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Bicycle safety in Boston

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Boston isn't the best city for bicycle safety. The legendary craziness of its drivers mostly results in fender-benders when one car hits another, but for bicyclists the results can be far worse. Lanes are narrow and cars often turn without signaling or block cyclists by double-parking.

In 2015, the situation drew public attention when a tractor-trailer truck killed a visiting Swiss doctor riding at Massachusetts Avenue and Beacon Street, one of the city's busiest intersections. Outright hostility to bicyclists isn't unusual. Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby responded to Dr. Kurmann's death by saying, "If you want to ride a bicycle in Boston, you’ve got plenty of great places to do it. Massachusetts Avenue during business hours shouldn’t be one of them." A group in East Boston petitioned for the removal of all bicycle lanes.

382 bicycle crashes occurred in Boston during the period from 2010 to 2013. These included nine fatalities. Nonetheless, bicycle commuting has grown tremendously in Boston, with commuting tripling from 2005 to 2015. Statewide, bike commuting more than doubled from 2005 to 2012.

Some of the neighboring cities are quite bike-friendly. 8.5% of commuters in Cambridge use bicycles, compared to just 2% in Boston. TheMinuteman Bikeway runs from Bedford to Cambridge, connecting with the MBTA at Alewife Station. At some intersections riders will encounter traffic problems, but work is continuing to improve its safety.

Boston is developing a Bike Network Plan to make streets safer for bicycling and create new bicycle routes. Many businesses in the city are adopting bike-friendly practices. Boston lags behind many other cities in bike-friendliness, but it is making progress.

Want to learn more about your rights and responsibilities as a bicyclist? Please contact us.

Bicycle Laws Need to be Better Understood for Optimal Safety

Friday, April 22, 2016

Bicycle laws are laws that help regulate the actions of bikers and how they can use the roads that are generally used mostly for automobiles. They can also help to regulate how automobile operators interact with bikers. Although these laws are obviously important for anyone who ever rides a bike on the road, or drives a car where bikes can be ridden, they're often overlooked by both drivers and bicyclists.

According to Radio Iowa, only 61 percent of people surveyed in an Iowan town felt that they were comfortable saying they understood bicycling laws. Although that percentage may be higher in other more urban areas, it's rarely near 100 percent. These are laws that we often assume we know, but we might be riding unsafely if we don't check up on them.

Laws can vary from state to state, so it's important that motorists and bicyclists understand the jurisdiction and the law that is enforced in the area that they are in. Bike League offers a long list of available biking laws that vary from state to state.

For instance, in Iowa, there is no dooring (the act of being aware of bikers when opening a car door) law, but there is a strong calling to be aware of dooring in the Iowa driver's manual. Additionally, Iowa does not consider bicycles vehicles.

There is a different law in other states. In Pennsylvania, bicycles are treated as vehicles and have the same road rights and laws (such as being intoxicated while operating) as automobiles.

In most states, vehicles overtaking bicycles have to give three feet of space to the biker.

So, what are the most important laws to know about when it comes to riding in your state? The dooring law is important. Other important laws include helmet laws and sidewalk riding (some states, such as California, do not say yes or no to sidewalk riding). Some states even authorize bicyclists to run red lights if the intersection is not equipped to acknowledge bicycles.

Knowing these laws and how they affect your riding in the state you bicycle in is very important. It can be the difference between having a safe ride or a disastrous one.

If you would like more information on laws for bicyclists, or have been involved in a bicycling accident, contact us today.

Bicycle Accidents: Dooring is Such Painful Sorrow

Thursday, April 14, 2016

A bicyclist is pedaling along alone in the right lane of a city street. Suddenly, he is on the ground, screaming in pain from a twisted back and broken collarbone. There are no moving vehicles other than the bicyclist. What happened?

A motorist opened their door into traffic.

