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Bicycle Checklists: Does Yours Include Everything Needed to Stay Safe?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

When’s the last time you checked the tension on your bike chain or oiled the gearing? If it’s been more than six months, time to brush up on your bicycle safety. They are two tasks that should be on every cyclist’s safety checklist and there’s more. If you’re not sure of the others, we’d suggest signing up for a bicycle safety class.

There is a number of bicycle safety classes held throughout California. Some are offered as part of assorted coalitions’ urban cycling workshops, including this one in San Francisco. The classes often include take-home or downloadable checklists that cyclists may use throughout the year at their discretion. If they don’t we’re sure that upon course completion you’ll be able to create one on your own.

Checking the bike’s moving parts should be just one category of tasks on your bicycle safety checklist. Stationary elements, including the frame, horn, reflectors, saddle, fenders and front fork should be noted somewhere on the checklist too. And although most pre-formed lists don’t have it, we’d suggest adding an internet search to the mix. Internet searches and notification alerts are important for cyclists who worry about recalls.

We feel that taking note of recalls is an essential part of bicycle safety, especially given how many occur each year. The total number of bike related recalls for 2016 has not been released yet. However, one look at Bicycle Retailer and similar periodicals shows just how many bikes are defective from the get go. Among the most recent brands to produce faulty products were Trek, Venge ViAS, Fuji, Breezer, Thule Sprint and Cannondale.

Keep in mind that bicycle inspections may not reveal the defects mentioned in recall notices. That’s why we are advocates of checking the notices too. They may help cyclists, especially those who end up injured, receive compensation for their trouble. To learn more about bicycle safety checklists and how to minimize one’s risk of injury, please contact The Law Office of Gary Brustin now.

Bicycle Safety and Negligence Questions Largely Remain Unanswered

Thursday, March 16, 2017

It’s a well-known fact that accidents involving distracted or otherwise negligent drivers happen often. Sometimes the drivers hit other vehicles or pedestrians. Other times, it’s an unsuspecting cyclist that ends up injured. There are laws and bicycle safety measures in place to help prevent these types of occurrences but none that address self-driving vehicles. That’s one of the reasons why we find the whole Uber movement disconcerting.

In December 2016, it was revealed in The Guardian that the ride sharing company was using self-driving vehicles in some areas of our state. Further, reporters noted that those vehicles were seen committing traffic infractions. Understandably, this begs the question as to who will be responsible should one of these vehicles injure someone. Will it be the ride-sharing company, the vehicle’s owner, software programmers or the car's manufacturer that’s to blame?

That’s a question yet to be formally addressed by our nation’s courts and lawmakers. And we’re not the only ones who are asking it. As far back as 2015, The Washington Post and CNN started delving into these issues. They didn’t come up with definitive answers to the bicycle safety questions self-driving cars propose and neither did The Guardian staff in a subsequent article that appeared in January 2017. However like some polled, we envision these types of cases will bring up issues of comparative and contributory negligence.

As such, all of the people we mentioned in our initial question could find themselves being named litigants. For instance, the software programmers and manufactures have a duty to ensure that the vehicles are safe for their intended use. The same may be said for ride-sharing companies and the people who purchase such vehicles. Of course cyclists must practice bicycle safety as well. Otherwise, they could find themselves on the wrong end of contributory or comparative negligence claims too. To continue discussing the additional impact self-driving vehicles may have on bicycle safety, please contact the Law Office of Gary Brustin today.

Biking’s Benefits Exceeds Expectations When Accidents Aren’t a Factor

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Everyone knows biking is beneficial to one’s health but do you really know how advantageous it can be? Until recently, even the scientific community didn’t fully understand the benefits. But, thanks to a long series of studies, they’re starting to appreciate the scope and breadth of the activity’s positive aspects.

In 2016, scientific journals published the results of studies conducted in the U.S. and abroad on continued bicycle use. There was one study conducted in China that showed biking could reduce depression, hospitalization and premature death in some segments of the population. It was published by Dove Press during the month of December. As avid cyclists, we know what a good ride can do for one’s mood.

One month before, PLOS One also published a study. This one was completed in Belgium and showed that cycling at work could increase cognitive function and overall work productivity. It was similar in spirit to cycling research published in BMJ Open in April 2016. That one focused on having bed-ridden, ventilator dependent people use specialized equipment to cycle in bed. It also revealed that cycling in place could improve the health of critically ill individuals.

Of course we prefer bicycling that involves going places. So, we were also pleased to see the study released in July 2016 by PLOSMedicine. It compared various forms of cycling to one another and found that although all were good for us, some forms could be better. Tops on the list were recreational and commuter rides. No surprise there. Of course the studies we’ve mentioned didn’t take into account bicycle accidents.

They can turn an otherwise healthy ride into a nightmare for all involved. Thankfully, there are ways cyclists who’ve been involved in accidents can turn things back around. To learn more about successfully recovering after a cycling accident and how having a legal team in place can help, please contact the Law Office of Gary Brustin today.

Proposed New Law Would Allow Cycling on Sidewalks in Sacramento

Thursday, March 02, 2017

If you already didn’t know, cycling on sidewalks is illegal in most cities. Many even have fines ready for cyclist that break that law, but in Sacramento, the cycling residents of the city came to city council to discuss a new law that would allow more cycling on sidewalks to provide a safe environment for cyclists.

As it stands now, cycling is illegal in Sacramento everywhere except for residential districts. This is defined by California State Vehicle Code as areas with more than 50 percent housing. In areas that are more than 50 percent housing, cyclists are welcomed to ride on sidewalks, but in some areas in the city, police officers often find it hard to identify the percentage of housing in the area when considering whether or not to fine a cyclist.

However, it is not in residential areas that cyclists need to worry about. It is in the highly trafficked streets of the city where bicycle lanes disappear that cyclists feel they are in the most danger and want to move off the street and onto the sidewalk where the worse case is they hit a person or fall off their bike.

The proposed new law would still ban sidewalk cycling in certain areas such as commercial districts or areas where bike lanes are already present, but cycling advocates just want looser sidewalk laws in a city where traffic can be vicious and not enough cycling infrastructure is in place.

Were you forced to cycle in a busy street because of the lack of bike lanes and restrictive sidewalk laws? Contact us today. No matter what your accident was or who caused it, the Law Office of Gary Brustin fights hard for the rights of the growing cycling community.

Study Suggest Idaho Stop is Safer for Cyclists

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Idaho Stop – It may be a strange colloquialism to many, but for many more it is used to describe rolling through a stop sign instead of stopping fully. While many cyclists are guilty of engaging in an “Idaho Stop,” a new DePaul University study suggests it might actually be safer than coming to a full stop.

The term Idaho Stop comes from the change in Idaho cycling laws that changed the rules from cyclists, being one of the first states to deviate from the rules that govern motorists. A year after Idaho enacted different rules for cyclists including their rolling stop, injuries and cyclist accidents were down 14 percent.

While it is the law in Idaho, in other states, cyclists are still required to come to a full stop, but you are likely among the many law breakers that don’t. Rolling stops allow cyclists to get ahead of traffic and gain better visibility among the mass of cars. Instead of punishing cyclists that want those benefits even though it means breaking the laws, why not just change the laws? That is a question that many cities, like Chicago, are now asking themselves as the safety benefits of Idaho Stops come to light.

Have you been in an accident because the law requires you to make a full stop at red lights and stop signs? Were you hurt by the negligence of a motorist? We can help. The Law Office of Gary Brustin is dedicated to representing the rights of cyclists that were hurt doing what they love and just trying to get around.

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.


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