Category Archives: Bicycle commuting

After Son’s Bike Crash, Father Gears Up Fight For Safer Streets For Cyclists, Pedestrians In Ithaca

Armin Heurich with some of his yield signs.

Armin Heurich with some of his yield signs.

Armin Heurich of Ithaca, the president of the Finger Lakes Cycling Club, has written an excellent guest blog post about his long battle for bicycle and pedestrian safety in Ithaca, a big issue in a progressive – but unsafe – city. The turning point in his struggle for safer streets is very personal ….

Why is a state traffic law almost completely ignored and unenforced in some cities, and almost universally respected in others?

I’ve been pondering this question for many years now in Ithaca, N.Y., where I have lived since 1997. Section 1151a of the New York State Traffic Law states that: “[w]hen traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk on the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, except that any pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overpass has been provided shall yield the right of way to all vehicles.”

Most states in the U.S. have similar laws in the books. Most of us have visited a city or town where we can step foot in a crosswalk where there is no traffic light and marvel as all oncoming vehicles travelling in both directions respectfully come to a complete stop.

I have visited many cities in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Washington, Oregon and California where one can safely assume that motorists will indeed yield. Yet in Ithaca and so many other cities and towns across the country, casually stepping into a crosswalk at an intersection with no traffic light involves putting your life at risk. When a vehicle does finally slow down, you can’t count on vehicles travelling in the other direction to follow suit, since all bets are off.

I am decidedly an urban dweller. When I was hired for a job as a librarian at Ithaca High School, my wife and I initially considered living in the lovely countryside, since we love all forms of outdoor adventure from cycling and hiking to cross-country skiing. Ultimately, we decided to live in the heart of the downtown Northside neighborhood, since it allowed us to bike or walk to work.

Cycling and walking are my primary means of transit both for business and pleasure, and we are only a mile away from some beautiful county roads that are very welcoming to cyclists, so living in the city was a great choice for us. It’s hard to imagine a better place for cycling, if you love the challenge of hills and appreciate breathtaking terrain. My direct bike commute is actually too short, so I typically add some hills and extra distance for a good morning workout.

While the county roads are mostly quiet and safe, with lots of low-traffic options, the same cannot be said for the city streets of Ithaca. Our small city is criss-crossed by state highways running east/west and north/south, including routes 79, 96 and 13.

These highways turn into mostly one-way city streets with a steady high volume of traffic, especially during business hours. Many motorists seem to be impatient and annoyed while driving through the city to their final destination. Ithaca is a waypoint to many, and pedestrians and cyclists are just another impediment along their way. Only one example of the challenges facing pedestrians is Seneca Street, which is Route 79 as it continues east through the city.

Try crossing Seneca Street at the Geneva Street intersection, and you are in for a rude awakening. There is a stop sign on Geneva Street, and there is no sign reminding motorists of the state law requiring them to yield to pedestrians. In fact, there is a dearth of such signs anywhere in the city. I have waited upwards of five minutes at that intersection waiting to cross, even with two feet in the crosswalk as I attempt to make eye contact with motorists. Of course, cyclists face the same exact challenges as they attempt to brave the crossing.

For many years, I have been asking mayors, members of Ithaca’s Common Council and the city engineers for more signs to no avail. I also ask why we have such an unfriendly pedestrian and cycling culture compared to many other municipalities, when we take such pride in being a caring and progressive-minded community. The best answer I get is that it is a cultural thing and a mystery that might not ever get resolved. I have attended Common Council meetings, Board of Public Works meetings, and open houses in which specific infrastructure projects are shared for public feedback. I keep asking the same questions, and get unsatisfying answers. I usually end up feeling ignored or sidelined, even though I have carefully chosen my words and present my perspective in a polite and thoughtful manner.

This summer, our family enjoyed a trip of a lifetime, which involved cycling and walking through many great European cities, including Copenhagen and Amsterdam, two of the most cycling- and pedestrian-friendly cities. We marveled at the infrastructure and the feeling of safety for cyclists of all ages and skill levels. We biked every day and logged nearly 100 miles of urban cycling in our week of sightseeing in those two cities. I took endless mental notes about how the cities were completely transformed through seamless infrastructure, and looked forward to sharing insights with friends and community members.

Then, a week after our return, my 16-year-old son was hit by a car while cycling in Ithaca. He stopped at a four-way, then continued on his way north on Albany Street until he was struck by a motorist heading west on North Titus Street.

The driver ran the stop sign and claims not to have seen Toby, who has struck hard in the ribcage. Toby rolled onto the hood of the car, causing some noticeable damage to the bodywork, then rolled onto the pavement after the motorist came to an abrupt stop. He spent seven days at Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse with a fractured rib and a collapsed lung, but was very lucky, since he did not concuss.

While I was sitting at his bedside during his painful convalescence, I became increasingly frustrated about Ithaca’s unfriendly streets. I felt like I failed him as well as the membership of the Finger Lakes Cycling Club by not being a more decisive advocate for bicycle and pedestrian safety. It was time for action. I thought up a renegade action that would likely start a community conversation about this issue; I got to work on social media and touched base with my local copy shop about the logistics of printing signs on rigid plastic.

