief to be found by cyclists. Unfortunately, in this car-oriented world, for some reason cyclists still don't seem like people.

Have you been a victim of a cycling accident and aren't getting the justice you deserve? Contact us today so the Gary Brustin Law Office can fight hard for your human rights as a cyclist. You shouldn't have to have justice denied to you just because you don't drive a car.

New Bike Lock That Will Make Bike Thefts Vomit

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Bicycle theft is common in many larger cities and often a crime that doesn't get much attention from law enforcement. Typically bike thieves are successful and remain at large for long period of time. However, it seems like one bike lock company is giving cyclists a way to protect their property without standing guard at their bicycle.

The SkunkLock is a revolution in bike lock technology. Unlike other bike locks that choose to go bigger, thicker, and heavier, the SkunkLock took a different approach after watching a thief sawzall though a bike lock in broad daylight with people just watching him do it. Instead of trying to make their lock out of tougher material, they chose to make it... Stinkier.

If a thief tries to cut through a SkunkLock, it releases a compound they call Formula D1. This legally complaint pressurized gas causes shortness of breath, blurred vision, and can induce vomiting to those within the close range of a chemical. While what exactly is in the compound is a secret, they did give clues that it is similar to a capsaicin-based pepper spray, but one that does not spread in such a wide radius so as to irritate anyone that is passing by and not stealing a bicycle.

The idea behind the chemical release is to incite thieves to run away when exposed. Unfortunately, the SkunkLock may pose unexpected surprise to law enforcement that try to enforce bicycle parking laws. If they cut the lock on the bicycle, than that may leave the cyclist victim to local booby trap laws aimed at protecting law enforcement officials.

Even if you don't want to put yourself potentially at odds with local law enforcement over a SkunkLock, you shouldn't let the world take advantage of you just because you are a cyclist. If you have been the victim of bicycle theft or an accident due to the negligence of others, you may have legal action available to you. Contact the Gary Brustin Law Offices today.


How the Dutch Reach Can Reduce Bicycling Accidents

Friday, December 16, 2016

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") estimates that more than 50,000 cyclists suffer injuries every year, with more than 700 of those resulting in fatalities. Cyclists who regularly ride in traffic can take every precaution to prevent collisions with motorized vehicles, yet those collisions continue to happen as motorists get distracted or fail to notice the presence of a cyclist around their vehicles. At least one category of car-cyclist collisions can be reduced or prevented if motorists were to practice the Dutch reach when exiting their parked vehicles.

As the name implies, the Dutch reach originated in the Netherlands, where cycling is so deeply ingrained in the national culture that more than 30% of the population uses bicycles for their daily commutes. Dutch motorists who have parked their vehicles along the roadside have been trained to open their doors with their right hands. This forces them to reach across their bodies, which then causes them to turn their torsos and heads over to their left side. While looking left, the parked motorist then has a better opportunity to look behind his car to see if any cyclists might be passing the car while he is opening the door.

Drivers in the United States know to glance into their rear view mirrors to see if any cars are coming, but the limited range of sight in a rearview mirror will not always reveal a cyclist who might be riding past the car. If the driver does not see the cyclist, he might open the door directly into the cyclist's path, causing the cyclist to collide with the open driver's side car door. If American drivers practiced the Dutch reach, the frequency of this type of cycling accident in the United States would be dramatically reduced.

The American car culture does not always adapt itself well to the type of behavioral changes represented by the Dutch reach. Cyclists can pave the way for more widespread use of the Dutch reach in the United States by practicing it themselves and by encouraging non-cycling friends to practice it.

The Dutch reach can reduce the frequency of cycling accidents, but it will not altogether prevent them. Lightly-protected cyclists are no match for careless and distracted motorists and heavy cars and car doors. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Gary Brustin in California are active advocates for the cycling lifestyle. When cyclists are injured in collisions with cars, we help them recover the largest damages awards available to compensate them for their injuries and the value of their damaged cycling equipment. If you have been in a cycling accident, please contact us to schedule a consultation to discuss how we can assist you to recover the damages that may be owed to you.


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We handle cases throughout California, including the cities of:  

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