A string of fatal bicycle accidents were recorded in California this year, and December offered no respite. A 65-year-old Woodland Hills resident, who also happens to be a music industry veteran and entertainment lawyer, died this month in an accident involving a patrol car.
Milton Everett Olin Jr was a former chief operating officer of file-sharing website Napster. He was also a very prominent entertainment lawyer, and had been practicing law since 1975. It’s not yet clear how the accident occurred, but it is clear that he was hit by a sheriff’s patrol car. The accident occurred in Calabasas. He was declared dead at the scene of the accident.
Investigations into the accident have begun, but as of now, police do not have any reason to believe that speeding was a factor in this particular accident. Additionally, officers have also ruled out the possibility that drugs and alcohol were associated with this accident.
There is little known about the road conditions in the area where the accident occurred. For instance, it isn’t clear if there was a bike lane in the neighborhood where the accident occurred.
Whatever the circumstances of the accident, the fact is that California has seen an uptick in the number of bicycle accident fatalities that have taken place in 2013. Certain counties like Los Angeles County have been severely affected by a motorist lack of concern for bicycle safety, and the lack of high-quality bicycling infrastructure. For a state, that has one of the most favorable weather conditions for bicyclists, California does not seem to do a lot to help keep bicyclists safer. Bicycle accident investigations drag out, infrastructure plans are too slow to roll out, and overall, there is an assumption that the risk of accidents is part and parcel of the bicycling life.
In 2010, a team of two Swedish researchers announced a new ”invisible bicycle” helmet project that featured an inflatable helmet. The helmet is designed to inflate upon impact as soon as the person is involved in an accident, wrapping and protecting the head in an inflated plastic casing, working just like a helmet to protect him from head injuries.
The helmets have been made available in Europe, and are currently being retailed for €399 apiece. The helmet called the Hovding, and resembles a scarf that the person wears around his neck. This is less of a helmet, and more of an airbag that is designed to protect the head. According to the inventors, the invisible helmet has up to 3 to 4 times more shock absorption capacity, compared to a traditional helmet.
Apart from the unique design, which ensures that people don’t really have to wear a helmet at all, there are other advantages that the researchers believe have been responsible for its success and popularity. For instance, many bicyclists are apprehensive about wearing helmets because these look clunky, and mess up your hairstyle. The style concerns are especially acute among female bicyclists, who are less likely to wear helmets compared to males.
Those problems are solved with a bicycle helmet that does not really have to be worn on the head every time you bike. The bicycle helmet only becomes a helmet at the time of impact, just like an airbag inflates to protect the body from injuries.
Japanese bicyclists will soon be able to purchase the invisible helmets as these will soon launch in that country, and California bicycle safety lawyers hope that the helmets will reach these shores soon. There’s likely to be tremendous demand for these helmets here, because this is a country where helmet use is lagging behind usage rates in European countries because of the style, wearability and convenience factors.
The League of American Bicyclists recently called on its members asking them to drum up support for newly introduced legislation that would enact safety measures to reduce pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities. The bill is called the Bicycle Safety and Prevention Act, and it has been introduced in the house as well as the senate. The bill is targeted at changing the existing transportation law to set up more safety strategies that are targeted at reducing the risk of fatal injuries involving pedestrians and bicyclists.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that there had been an increase in the number of pedestrian bicyclist or non-occupant fatalities In 2012. In fact, the fatalities have been increasing steadily over the past couple of years, even as overall traffic accident fatality numbers have been on the decline. The bill has been sponsored by Representatives Peter DeFazio, Democrat- Oregon, Earl of Blumenauer, Democrat- Oregon, and Michael McCaul, Republican Republican-Texas. In the Senate, the bill is being induced by Senators Kelly Ayotte, Republican-New Hampshire, Jeff Merkley Democrat-Oregon and Brian Schatz Democrat-Hawaii.
The bill is a simple piece of legislation that says that the federal administration should set for itself a goal of reducing bicycling and pedestrian accident fatalities. The bill would require that the Department of Transportation set a target for itself to reduce bicycle fatalities, and work towards reducing these fatalities.
It is not that common to have lawmakers debating legislation that is aimed at helping prevent bicycle accidents. Now that legislation like this has been introduced, bicyclists and bicycle safety groups must rally to support the bill and ensure that it’s passed. While greater awareness of bicyclist rights can help reduce the risk of accidents, it is also important to have laws that protect bicyclists.