My plan was to print the official state sign that states, “State Law: Yield to Pedestrians in Crosswalks” on rigid plastic, the kind used on political yard signs. I would make as many as I could, then assemble a team of like-minded friends in the community to zip tie the signs at dangerous intersections. The signs would have to be installed in a convincing manner, so as to fit right in with existing signs and not obstruct the view of motorists.

First, I contacted an Ithaca printer and emailed the graphic file for my prototype signs. Then I started a GoFundMe account and set a goal of $500 to cover the expense of sign production. Finally, I took to Facebook and shared a few posts about this idea on my wall, along with a link to my fundraising site. I have a good number of Facebook friends, many of whom live in and around Ithaca, but I was unprepared for the staggering response. In just three days I had raised over $400, and after a week I had surpassed my goal by nearly $100.

Meanwhile an Ithaca-based journalist named Mark Anbinder read about my project and interviewed me for an article that was to appear on 14850.com. Also I heard from many others in the Ithaca area who had accidents or near misses, including Ithaca Alderman Ducson Nguyen, who was hit by a car while cycling a month before Toby’s accident. The collective sense of frustration with the status quo and the encouraging words about the project kept me motivated.

I ended up getting about 50 signs printed, and with the help of friends, managed to get the signs placed on the most dangerous intersections by mid-August.

The community reaction was immediate. I was having conversations with neighbors and friends daily, and the overwhelming consensus was that the signs were making a difference. Drivers were more likely to yield to pedestrians in some of the most troublesome intersections. Local citizens and members of Common Council were urging the Board of Public Works and the city traffic engineer to install permanent signs and do more to get motorists to comply with state law. Residents were discussing the issue regularly on online forums, and the support for increased signage and enforcement was overwhelming.

About the time that I gave up on seeing Mark’s article on 14850.com, he published his piece, which was timed to appear during the first week of school

Mark’s excellent article raised much greater awareness about my campaign, and increased pressure on city leaders to take action.

I received a warning email from the supervisor of public works that my signs were out of compliance with state DOT regulations, and that they would be removed. While I fully anticipated this eventual action by the city, I was hoping that the signs would last much longer. My dream was that they would be systematically replaced by permanent ones, but that was not the case.

IMG_20170815_111408848_HDRHowever I am more hopeful and optimistic now than ever before. I have heard that the BPW has agreed that more signage is necessary, and that it will be installed in a reasonably short order. The question about increased enforcement keeps coming up as well, and the city is looking at possible solutions to address this problem.

After my temporary signs came down, I circulated an online survey, asking respondents to reflect on the impact of signs, the process of requesting safety signage, and to suggest intersections that need increased signage and enforcement. My next step is to summarize the survey results from nearly 50 residents and present it to the mayor, Common Council, city engineers and the BPW.

If you are feeling helpless about the pedestrian and cycling safety concerns in your community, I hope that my story gives you hope and possible strategies for being a catalyst for change. While Ithaca has a long way to go, I believe that the emotional energy invested in this project has already paid off. Ultimately, my goal is to change the culture of our city with regard to respect for non-motorized transportation, even while our downtown experiences unprecedented growth.

Please feel free to contact Armin at [email protected] if you have suggestions on or questions about his initiative.  

Armin Heurich is the president of the Finger Lakes Cycling Club and the faculty adviser of the Ithaca High School Cycling Club, where he works as a school librarian.

Downstate Reporter Urges Better Safe Passing Law For Bicyclists

bicycle_commuters

The Journal News, a downstate newspaper that serves Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam counties, recently featured a story about bicycling accidents and deaths downstate, written by David McKay Wilson, a reporter, bicycling advocate and former board member for the Westchester Cycle Club. My hope is this story will help win over hearts and minds downstate about the importance of making our roads safer statewide for bicyclists! Albany, are you listening? It’s time to improve the state’s vague safe passing law!

David recently toured accident sites in the Lower Hudson Valley where bicyclists were killed and checked on cases involving motorists facing changes in bicyclists deaths downstate. What he found was the disposition of cases involving cyclists’ deaths varied dramatically.

David called me for comment and I had this to say in the story:

Attorney Jim Reed of the Ziff Law Firm in Elmira, who represents cyclists injured on the road, said the disposition of cases depends on several factors: the aggressiveness of the police investigation and local prosecutors, as well as the existence of aggravating factors, such as drug or alcohol use by the driver.

“If there’s an aggravating factor, the prosecutor has more power to bring the hammer down,” said Reed, who also serves as president of the New York Bicycling Coalition, a statewide advocacy group. “If not, there are large deficiencies in New York’s law.”

Public outcry also has impact as well.

“If you are not a squeaky wheel, the police are moving on to their next collision or drug bust,” Reed said. “Having local advocates raise hell can help.”

