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Bicycle Safety Needs to Go Beyond Dedicated Lane Legislation and Rebates

Thursday, May 26, 2016

As the California Bicycle Coalition works hard to establish a statewide rebate program for commuters, others are fighting to get more bike lanes in place. Over the years, both efforts have been stymied due to a variety of reasons. However, people concerned for bicycle safety are starting to feel hopeful. Signs of headway being made on both fronts are behind their new-found elation. But will all of the recent movement turn out to be enough?

Sadly, we think not. Having more dedicated lanes will certainly help matters as will financial incentives for people to buy new bikes. Unfortunately, those efforts won’t stop shoddy manufacturing practices and poor driving. For example, many lobbyists would like to see environmentally safe lanes being used by eco-friendly, e-bikes. That’s great but what about e-bike and cycling helmet recalls?

They are still occurring. As far as e-bikes are concerned, there have been notable problems with batteries. In some cases, the batteries posed fire or acid burn risks. In additional cases, e-bikes were found to have different problems, like defective forks and seats. Plus, other types of bicycles and biking accessories are being recalled too. Some of the most recent recalls were for a series of standard bikes with defective frames, wheels and quick releases.

Although different, all of the bicycle recalls had the potential to send cyclists in to the path of oncoming traffic. So for riders using those defective products, any protection afforded by the designated bike lanes could be lost. The same could be said for riders who are struck by inexperienced or distracted motorists.

And we haven’t talked yet about accidents that occur in areas where there are no bicycle lanes or poorly maintained ones. They are issues that need to be looked at seriously by bicycle safety experts too. To learn more about what’s going on with bicycle safety related legislation and how lawyers may help injured riders, please contact us today.

What to Do If Involved in a Cycling Accident

Friday, May 20, 2016

Bicycle Accidents have grown in number over the past few years, as more people are choosing this as a method to commute. If you are riding a bicycle and have an accident with a vehicle, the actions you take at the accident scene and immediately after the crash is critical. The actions you take after the accident has occurred can have a significant impact on the extent you can recover from your injuries and the damage to your bicycle.

The first thing you should do is call the police. You should wait at the accident scene so the police can take and file a police report. This is a crucial step to take, even if you do not believe you have been injured. Many cyclists do not realize they have been injured until several hours after the accident took place. Even minor injuries can later develop into serious long-term problems.

You should also make sure you get your version of the events into the accident report. Many times, the police will take a statement from the driver of the vehicle and not even bother to discuss the accident with the cyclist. When giving your report, make sure to indicate all injuries sustained, no matter how major or minor.

One of the best things you can do if you are the victim of a bicycle accident is to seek professional advice. Many bike related accidents involve complex issues that require the help of a professional. It is wise to consult a personal injury attorney who has a good understanding of bike accident cases.

If you have been the victim of a bicycle accident and would like to speak with a plaintiff attorney, contact us to schedule an appointment or consultation.

Bicycle Laws: Where are We with the Idaho Stop?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

In January, Mayor Ed Lee vetoed an ordinance passed by the Board of Supervisors that would have discouraged San Francisco police from ticketing bicyclists who roll stop signs.

The ordinance proposed by Supervisor John Avalos would not have made the so-called "Idaho stop" legal, but would have relegated the infraction to the lowest enforcement priority for police.

In his veto message, the mayor said he did not want to "trade safety for convenience," saying the rolling stop, "while expedient for some cyclists, directly endangers pedestrians and other cyclists."

Though the mayor's letter did not suggest the practice endangered the cyclist himself or herself, nor motorists, Police Chief Greg Suhr had opposed the ordinance citing crash statistics showing cyclists at fault in nearly half of reported collisions in the first nine months of 2015. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC) countered that these data did not indicate what were the circumstances leading up to these crashes.

The enforcement issue had become intensely controversial following a police crackdown last summer on bicyclists rolling stop signs along "The Wiggle." Activists staged a "stop in," in which participants came to a full stop at each intersection, placing a foot on the ground, to illustrate that rigid adherence to the letter of the law snarled traffic and actually made things less safe for all road users.

California state law treats bicyclists as motorists for purposes of most road safety rules. But as the SFBC points out, there are reasons why not coming to a full stop at a regulated intersection is actually safer in many instances.

Unless a motorist -- or another cyclist, or a pedestrian -- is arriving at the same intersection simultaneously with you, or where there is a steady red light, the law requires you to stop only in the sense that your wheels stop moving momentarily.

It will usually not be necessary to clip out and put a foot on the ground, but if there is other traffic at the intersection, this is a very efficient way to communicate to the cross traffic or the oncoming left that you are declining to accept the offer to yield their right of way.

The point is that everything works more smoothly if people behave in a predictable manner, and according to established rules.

Even the Idaho "rolling stop" law requires a cyclist to assess whether someone else who is approaching the intersection has right of way and whether the cyclist would create a dangerous situation by entering the intersection.

Bottom line, be alert and sensible out there. And if you do get into trouble, remember we are here to help.


What to do When Bicycle Accidents Occur

Thursday, May 05, 2016

As the number of leisure and commuter bicyclists increases, bicycle accidents are also occurring at alarming rates. While some of these accidents result in only minor injuries, many are serious, life-altering occurrences. When an accident occurs, and the bicyclist is able, certain steps can help assure the bicyclist receives due compensation for his or her injuries and losses.

Seek Medical Attention First

Even in cases when the bicyclist does not feel that he or she has sustained a serious injury, it is advisable that he or she seek the attention of a trained medical professional as soon as possible after the accident. Some injuries do not reveal themselves until well after they are sustained. A physician is the best person to determine whether or not it is safe to resume normal activities without exacerbating an injury.

Documentation

To avoid discrepancies that can occur in the recounting of events leading up to an accident, it is important to provide as much documentation as possible to substantiate the bicyclist's position. As soon as possible, the bicyclist should write about any pertinent information about when and where the accident took place. If there are witnesses, their names and contact information should be collected, as well as the names and contact information for any individuals who were directly involved in the accident.

Immediately after an accident, a cell phone with a camera can be the bicyclist's best friend. Should the case go to court, it is useful to have pictures of the accident site, as well as photos of any damages to the bicycle itself and any equipment, such as a helmet. If there are cuts or bruises on the body that can be photographed at the scene of the accident, these can also come in handy for documentation purposes.

A police report is another crucial piece of documentation to obtain as soon as possible after a bike accident. However, a more important reason to telephone the police after the occurrence, is because police officers know how to administer emergency medical attention and can help alert any other services, such as those of an ambulance or paramedics, quickly and efficiently, as needed.

Filing a police report is common practice after a bicycle accident. The bicyclist should also request a copy of the report for his or her own records. The clothing worn during the accident and the helmet worn by the bicyclist can sometimes be used as evidence. It is also important to retain receipts for any repairs necessary, or for any accessories that are lost or damaged as a result of the accident.

Insurance Companies

When a bicyclist is injured by a motor vehicle, it is not uncommon for this person to be contacted by the insurance company of the driver. It is important that the injured party not make general statements about the accident, and that he or she avoid expressing opinions about who was at fault.

The injured party should obtain the name, address and phone number of the company, as well as the claim number. It is also fine to ask for information about the limits of the insurance company's medical coverage. However, discussions about settlements should be avoided. This discussion should only take place between the bicyclist and a licensed professional attorney.

If you have sustained an injury in a bicycle accident and would like to speak with a professional plaintiff attorney who specializes in handling bike injury cases, please contact us at your earliest convenience to set up an appointment for a consultation.


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