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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.

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.

The 4 Rules of Safe City Biking

Friday, November 18, 2016

Bicycle safety is pretty basic when there aren't too many cars around. However, when you take your bicycle into even a moderate-sized city, the rules change. Cars still rule the road there, and you need to know how to handle them safely because you better believe most cars don't know how to handle a cyclist on the road. To keep you safe on city roads, here are a few rules to follow.

Give Every Parked Car Its Door Zone

Even if it looks like it has been parked for hours, that door could still swing open just as you are cruising by. When cycling by parked cars, be sure to give each and every one its door zone. The habit will save you a nasty bike accident one day.

Follow Vehicle Rules

You may not have a motor under you, but there are some traffic laws that bicycles need to follow too. This includes stopping at red lights, pausing at stop signs, and still giving pedestrians on crosswalks the right of way. By following these rules, it takes a lot of thinking out of the equation, makes things safer for all parties, and, well, it's the law!

Watch for the Left Cross and Right Cross

These are the two most common accident zones at an intersection and you need to know how to deal with them. The Right Cross happens at an intersection where you are going straight, but a car is turning right without waiting for you. Be prepared to look behind you to check for cars turning right as you can be assured they won't be paying you any attention.

The Left Cross is in a similar situation where the car across the way is going to turn left when you are going straight. You have the right away, but motorists don't see you as a car.

No Lights at Night, No Ride

Cities may be brighter than country roads, but not every motorist will be able to see your bike at night without lights. If you don't have lights on your bike, you might just want to take a cab.

Even if you follow these rules, accidents happen. If you have been the victim of a cycling accident, the Law Offices of Gary Bustin may be able to help you. Contact us today.

New Bicycle Laws Give Cyclists Better Elevator Access

Friday, November 11, 2016

Three new bicycling laws were passed in New York last week that aimed at giving cycling commuters better access throughout the city's many buildings. The three laws are aimed at the access of bicycles in office and residential buildings where they once may have been barred. Previously, business owners could bar bicycles being brought into elevators, but no more.

The Bicycle Access Law gives cyclists the right to bring their bikes into the office via the elevator, something that was passed after city cyclists complained of a lack of safe places to store their bicycles on the street. The second law allows both visitors and residents of residential apartment buildings to bring their bicycles up in passenger elevators, another situation that was left open to the whims of the building landlords. The third law allowed bicycles to use freight elevators in a building to bring their bicycle up if no better option is available.

These three laws were passed in a better effort to encourage commuter cycling. Previously, many would be cyclists passed cycling to work as they had nowhere to store it during the day. Now cyclists are allowed to bring their bike to work, further encouraging this body healthy and environmentally healthy way of getting around.

While elevator use is typically not as strict in smaller cities, these laws now set a good precedent for other metropolitan cities, and hopefully one they will take notice of. If you want to want to stay up-to-date of great new bicycling laws around the country, contact us today.

What to Do When Even the Police Don't Know Bicycle Laws

Thursday, October 20, 2016

We may tell ourselves that bicycle culture is growing each and every day, but the honest truth is that the majority of non-cyclists have literally no idea what to do when sharing the road with a bicycle, much less what cyclists are supposed to do. However, what happens when not even police officers are familiar with the laws for cyclists? One cyclist in Oviedo, Florida found out the hard way after capturing an exchange between a police officer and himself on his helmet camera.

In the video, the officer asked cyclist Jon Holmes to move out of the lane onto the sidewalk, which is not state statute. The cyclist then countered with the correct law that stated that cyclists can use the lane if it is too narrow for cars to pass safely. After some more back and forth, the officer finally leaves. However, while it ended rather peacefully, it does show a major problem with cycling laws - not even police officers know what they are.

The officer was just trying to make sure Jon Holmes was safe, but when you have ridden the equivalent of 12,000 miles, you tend to be pretty knowledgeable of how to follow the law. Unfortunately, that doesn't always mean you are safe.

While Holmes got off easy, there are plenty of cyclists that have received tickets and other punishments for arguing with officers over what is or isn't the law around those parts. For cyclists that have gotten tickets for following the law, you may have legal recourse available to you. Contact us today.

Yet Again, Tragedy Proceeds Bicycle Law Reform

Friday, September 30, 2016

In Illinois, the state laws insist that cyclists have the same rights as automobile drivers. However, a fatality and a tossed traffic ticket proves how utterly wrong that is, but for long as Illinois joins other states prompted to sure up their cycling safety laws after a poorly handled bicycle accident.