David’s story makes some key points worth noting here:

  • There are more bike commuters downstate. NYC bicyclists are crossing the George Washington Bridge and riding north to Rockland County while more bike commuters are also going to work locally or riding to Metro-North train stations, destined for the city.
  • Bicycle commuting is on the rise nationally, growing by more than 62 percent from 2000 to 2013, according to the League of American Bicyclists.
  • In 2014, according to the state, 47 cyclists were killed statewide and 5,694 were injured. Nationally, 720 bicyclists were killed, up 4 percent from the year before, according to the Insurance Institute for National Highway Safety.
  • Among New York’s 47 fatalities, 11 resulted from drivers failing to grant the right-of-way to cyclists while nine were caused by driver inattention or distraction. Cyclist error was the contributing factor in 19 of the fatalities, according to the state report. In addition, 19 of the fatalities occurred at night – between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

David also wrote the following about the statewide drive for a better safe passing law, something I have lobbied for in Albany as the president of the NYBC:

Efforts in Albany in 2016 to strengthen New York’s Safe Passing Law, which cycling advocates say will give prosecutors stronger tools to enforce road sharing, failed to come for a vote in the state Assembly. The current law, which was passed in 2010, requires that motorists pass at a safe distance. The bill would require that motorists pass cyclists by at least three feet.

It passed in the Senate but failed to emerge from the Assembly Transportation Committee, chaired by Assemblyman David Gantt, D-Rochester. A phone message to Gantt’s office was not returned.

Thanks for reading,

Jim

James B. Reed
NY & PA Bike Crash Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

 

 

 

Are You Traveling To A Big City? New Study Shows City Bike Shares Are Very Safe

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The next time you’re in a big city with a bike-sharing program, and you’re worried about riding a shared bike on unfamiliar busy streets, remember a new study out that reports that bike sharing, which has seen rapid growth in the last 10  years, has not led to a death of any cyclists yet.

Using the metropolitan bike shares (like Citi Bikes in NYC or Hubway Bikes in Boston) is safe and fun! While many critics worried that city bike shares would be dangerous, the actual evidence from millions of rides from across the U.S, is that bike shares are very safe.

Bicycle safety experts have long known that the single biggest factor to increased bike safety is an increased number of bikes on the road because motorists become more aware of the presence of bikes, and bike sharing in cities once again proves that point.

bike_share1_750 foto 2Researchers found that bike-share riders tend to get into far fewer crashes than other cyclists, according to a report from the Mineta Transportation Institute, which looked at data from bike-share systems in Washington, D,C., San Francisco, and Minneapolis.

A Vox story on the report has some great links worth checking out, too.

Here is a summary of the study ….

Remember these numbers:

  1. Bike-sharing systems are in more than 90 cities and riders have taken more than 35 million trips.
  2. No deaths reported in bike sharing, while the overall estimated cycling fatality rate is 21 deaths per 100 million trips.

Among the study’s conclusions:

  • Design matters. Bike-share bikes are heavier and have wider tires, so they are built for rough use and potholes, a big source of accidents for cyclists.
  • The bikes have fewer gears, so riders can’t go very fast.
  • Their drum brakes perform better when it’s wet.
  • They are usually painted bright colors and feature flashing lights, so they are easier for drivers and others to see them.
  • Drivers are more alert and usually drive slower in congested city downtowns, so they are less likely to hit bicyclists.
  • Bike-sharing often attracts new and inexperienced riders, who are more likely to be cautious and alert.
  • Bike-sharing riders use helmets less than other riders. Some say drivers are more careful around cyclists without helmets.  With that said, I want to be clear that I ALWAYS recommend that everyone wear a helmet because helmets certainly do help in some situations and helmet-use sets a good example for children who are legally required to wear a helmet.

I recommend reading the full report.

Have you ever used a bike share? If you have, what do you think of the study’s conclusions? What was your experience like? Please share your comments below!

Thanks for reading,

Jim

James B. Reed
NY & PA Bike Crash Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

 

What To Do If Your Bike Is Stolen! Try Rejjee … And Other Advice From A Veteran Bicycle Law Lawyer

bike lock 4-4

There is nothing worse than having your beloved bicycle stolen.

If it is stolen, you want to do everything in your power to get it back. Have you registered your bike?

NYBC logoIf you haven’t already done it, go to Rejjee’s website or its mobile app and discover the smart and FREE way to manage all of your valuables. Rejjee has been selected by the New York Bicycling Coalition (NYBC), a state advocacy group for bicyclists (I am the president of the NYBC board), to be the group’s official bicycle registry to help reduce bike theft and increase the recovery of stolen bikes.

RejjeePlease take a moment to register your bike there now using the code NYBC and $3 will be donated to help NYBC’s mission – making New York State a safer, more accessible, and enjoyable state to ride your bike in.

Rejjee allows people to register an unlimited number of valuables, and it includes a real-time loss/theft reporting tool. The platform also includes a neighborhood lost and found!

