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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.

Verbal Communication During Group Rides

Friday, December 09, 2016

Going for a group road ride is a great way to get some exercise and meet new friends. Before you go, you should know some commonly used phrases that cyclists use to communicate with the group. Typically, one person calls out when they notice something the rest of the group should know about. Then, the call gets amplified as everyone repeats the phrase so the next sphere of bikers can hear.

Car Back

 

This is probably the phrase heard most often when riding in a group. It means that a car is approaching from the back. Usually, the last person of the group notices a car behind them. They call out “car back” to the person in front of them, who repeats it to the next cyclist, and so forth until the call makes it all the way to the front of the pack. When you hear this phrase, be prepared for a car to pass you. If you are riding two abreast, shift positions such that you are in a single file line to the right hand side of the road.

Car Up

Similar to “car back,” this phrase means that a car is approaching from the front. Typically no action is necessary, but it is important to be self-aware.

Slowing

When you are riding with a group, you are often riding very close to other cyclists. It is important to let others around you know when you are slowing down. If you slow down to go around a curve or as you approach a stop sign, call out “slowing.” Typically, other riders will also slow down, adding to the chorus.

Stopping

 

Similar to slowing, call out “stopping” when coming to a complete stop. This gives the group enough advanced notice for cyclist to unclip from their pedals, if they are using clipless pedals. This phrase may be accompanied by hand signals such as a cyclist placing their left hand on the small of their back, palm facing out.

Gravel

Gravel is particularly problematic for skinny road tires. If there is just a patch of gravel to the side of the road, the riders will likely call out “gravel” and point to the patch, letting everyone know to ride to the other side. If there is no hand motions, that usually means that gravel is strewn across the whole road and extreme caution is advised.

Now you know the most basic phrases used to verbally communicate during a group ride. Get out there and have fun!

If you’d like more information on bicycle safety, or need legal counsel concerning bicycles, please contact us here.


Should You Be Using Bicycle Mirrors?

Friday, December 02, 2016

No matter where you do it, bicycling allows for a lot of freedoms. You can modify your bike and any accessories to make it uniquely yours. However, one of the lesser used bicycle accessories is bike mirrors. These can be attached to your handlebars or poking out from your helmet.

Ideally, these mirrors allow you to see behind you in your blind spots so that you don't need to shoulder check yourself all the time. After all, cars have mirrors for just that purpose, why shouldn't bikes? Unfortunately, bikes and cars are two different vehicles. In a car, no one can see you checking your shoulder so you use mirrors and signals to do it. On a bike, you have your proper hand signals, but the act of looking over your shoulder is a good indicator that you might need to scoot over a bit to avoid a parked car. Mirrors take away the need for that.

However, bike mirrors are not without their benefits. Particularly during night-time driving, the reflective nature of the mirrors make it easier for cars to spot you.

But do you need bicycle mirrors as an accessory? Probably not. They have their uses, but more often than not, they make us forget the crucial shoulder check, and that can be dangerous. This lack of bicycling habits that have been formed for safety can cause terrible accidents. If you have been the victim of a bicycle-related accident on the part of another vehicle, you may have some legal action available to you. Contact us today to find out what options you have.



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