In October 2015, army veteran 68-year-old Dennis Jurs was biking in Kane County when he collided with a vehicle. The accident happened at an intersection where north and southbound traffic had stop signs, but east and westbound traffic did not have to stop. Jurs was travelling eastbound, but a northbound driver failed to yield and collided with him.

While Jurs passed away, his family still sought justice, but the court case was thrown out after conflicting Illinois laws showed just how unbalanced the rights of cyclists are to automobiles. The driver in question would also later have his sole punishment, a simple traffic ticket, thrown out as well.

However, while the driver may have gotten off, the state did not. This accident has forced them to change c cycling laws with House Bill 5912 that specifically states that all cyclists on the highway are entitled to the same rights as automobiles, effectively making it so that careless drivers will no longer be able to get off without appropriate punishment. While many state officials were willing to let this incident slide off the radar, it was only thanks to a few politicians, all avid bikers themselves, and the family of Jurs whose persistence saw the law reformed.

Are you the victim of a cycling accident due to unclear or non-existent laws for cyclists? Contact us today to see what legal action you may be entitled to.

Cycling While Intoxicated - Is It Illegal?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Say you have had a few rounds with your friends and it is time to go home. You know absolutely where you stand if you get behind the wheel of a car when you are above the legal limit, but what about your bike? Sure, watching drunk cyclists may be funny on YouTube, but it is just as dangerous as driving under the influence, but could it be just as illegal?

Yes and no.

The state laws and courts in the United States are actually pretty split on the subject of drunk biking. While cycling under the influence is typically not as deadly to others, it is dangerous to your own person and the property of others. Some laws acknowledge this and have laws against cycling under the influence to protect yourself while other states have a more laissez faire attitude considering the nature of a bicycle.

When considering cycling while drunk, even if you do not know your state's stance, keep in mind that state's with larger metropolises like Chicago, Los Angeles, or New York are likely to have laws against it while more rural areas are likely just to let it slide.

If caught by police in one of these more populous areas, you put yourself at risk of a DUI as well as a hefty fine. If you do happen to get into a cycling accident while intoxicated, depending on the severity of the accident, you may be at risk for a civil lawsuit and even a Class F felony charge if anyone else is injured due to your intoxication.

So the moral of the story is that even if you are riding a bike, it is still illegal to do it if you are intoxicated. If you have been in an accident that was the fault of a drunk cyclist, contact us today to see if your state's laws merit legal action.

Harassment Forcing Women to Be Less Obedient of Cycling Laws

Friday, September 09, 2016

Philadelphia has an abundant population of cyclists, but it stands out from the pack by having one of the largest female cycling communities - about 32 percent compared to the national 24 percent average. Unfortunately, with a larger female cycling community comes a larger amount of incidents involving cat calls and harassment, and it is forcing these women to break the law out of fear.

A voice for these women, who talked with a local Philadelphia newspaper, is Leigh Goldenberg. She was a model cyclist, stopping at red lights and cautiously rolling through stop signs like everyone should. Even after getting pregnant, so continued to cycle, slapping a baby on board sign to remind drivers to be cautious too. That's when the harassment started. She can cite hundreds of incidents of drivers laying on their horns or shouting that she deserves to be hit for biking when pregnant. Even after giving birth and cycling her baby around in a cargo seat, the harassment continued. Now she, like many other women, are running red lights just to get away or to get a head start on their abusers.

However, it is not just pregnant women getting abused by drivers, it is all women. Several other cyclists state that they feel safe running through an empty intersection than coming to a stop and waiting for their attackers to roll up. After all, a cyclist taking off from a dead stop is much less efficient than a car doing the same thing.

While cycling laws have done wonders for the protection of cyclists, the fear still remains and it is this fear over taking caution that leads to horrific cycling accidents. If you have been the victim of abuse that led to a cycling accident, contact us today to see if you are entitled to legal action.



Northern California Office

Law Offices of Gary C. Brustin, APC
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We handle cases throughout California, including the cities of:  

Silicon Valley, San Jose, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, San Francisco, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, San Mateo, Menlo Park, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Orange County and San Diego. We also have a network of qualified cycling attorneys throughout the country for clients who are seeking representation outside of California.