Founded in 2014, Rejjee’s mission is to take $1 billion in stolen goods off the Internet.

Here is another option for bicyclists:

Bob Mionske

Bob Mionske

My friend Bob Mionske, a great bicycle law lawyer and member of the BikeLaw.com network, has a terrific website with great advice about keeping your bike safe and secure.

He offers this advice, in part, if your bike is stolen:

  • First, notify law enforcement by filing a stolen bike report. This is where your file documenting ownership of your bike will first be utilized — you will want to provide law enforcement with the bike’s serial number and a photo of the bike. (Do you have the serial number and a photo?)
  • Next, you should conduct your own search for the bike. Look on online sites, such as Craigslist and eBay. Be aware that thieves will sometimes steal a bike in one city and advertise it for sale in another city.
  • Bring a photo of the bike and make the rounds of the pawn shops and secondhand stores in your area. If a thief tries to sell your stolen bike to them, they may recognize the bike. If they have already bought the bike, the documentation you have filed, along with the stolen bike report, will be proof that the bike is yours, and you will be entitled to recover the bike through procedures established by state law—check with your local law enforcement agency for those procedures.
  • You should also make the rounds of the bike shops in your area. Thieves will sometimes attempt to sell stolen bikes to bike shops, especially if the shop sells used bikes.
  • Finally, check the police impound yard from time to time — your bike will end up there if it is recovered. Law enforcement should notify you, but just in case they’re not as diligent as you, it won’t hurt to look. Also, check the impound yard of your local transit agency — you’d be surprised how many bikes are left behind on buses.
  • If you do find your bike, notify law enforcement for assistance in recovering your bike. If law enforcement recovers your bike, they should notify you, based upon the stolen bike report you filed.

Bicycling.com also has some great advice worth reading, too. Check it out here.

The bottom line is: Protect your bicycle today. Register it with Rejjee or take a photo of the serial number and the bike!

Thanks for reading,

Jim

James B. Reed
NY & PA Bike Crash Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

New Elmira-To-Big-Flats Trail Planned For Bicyclists! Here Is How To Get Involved, Says NY and PA Bicycle Law Lawyer

Chemung County and the City of Elmira want to build on the success of their Lackawanna Rail Trail (above and below) by building a path that links Elmira and Big Flats.

Chemung County and the City of Elmira want to build on the success of their Lackawanna Rail Trail (above and below) by building a path that links Elmira and Big Flats.

Twin Tiers bicyclists who have been seeking a safe bicycle route from downtown Elmira to the shopping areas in Big Flats can learn more and speak out starting Tuesday at one of two community meetings on a proposed bicycle path’s three routes.

Lackawanna Rail Trail 01Many people say they would love to ride their bikes but they are concerned about the dangers of riding on the road. (And no one wants to ride a bike on the Miracle Mile!) Dedicated bike trails give these people a safe, secure place to ride their bikes. Also, these trails are a wonderful place to teach children how to safely ride their bikes.

Of the three proposed routes, it is Route 3 that Elmira-Chemung Transportation Council transportation analyst Mike Perry told the Elmira Star-Gazette is the best and safest choice.

He’s right!

It takes bicyclists along David Street to Oakwood Avenue in Elmira Heights to Grand Central Avenue in Horseheads.

The first meeting is the Tuesday meeting of the Southern Tier Bicycle League at 3 p.m. at 400 E. Church St., in the Chemung County Chamber of Commerce at the Lake Street intersection.

Learn more about the proposals here.

If you miss Tuesday’s meeting, the transportation council’s Bicycle Advisory Committee and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meet at 10 a.m. April 15, also in the chamber offices.

The Elmira-Chemung Bicycle Pedestrian Trail 2035 Plan, a study finished a year ago, used community ideas to establish a network of bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly routes.

Labella Associates mapped out the following routes to the Arnot Mall:

  • Route 1, the Miracle Mile, would cost $4,116,000 to build.

  • Route 2, which follows Madison Avenue, Lake Street and Main Street, would cost $849,000.

  • Route 3 would cost $793,000.

If Route 3 is selected, there will be a lot of work to be done. A railroad crossing in Elmira Heights would need work. A culvert on Upper Oakwood Avenue would have to be wider. Grand Central Avenue near Interstate 86 would need to be wider, too, as well as the shoulders on Sing Sing Road, Colonial Drive and Arnot Road.

Construction could begin as soon as sometime in 2017, transportation officials said.

I would encourage area bicyclists to get behind the project and learn more about it. A SAFE bike and pedestrian path connecting Big Flats and Elmira would benefit all parts of the county!

Thanks for reading — and please get involved by learning more about the options and speaking out!

Jim

James B. Reed
NY & PA Bike Crash Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

 

Twin Tiers Businesses Need To Become More Bike Friendly, Says NY And PA Bicycle Law Lawyer

commutersThe League of American Bicyclists has released its Fall list of Bicycle Friendly Businesses across the United States.

