Are You Thinking of Biking Out of Town Once Spring 2016 Begins?

Chances are many of you are already thinking about where to go biking this spring. There’s a lot that traditionally goes into planning a trip but trail safety and surviving biking accidents are generally not two of them. However, they most certainly should be on every traveling biker’s mind. The same case may be made for regional cycling laws and bicycle insurance policies because they all have the potential to impact a person’s trip.

With that said, before loading up the bike and setting cross-country, be sure to do your due diligence. Find out what the bicycle laws are in your chosen destination and whether or not the trails are maintained. Remember, not all states have bicycle transportation accounts and bike-pedestrian plans like our state does. So in some distance locations, finding safe, clean trails that are open to visitors may be challenging to say the very least.

Next, take a second to dig out your homeowner’s, renter’s or auto insurance policies and give them the once over. Find out what coverage exists if you are hit while cycling out of the state as well as what would happen if an accident occurs in transit to the trail heads. If you’re not happy with the coverage, update it well before your cycling vacation starts and keep meticulous records of the changes.

And let’s not overlook bicycle theft. Check for that type of coverage too because hotel thefts seem to already be on the rise. Last year’s well- publicized, World Cycling Championship related theft is a prime example of what could happen. Thankfully that story ended well for the cyclist but such incidents don’t always turn out that way.

Finally, keep in mind that if a biking accident does occur, there are California attorneys that may be able to help. To learn more about protecting your rights no matter where your bicycle wheels may roam, please contact us today. As ardent cyclists and lawyers, we’re in a unique position to provide advice.

Bicycle Laws Regarding Helmets

Many medical and other professionals agree that wearing a helmet prevents or reduces serious head injury to riders who have collisions. Surprisingly, no state bicycle law requires adult cyclists to wear a helmet, and only 22 require younger cyclists to wear them, usually up to age 16. By contrast, 47 states have motorcycle helmet laws, and 19 of them have universal helmet laws – that is, they require all motorcyclists of all ages to wear a helmet.

Localities sometimes impose stricter helmet requirements than the state bicycle law. For example, Alaska has no state helmet law at all, but cyclists under age 18 in Juneau, Bethel, and Sitka must wear a helmet, and those under 16 must wear helmets in Anchorage and Kenai. New York requires all riders to wear helmets up to age 14, but several counties and localities have higher age limits; in addition, Rockland County and Greenburgh have universal helmet laws, as do all parks in Erie County. Enforcement activity generally consists of issuing warnings, but some jurisdictions provide for fines on subsequent violations. California, for instance, dismisses the charge if it’s a first offense, but afterwards, violators are subject to a fine of up to $25.

From a legal perspective, wearing a helmet where it’s legally required is a wise course of action. This is because the law considers a bicyclist negligent who violates a helmet law, and thus at least partially responsible for any head injury sustained. Whether the cyclist can recover any compensation at all for medical or other costs is then dependent upon the state’s rules on shared fault. Some states, including California, New York, and Florida, observe a doctrine called “pure comparative negligence,” and accident victims can recover some compensation no matter how negligent they were. Some other states observe a modified version of comparative negligence, which limits a victim’s compensation if the level of negligence exceeds a certain threshold. A few states, including Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, DC, observe the doctrine of contributory negligence, which denies any compensation to a victim whose negligence, no matter how slight, contributed to the accident.

Of course, the best way cyclists can avoid these kind of problems is simply to wear a helmet when cycling, regardless of age. Those who suffer injuries while cycling, whatever the circumstances, should protect their rights by consulting with an attorney who’s proficient in representing accident victims in bicycle cases.

Animal Collisions: Beware of Fauna and Fowl When You Are On Your Bike

A quick Google search of bicycle-animal encounters suggests that more than 10% of all cyclist accidents are caused by collisions with animals or other objects. In a more extreme example, a cyclist in a Chicago suburb was recently hospitalized after colliding with a goose. In that case, the hospitalized cyclist was riding with a group when a goose took flight out of a retaining pond that the group was riding past. The goose flew directly into the lead cyclist, causing him and the rider immediately behind him to crash. Geese are large animals, often weighing 15 to 20 pounds. A bicycle impact with that large an animal is the equivalent of colliding with a large Thanksgiving turkey.

If you have collided with an animal while driving your car, you know that animal collisions can be difficult to avoid. You can take a few common sense precautions to minimize animal collisions when you are on your bicycle.

First, remain aware of animal risks. If you are riding in a forested or rural area, you are more likely to encounter a wandering animal. Scan the road well ahead of you and watch for signs of animals on shoulders and in tall grass next to the road.

Next, if you are riding in a group through an area that has a large wild animal population, avoid the urge to form a tight group peloton. Spread yourselves out to give riders that are in a rear an opportunity to stop or swerve around a cyclist who might be unfortunate enough to hit an animal.

Cyclists are generally aware of the risks of domestic animals, particularly aggressive dogs. Those dogs are just protecting their turfs. In less populated areas, dogs may not be familiar with bicycles and will perceive them to be a threat to their turf. When you see a dog, ride cautiously and quickly past the dog’s property. If the dog pursues you or your group, shout loudly at it to scare it off. If it continues to pursue you, dismount, position your bicycle between yourself and the dog, and spray some water from your water bottle at the dog. Do not use mace or pepper spray, as most of those sprays have a limited range and the dog will probably not be close enough to you for the spray to have any effect. You are more likely to have the spray dissipate into the faces of your riding partners than on the dog.

If you have an animal collision in spite of these precautions, treat the situation as you would any other accident. Assess your damages and injuries and contact emergency responders if the injuries are severe. If the animal is injured, do not approach it, but leave that task to the emergency responders as well.

Your own insurance will likely be the main source of funds to pay your medical expenses if you are injured in an animal-bicycle collision. If you believe that another party was responsible for causing the collision, or if you are having any trouble with your insurance company, please contact us for a free consultation on your case. We represent bicycle riders exclusively, and we understand the challenges and risks that cyclists face every time they head out for their rides.

Lights Also Important in Daytime to Avoid Bicycle Accidents

As a cyclist, it’s easy to overlook the significance of being highly visible in daylight. However, that’s when most fatal bicycle accidents occur, according to the National Traffic Highway Administration, so daytime bicycle lights are an important safety feature. In fact, one group, Cycling PEI of Prince Edward Island, is pushing to make daytime running lights for cyclists mandatory, according to CBC News.

Cyclists who use busy streets, especially highways, are often at risk of being struck from behind, whether in a traffic lane or shoulder. In an era when motorists are constantly distracted by their mobile devices, cyclists need to create bigger distractions. Bright, erratically flashing lights help achieve that goal. Some daytime bicycle lights recently on the market are visible from more than a mile away, comparable with flashing lights on emergency vehicles.

Many bicycle shops carry a variety of head and tail lights that range in price and quality. The brightness, or lumens, will vary, of course. The cheapest options are often lights that are barely visible in dark conditions — often referred to as “be seen” lights — so it’s critical to select bright, quality lights specifically designed for daytime visibility.

Today, many USB-rechargeable head and tail lights provide excellent daytime visibility. Some offer hours of powerful illumination, different flashing and steady modes and are visible from more than a mile away in daylight. What’s more: Most of these lights don’t take long to recharge, roughly an hour. Of course, any of these daytime lights are a great option for nighttime riding, as well. Going a step further, some tail lights double as HD cameras. During an accident these devices record the last few seconds of a cyclist’s crash, which can help when disputing a claim or solving a hit and run.

Please contact us for more information about what to do if you have been in a daytime cycling accident.