Are Streetcar Tracks an Accident Waiting to Happen for Cyclists?

There has been some controversy coming from the cyclists of Seattle that the streetcar tracks in the city are a “death trap” to city cyclists. Most notably of the story was the death of a young behavioral neuroscientist that was cycling through the city only to be launched from her bike due to the First Hill Streetcar tracks and killed as a result of her injuries.

Unfortunately, her death brought attention to the issue, but she was not the last cyclist injury to be reported from the city. While Seattle’s streetcar tracks are dangerous, they are not the first city to have both cyclists and streets cars. What makes the streetcar tracks in Seattle different from those in San Francisco, for example? The answer is attention to safety. In other cities with both streetcars and a booming cyclist population, the city has paid attention to implementing safety features for those that need to cross over the tracks. It seems this safety issue was an oversight in Seattle.

While cars in the city may be able to safely cross over these tracks, as well as pedestrians with the right amount of care, the gaps in the tracks are too wide for a bicycle to safely span with their thin tires. In most cases, with enough speed, many cyclists who use the bicycle lanes near these tracks can bridge the gap, but the issue comes with their wheels are turned just right amount. In most of the injury and fatality cases, the cyclist had to move to avoid an obstacle and their tire was angled just right to catch in the tracks.

While some cities have protection for cyclists and pedestrians in their streetcar tracks, Seattle cyclist still remain in danger. Have you been hurt while cycling by streetcar tracks, cars, or otherwise? Then contact us today to see what we can do for you.


What is the Most Effective Hi-Vis Wear for Cyclists?

For those who have to, or at least enjoy to cycle at night, then getting through traffic is not such a worry. Instead, your worry is about being seen by all the cars that come up behind you. However, many cyclists have a pretty complicated relationship with hi-res clothing. Not only is it terribly unfashionable, but sometimes it is uncomfortable.

However, while the safest option is to be clad head to toe with reflective clothing, this doesn’t need to be so. In fact, cyclists may instead choose to pick the most effective reflectors. While many think this is the reflective jacket, this actually isn’t the case. In actuality, the most effective reflective piece of clothing isn’t the jacket or the helmet, but the pants.

If you think about it, reflective pants being the most effective piece of reflective clothing makes sense. What you want in a piece of reflective clothing is for it to catch light and alert drivers behind you that you are on the road. While hi-res clothing on torsos or helmets will catch light, reflective pants will catch more. Furthermore, because your legs are constantly moving, it will create a flashing reflection that will attract the eye of the driver and encourage them to give you space.

While hi-res leggings are not often the most stylish in legwear, if you have to go out at night, you should consider them. Bicycling safety is crucial, and being seen at night is the most important safety feature. So which would you rather be, fashionable or safe?

Have you been in a cycling accident and injured as the result of cars not being able to share the road? You shouldn’t have to pay for those injuries out of your own pocket when they were not your fault. If you are an injured cyclist and need representation, contact us today.

Is Bicycle-to-Vehicle Communication the Way of the Future?

Announced at CES, a collaboration by Trek Bicycle, Ford Motor Company, and Tome Software has decided to tackle the rising rate of cyclist fatalities by creating a bicycle-to-vehicle communication system.

There have been great strides in V2V or vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems such as the ability for cars to stop if it senses the other vehicle braking suddenly. However, B2V communication will, obviously, be a little more difficult as the onboard systems of a vehicle are a little different from a bicycle, specifically because a bicycle typically doesn’t have any onboard systems.

This is where Tome Software and Trek Bicycle have aimed to team up. Tome is set to develop the software to communicate with cars and Trek is set to implement it in their newer models. This AI-based software is focused on giving drivers of both vehicles alerts of potentially dangerous conditions such as the cyclist or car intends to turn or is decreasing in speed suddenly.

Initially, this software will roll out with their auto partner, Ford, to make sure that Trek cycles and Ford cars communicate. With any luck, the B2V communication system will grow and become compatible with other vehicle models. However, there still are some kinks to work out.

While this system will likely work very well in more suburban areas where there are only a few cars and a few bicycles, it may not be as viable in urban areas where the cyclist may very well be pinged almost every minute by cars that are perceived as a threat to it. However, the B2V communication system is still in development and hopefully, extensive testing will prevent this issue.

While bicycle-to-vehicle communication still has some issues, it could be a potentially great way to help cyclists and cars safely share the road in the future. Until then, accidents are still going to happen. If you are an injured cyclist and need representation, contact us today.


California’s “Idaho Stop” Bill Enters Pilot Program

The bipartisan bill presented to California that could bring the “Idaho Stop,” or the ability for cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs have received a lot of attention. However, instead of trying to force the bill through or negotiating their way to a yes, for now, the authors have settled on another way to prove it is a good idea – a pilot program.

Now instead of allowing the Idaho Stop to be legal statewide, it will be rolled out in three cities in an effort to record the results and prove to naysayers of the bill that, yes, this is indeed a good idea. The two authors opted to pull the bill before the end of 2017 or risk it being killed altogether, which is where the idea for the pilot program was born.

While the three cities for the pilot program have not yet been announced, the two representatives authoring the bill were from San Francisco and Big Bear, making it likely that their jurisdictions will be chosen for the test. As of right now, many of the naysayers are from California’s bigger jurisdictions, noting that allowing the ability for cyclists to roll through stop signs would cause bedlam. However, this is simply not so, especially since other states have had great success implementing this law. Most recently, Delaware joined the ranks of the Idaho Stop and while it may not have cities quite as large as Los Angeles, for example, its urban thoroughfares have proven to be unchanged and even safer in some cases for both cars and cyclists.

What are your thoughts on the Idaho Stop coming to California? The Law Office of Gary Brustin knows that it might make the cyclist safer, but accidents will still happen. If you have been in an accident in California and need representation, contact us today.

State of Illinois To Allow Motorists to Pass Cyclists

According to the Chicago Tribune, bike laws will be changing in the state of Illinois just in time for the new year. House Bill 1784 goes into effect on January 1, 2018 and will allow a motorist to “overtake and pass to the left of a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on a portion of a highway designated as a no-passing zone.” At first glance, Illinois’ new legislation appears to ignore the safety of bicyclists in favor of reducing travel time for motorists.

However, according to TheXRadio, three circumstances must be present when a motorist can legally pass a cyclist under the new law; “(1) the bicycle is traveling at a speed of less than half of the posted speed limit; (2) the driver is able to overtake and pass the bicycle without exceeding the posted speed limit; and (3) there is sufficient distance to the left of the centerline.”

Additionally, Peoria Public Radio asserts that the new law, also known as P.A 100-0359, “clarifies that cyclists can ride on the shoulder of the road” and drivers must still adhere to Illinois’ current state law requiring motorists to maintain at least three feet between their vehicle and the bicycle when passing.

Extremely low temperatures and slippery road conditions illustrate what the roads of Illinois feel and look like during the Winter. Consequently, only the most avid cyclists who use their bicycle to get to their destination regardless of the weather or road conditions will be testing House Bill 1784 this winter. The majority of cyclists and motorists won’t feel the effects of the changes until March or April when most cyclists pull their bikes out of the garage for the first time this year.

The full consequences of the new law will not be felt until the summer when children and young kids are on break from school ride their bikes in their neighborhoods all day long. If you enjoy riding your bike on the shoulder of the road be extra careful this year. If you have any questions regarding the new law or if you ever find yourself injured contact us!