These are businesses that encourage employees to bicycle to work, and perhaps even offer incentives to ride to work. These businesses sometimes organize staff rides and actively help in building a Bicycle Friendly Community.

These businesses provide safe and secure bike parking, and showers and changing areas for those who ride to work. They also provide a repair area and advocate in their community for dedicated bike paths so employees can commute safely.

These businesses also provide safety information and bike maps, and when possible, encourage employees to attend skills and maintenance classes. Educating motorists about safely sharing the road is another key component.

Finally, the businesses sometimes have a volunteer bike coordinator who coordinates events and surveys co-workers about their commuting habits.

Some upstate businesses and other organizations made the list, but none from the Southern Tier. Still, it is great to see these businesses working hard to achieve this important designation and we hope more local businesses in Chemung, Schuyler, Tompkins and Steuben counties will consider working toward being declared a Bicycle Friendly Business.  You can learn what is required to become a Bicycle Friendly Business here:  http://www.bikeleague.org/business

The Upstate NY list of Bicycle Friendly Businesses:

  • Go Bike Buffalo, a nonprofit agency, with 10 employees.
  • Ingalls Planning & Design of Fairport in Rochester, an architecture, planning and design company, with three employees.
  • Hart’s End LLC in Rochester, a food retailer in Rochester, with 68 employees.
  • R Community Bikes in Rochester, a nonprofit agency, with 80 employees.
  • Steinmetz Planning Group in Rochester, a professional services agency, with two employees.

In all, the League of American Bicyclists welcomed 43 new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Businesses (BFBs) to the Bicycle Friendly America program. More than 1,090 businesses from across the country have earned this status over the past seven years.

I know of at least one local business that is bike-friendly: C Tran, the Chemung County bus system.

FILE_CTRAN LOGOJim Arey, the director of the Elmira-Chemung Transportation Council, said most of the buses have bicycle racks that can carry two bicycles. “We have a policy that all new buses will have such bicycle racks. You see bicyclists using the racks on the buses,” he said.

FILE_CTRANBUSThe Transportation Center downtown also has two multi-station bicycle racks.

Now it is time for other local businesses to accept the challenge.

What does your business or organization do to encourage and support bicycle commuters? Please respond below, in the comments section!

Thanks for reading,

Jim

James B. Reed
NY & PA Bike Accident Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

 

 

Ithaca Should Reject Challenge To New Bike Lane, Says NY and PA Bicycle Law Lawyer

Bike lanes make it safer for bicyclists. Ithaca should not take a step back and erase the bike lane on North Cayuga Street.

Some cities get it — bike lanes make it safer for bicyclists. Ithaca should not take a step back and erase the bike lane on North Cayuga Street.  Note:  This photo is a typical bike lane, not Cayuga St.

Some Ithaca residents are fighting a great new bike boulevard on well-traveled North Cayuga Street, despite mostly public support for the creation of the bike lane during the approval process in Common Council, according to a story this week in the Ithaca Journal.

bike-lane-sign-x-r3-17The street has been repaved and relined and repainted for safer bicycle travel. The $10,000 in improvements are done for now, and reversing the work could cost up to $15,000, city officials said.

This week, the newspaper reported that five Council members were included in a letter by North Cayuga Street resident Josephine Martell, all saying they did not support the bike lane.

Several elderly residents, according to Martell’s letter, moved in part because of fewer parking spots, and her letter called for the reopening of meetings and public hearings.

The city is not eager to do this, and rightly so. The city seemingly did everything by the book and now that it’s a reality, some residents are making noise that the city should ignore.

Bill Goldsmith, a Board of Public Works member, said it would have been better to receive the information from Martell earlier in the board’s “well-publicized” process. He said he was frustrated that the opposition to the project became public as the work was being completed.

“We’ve spent a lot of time here,” Goldsmith told the newspaper.

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick said the people have spoken and they want the bike lane.

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick said the people have spoken and they want the bike lane.

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick said reversing the decision would lead to some backlash and urged a decision be put off until the future.

“I’m philosophically and fundamentally troubled by infrastructure decisions motivated solely by the interests of local residents,” Myrick said. “I spend a lot of time talking to residents, and I can tell you if that is how we made all our decisions, there wouldn’t be a block in our city without speed bumps or a dead-end street, and every other street would be a thruway.”

City Engineer Tim Logue said parking surveys of the street were completed early on, with the determination only the 800 block of Cayuga Street and Lincoln Street would have little parking and that there would be plenty of side-street parking available.

Bike boulevards or lanes save lives. They provide room for motorists and bicyclists to share the road safely. I understand residents can get upset about the loss of parking spots. But isn’t it better for everyone if our roads are safer?

Thanks for reading!

Jim

James B. Reed
NY & PA Bike Accident Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

 

 

Here Is A Summary Of Bike Laws In New York State And NYC To Keep Riders And Motorists Safe!

BFA 6

I see motorists and bicyclists break the law every day.

As a veteran bicycle law lawyer, I decided it was time to summarize our state laws so everyone sharing the road knows their rights.