Most bicycle accidents involve a bike and a car. Often, drivers are at fault in accidents that involve right turns or failure to share a lane. "Dooring" is a term used to describe what occurs when a motorist opens their door into traffic without realizing that a bicyclist is present.

Although dooring does not involve a moving car, it can result in severe injuries or even death. According to a study conducted by the City of Chicago, dooring causes between 7% and 20% of all bicycle accidents.

According to the League of American Bicyclists, forty states have laws which specifically make it an offense to open a car door without verifying the absence of traffic. The presence of these laws gives the police a way of documenting that a motorist is at fault in a dooring-related accident. If a motorist causes an accident by opening a door into traffic, they may be financially liable for the harm caused. With the right lawyer, this can be treated in the same manner as if the motorist had caused an accident via a moving violation.

If you have been in a dooring accident or any type of bicycle accident, you probably have medical bills that must be paid and have experienced pain and suffering. If you need help recovering funds, please contact us.

The latest bicycle safety trends

Friday, April 08, 2016

Cycling is a great hobby and a wonderful form of transportation. If you ride on a regular basis, you get a large amount of exercise, and you are protecting the environment. While riding a bicycle is ideal for the environment and your body, it does present some unique risks. A cyclist can fall and harm themselves, and other vehicles present a major injury risk for cyclists. To stay safe, cyclists must keep up with the latest trends. Here are some popular safety trends.

1. Louder bike horns 

Bike horns have always been around, but cities are too loud for traditional bike horns. Modern cities have lots of noise pollution, which drown out your bike horn. Bike horns need to be louder, and new bike horns are reaching higher noise levels. Loud Bicycle is a bike horn that can reach at least 112 decibels, warning people of an incoming bike. This bike horn might save you from a wreck one day.

2. Better lighting

Lighting related gear has dominated the bike safety gear market for years. Reflectors and helmet lights are meant to protect cyclists. Bicyclists need better lighting to avoid night time accidents. See.Sense has developed a bike light that adapts to the light around your bicycle. With this light, cyclists will always have the lighting they need.

3. Better protection

Collisions are always a possibility, so people need the best possible protection. The traditional bike helmet is outdated and offers minimal protection. Hovding is the next generation of the bike helmet. This new helmet goes around your neck. The helmet can detect a collision. Before the accident happens, the Hovding deploys and protects your head from any damage.

Staying safe while you are on a bicycle is critical. With these new safety trends, you will be safer. For more safety tips, contact us now.

When a bicycle meets a driverless car

Friday, April 01, 2016

What happens when a bicyclist encounters a “driverless” car? That’s probably not a big concern now, but as technology continues to evolve, the day may come when cyclists and bicycle law will have to adapt to driverless (or "self-driving") cars.

There’s not much hard data yet, but one anecdote indicates the cyclist might have the upper hand. A rider in Austin, Texas,described his encounter with a driverless car in an online forum. He was waiting at a four-way stop, with a driverless car also at the intersection. The bicyclist was doing a track stand (rocking back and forth to stay upright). The car sensed his small movements and kept starting and stopping.

He wrote, “We repeated this little dance for about 2 full minutes and the car never made it past the middle of the intersection. The two guys inside were laughing and punching stuff into a laptop, I guess trying to modify some code to 'teach' the car something about how to deal with the situation.”

One auto company executive sees bicycles as a particular problem for driverless cars. Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault, said bicycles confuse driverless cars because “from time-to-time they behave like pedestrians and from time-to-time they behave like cars.”

Google, a major force in developing driverless cars, discussed bicycles in a blog post, which includes a video of what happened when one of their test vehicles encountered a bicycle. Google says their cars “treat cyclists as a special category of moving objects.” In the video, the car senses a cyclist’s hand signals and yields to the bicycle.

If and when driverless cars become common, traffic law will have to evolve to accommodate the new technology, just like communications and copyright law evolved with development of the internet. To learn more about current and emerging issues in bicycle law, contact California attorney Gary Brustin.


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