Why These Laws Apply to Cyclists

NY Vehicle and Traffic Law (VTL) – §1231 – Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles – Every person riding a bicycle ….. upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle.

Rules of the City of N.Y. (RCNY) 4-02 (a) – The provisions of N.Y.C. Traffic Rules are applicable to bicycles and their operators.

Safe Passing Law:   Motor Vehicles Passing Bikes

Share-Road-Sign

Photo courtesy of RoadTrafficSigns.com. RoadTrafficSigns.com

VTL 1146 – Drivers to exercise due care. (a) Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law to the contrary, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any bicyclist, pedestrian, or domestic animal upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary. For the purposes of this section, the term “domestic animal” shall mean domesticated sheep, cattle, and goats which are under the supervision and control of a pedestrian.
VTL 1122 – The operator of a vehicle overtaking, from behind, a bicycle proceeding on the same side of a roadway shall pass to the left of such bicycle at a safe distance until safely clear thereof.
VTL 1120 – All motorists must drive on the right side of a roadway, except in the following situations:
• When passing another vehicle traveling in the same direction;
• When passing a cyclist, pedestrian, animals, or obstructions in the roadway.
RCNY 19-190 – Right of Way –
Subdivision (a) provides that if a motor vehicle driver fails to yield to a pedestrian or bicyclist who has the right of way, the driver shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $100, in addition to or as an alternative to the penalties that can be imposed for committing a traffic infraction as provided in the law. Subdivision (b) of Section 19-190 provides that if a driver violates subdivision (a) and the vehicle causes contact with the pedestrian or bicyclist, and thereby causes physical injury, the driver shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $250, in addition to or as an alternative to the penalties that can be imposed for committing a misdemeanor as provided in the law.

Bikes Passing on the Right

VTL 1123 – Overtaking on the right – The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass upon the right of another vehicle only under the following conditions:

• When the vehicle overtaken is making or about to make a left turn;
• Upon a street or highway with unobstructed pavement not occupied by parked vehicles of sufficient width for two or more lines of moving vehicles in each direction;
• Upon a one-way street, or upon any roadway on which traffic is restricted to one direction of movement, where the roadway is free from obstructions and of sufficient width for two or more lines of moving vehicles.
• (b) The driver of a vehicle may overtake and pass another vehicle upon the right only under conditions permitting such movement in safety. Such movement shall not be made by driving off the pavement or main-traveled portion of the roadway, except as permitted by section eleven hundred thirty-one of this article.

“Doorings”

220px-Door_zone_openVTL 1214 – Opening and closing vehicle doors – “No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic, and until it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, nor shall a person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.”
RCNY 4-12-(c) – Getting Out of a Vehicle – “No person shall get out of any vehicle from the side facing on the traveled part of the street in such manner as to interfere with the right of the operator of an approaching vehicle or a bicycle.”
“Doored” by a NYC Cab
RCNY 4-11(c) – “Taxis….while engaged in picking up or discharging passengers must be within 12 inches of the curb or parallel thereto “.
RCNY 4-11 (c) -Taxi and Cars for Hire – Picking up or discharging passengers shall not be made under such conditions as to obstruct the movement of traffic and in no instance so as to leave fewer than 10 feet available for the free movement of vehicular traffic; where stopping is prohibited; or within a bicycle lane.

Bike Lanes and Road Position for Cyclists

Bike-Lane-ArrowVTL 102-a – Definition of Bicycle Lane – A portion of the roadway which has been designated by striping, signing and pavement markings for the preferential or exclusive use of bicycles.
VTL 1234. Riding on roadways, shoulders, bicycle or in-line skate lanes and bicycle or in-line skate paths. (a) Upon all roadways, any bicycle or in-line skate shall be driven either on a usable bicycle or in-line skate lane or, if a usable bicycle or in-line skate lane has not been provided, near the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway or upon a usable right-hand shoulder in such a manner as to prevent undue interference with the flow of traffic except when preparing for a left turn or when reasonably necessary to avoid conditions that would make it unsafe to continue along near the right-hand curb or edge.
Conditions to be taken into consideration include, but are not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, in-line skates, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards or traffic lanes too narrow for a bicycle or person on in-line skates and a vehicle to travel safely side-by-side within the lane.
**VTL § 1234 Does Not apply in New York City. It is specifically superseded by 34 RCNY 4-02 (e) **
RCNY 4-12 (p)(1) Bicyclists may ride on either side of one-way roadways that are at least 40 feet wide.
RCNY 4-12 (p)(3) Bicyclists should ride in usable bike lanes, unless they are blocked or unsafe for any reason.
RCNY 4-12 (o) Bicycles are prohibited on expressways, drives, highways, interstate routes, bridges, and thruways unless authorized by signs.

Riding Single File or No More than 2 Abreast

VTL 1234 (b) Persons riding bicycles or skating or gliding on in-line skates upon a roadway shall not ride more than two abreast. Persons riding bicycles or skating or gliding on in-line skates upon a shoulder, bicycle or in-line skate lane, or bicycle or in-line skates path, intended for the use of bicycles or in-line skates may ride two or more abreast if sufficient space is available, except that when passing a vehicle, bicycle or person on in-line skates, or pedestrian, standing or proceeding along such shoulder, lane or path, persons riding bicycles or skating or gliding on in-line skates shall ride, skate, or glide single file. Persons riding bicycles or skating or gliding on in-line skates upon a roadway shall ride, skate, or glide single file when being overtaken by a vehicle.

Stop Before Entering Roadway

VTL 1234 (c) Any person operating a bicycle or skating or gliding on in-line skates who is entering the roadway from a private road, driveway, alley or over a curb shall come to a full stop before entering the roadway.

Cars Blocking or Obstructing Bike Lanes in NYC

A-Philly-bike-laneRCNY Section 4-08(e) – Block or obstructing a Bike lane – “No Stopping Zones (Stopping, standing, and parking prohibited in specified places). No person shall stop, stand, or park a vehicle in any bicycle lanes or within a designated bicycle lane….”
RCNY 4-12(p)(2) No person shall drive a vehicle on or across a designated bicycle lane, except when it is reasonable and necessary:
(i) to enter or leave a driveway; or
(ii) (ii) to enter or leave a legal curbside parking space; or
(iii) (iii) to cross an intersection; or
(iv) (iv) to make a turn within an intersection; or
(v) (v) to comply with the direction of any law enforcement officer or other person authorized to enforce this rule; or
(vi) (vi) to avoid an obstacle which leaves fewer than ten feet available for the free movement of vehicular traffic.
(vii) Notwithstanding any other rule, no person shall drive a vehicle on or across a designated bicycle lane in such manner as to interfere with the safety and passage of persons operating bicycles thereon.

Equipment

VTL 1236. Lamps and other equipment on bicycles. (a) Every bicycle when in use during the period from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible during hours of darkness from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front and with a red or amber light visible to the rear for three hundred feet. Effective July first, nineteen hundred seventy-six, at least one of these lights shall be visible for two hundred feet from each side.

(b) No person shall operate a bicycle unless it is equipped with a bell or other device capable of giving a signal audible for a distance of at least one hundred feet, except that a bicycle shall not be equipped with nor shall any person use upon a bicycle any siren or whistle.

No Brakeless “Fixies” in NY

VTL 1236 (c) Every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make the braked wheels skid on dry, level, clean pavement.

VTL 1236 (d) Every new bicycle shall be equipped with reflective tires or, alternately, a reflex reflector mounted on the spokes of each wheel, said tires and reflectors to be of types approved by the commissioner. The reflex reflector mounted on the front wheel shall be colorless or amber, and the reflex reflector mounted on the rear wheel shall be colorless or red.

VTL 1236 (e) Every bicycle when in use during the period from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise shall be equipped with reflective devices or material meeting the standards established by rules and regulations promulgated by the commissioner; provided, however, that such standards shall not be inconsistent with or otherwise conflict with the requirements of subdivisions (a) and (d) of this section.

2 Earphones Are Unlawful

VTL 375 24-a – Use of earphones while driving or riding a bicycle – It shall be unlawful to operate upon any public highway in this state a motor vehicle, limited use automobile, limited use motorcycle or bicycle while the operator is wearing more than one earphone attached to a radio, tape player or other audio device.

Hands on the handle bars

VTL 235 – Carrying articles – No person operating a bicycle shall carry any package, bundle, or article which prevents the driver from keeping at least one hand upon the handle bars. No person skating or gliding on in-line skates shall carry any package, bundle, or article which obstructs his or her vision in any direction. No person operating a skate board shall carry any package, bundle, or article which obstructs his or her vision in any direction.
RCNY 4-12 (e) – Cyclists must have at least one hand on handlebars at all times.
Seats and Pedals
VTL § 1232 Cyclists must ride on a permanent seat, feet must be on pedals, and bike must carry only the number of persons for which it is designed and equipped.

Children on Bikes

boy with helmetVTL 1238 – Helmets and carrying children
• A child under age one is not permitted to ride on a bicycle.
• A child one or more years of age but less than five years of age must wear an approved helmet and be carried in a properly affixed child carrier.
• A child five or more years of age but less than fourteen years of age must wear an approved helmet.

Riding on the Sidewalk and in Parks in NYC

Admin Code – 19-176 – Bicycles ridden on sidewalks may be confiscated and riders may be subject to legal sanctions (see also: RCNY § 4-07(c) (3)
RCNY 4-07 (c) (3) No driving bikes on sidewalks, unless sign allows or wheels are less than 26 inches in diameter and rider is twelve years or younger
RCNY 4-14 (c) No person shall ride a bicycle in any park, except in places designated for bike riding; but persons may push bikes in single file to and from such places, except on beaches and boardwalks.

Riding on the Sidewalk in Other Municipalities

BFA 4The NY Vehicle and Traffic Law does not expressly regulate sidewalk bicycling. However, NY General Municipal Law (Section 180)6 states that NY municipalities can regulate bike riding on sidewalks. They cannot require that bicyclists use a sidewalk instead of a public roadway, but they can impose limits to sidewalk bicycling. So it is up to individual municipalities to regulate sidewalk cycling as they see fit.
Some municipalities have no sidewalk cycling regulations, while others do regulate sidewalk bicycling. For instance, the City of Elmira prohibits sidewalk cycling for persons 14 or older. The City of Ithaca prohibits cycling on the sidewalk for anyone older than 10 years old unless a person over 10 has a disability requiring the use of a bicycle as a means of transportation or mobility.

I wrote this compilation of laws with Daniel Flanzig of Flanzig and Flanzig, LLP, www.newyorkbikelawyers.com. We collaborated on this in our roles as Legal Advisers/Board Members to the New York Bicycling Coalition and as bicycle accident lawyers with BikeLaw.com.

DISCLAIMER: Please appreciate that this compilation of cycling laws is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Also appreciate that laws change on virtually a daily basis and accordingly whenever researching any legal issue, it is critically important to perform up-to-date research to determine the current state of the law.
If you have any legal question pertaining to cycling laws in the state of New York, please feel free to contact Jim Reed at [email protected].

Enjoy your bike and ride safely!

Thanks for reading,

Jim

James B. Reed
NY & PA Bike Accident Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

 

NY Bike Accident Lawyer Applauds City Of Rochester For Inner Loop Project

overhead-existing-conditions

As an avid cyclist from Upstate New York, I have ridden my bike in Rochester, N.Y., many times for recreational riding, races and commuting.

Rochester is blessed with one of the most progressive and active cycling advocacy groups in NY, the Rochester Cycling Alliance as well as many recreational and racing clubs.

Bicycling in Rochester is thriving and Rochester continues to make great strides to make the City of Rochester a safer and more attractive place to ride your bike.

To that end, the City of Rochester has recently begun construction of a huge project to make the Inner Loop more cycling-friendly. You can read more about it here and even watch a video simulation of what it will be like to walk, ride your bike and drive through the redesigned Inner Loop.

maxresdefaultYou can find more tails about the project here, too.

It’s good news for the business community, too, according to the Rochester Business Journal.

I just wanted to congratulate the many folks who worked so hard to make this project a reality and applaud the City of Rochester for its commitment to making Rochester a safer place to walk and ride your bike.

Thanks for reading,

Jim

James B. Reed
NY & PA Bike Accident Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com

 

 

 

Thanks To CAF USA and Amtrak, Bicycling Means Big $ for Twin Tiers, Says NY and PA Bicycle Accident Lawyer

 

New bike-friendly baggage cars produced at CAF USA will be available on Amtrak long-distance routes by the end of the year.

New bike-friendly baggage cars produced at CAF USA will be available on Amtrak long-distance routes by the end of the year.

Amtrak will soon offer bike-friendly baggage cars on all 15 of its long-distance routes, thanks to workers at CAF USA in Elmira Heights, according to the New York Bicycling Coalition.

CAF USA was awarded a $298.1 million contract in 2010 to build the baggage cars and other cars for Amtrak.  This is great news for our local economy and it is great news for all N.Y. cyclists.

The Coalition said the new cars’ built-in luggage racks will secure unboxed bicycles, which means passengers will no longer have to box their bicycles to be checked as baggage. As someone who has frequently traveled with my bikes, I LOVE the fact that Amtrak is making it so much easier to take bikes on their train.

CAF USA is producing bike-friendly baggage cars for Amtrak in Elmira Heights/

CAF USA in Elmira Heights.

As the Coalition noted in this blog post:

“This is good news for bicycle-touting passengers using New York’s only long-distance Amtrak train, the Lake Shore Limited, who will benefit from the new bike-friendly baggage car service on this route between New York City and Chicago.

“The improved service will make it easier for cyclists to travel by train from New York City to many upstate destinations, including Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Utica and Albany.  The service will also contribute to bicycle tourism in the state by providing a more convenient way for cyclists in the Midwest to access some of New York’s best bicycling destinations and events via rail.”

“(The) New York Bicycling Coalition has long advocated for roll-on bicycle service on Amtrak trains in New York, and we remain committed to introducing and improving rail transportation options for bicyclists in an effort to promote bicycle tourism across the state,” said Josh Wilson, Executive Director of New York Bicycling Coalition.  “This news is fantastic, and we hope to see this service expanded to other Amtrak routes in New York.”

According to the Coalition, shorter corridor routes in New York, including the Adirondack, Ethan Allen, Maple Leaf and Empire Service trains, will not include the service. Bicycles can’t be carried onto these trains, which serve many smaller communities whose local economies often depend on tourism.

Thanks for reading,

Jim
NY & PA Bike Accident Lawyer

_________________________________

James B. Reed
NY & PA Bike Accident Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
            NYBikeAccidentBlog.com