Category Archives: Elmira bike accidents

USA Cycling Teams Up With Bike Law Lawyers, Including Me, To Protect Cyclists

 

There is some very big news in the U.S. cycling world today. US CX Nats

Bike Law, a national network of bicycle crash attorneys, is now the exclusive legal partner of USA Cycling, the governing body for competitive cycling in the United States. This partnership will provide USA Cycling members with respected and professional legal assistance and much more: information, education, and
increased awareness of cycling laws, legal reform and advocacy.

As a proud member of USA Cycling, I can’t wait to see the synergy created by the Bike Law/USAC partnership.  I am one of two New York State attorneys in the Bike Law network. I am available to represent New York and Pennsylvania bicyclists and their families.

Bike Law, has lawyers representing cyclists and advocating for cycling safety across the United States and Canada.

USAC-logo

Bike Law will provide USA Cycling members with exclusive benefits, including:

  • Priority initial consultation with a bike attorney within 24 hours and at no charge.
  • Reduced fees in bicycle crash cases for members.
  • Ongoing consultation for clubs on organizational legal issues at no charge.
  • Speaking engagements on bicycle law to clubs at no charge.
  • Priority consideration for pro bono legal representation by the Bike Law Defense League to advance cycling justice.

Join USA Cycling today to support a great organization and join the fight to help make our roads safer!  USA Cycling has recently added a Ride Membership for those cyclists who love to ride but have no desire to race.

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

 

Can Drunken NY Bicyclists Be Charged With DWI? NY Bicycle Crash Lawyer Has The Answer

 

wrecked-bicycle

I recently received a question from an Elmira College student, who raised a very interesting – and often misunderstood – issue: bicycling while intoxicated.

Can riders be arrested like motorists?

Here is the question, edited for length:

I recently rode my bicycle to a local bar and had a glass of beer. The bartender cautioned me by saying, “You can still get a DWI on a bicycle.”

I have heard this before, and have witnessed family and colleagues get arrested for driving their cars while intoxicated. The consequences have been devastating emotionally, financially, and socially.

 

I expect bicycling will get more popular and become a necessity for some riders, so I envision our nation’s bicycling infrastructure will continue to grow in the future. What is the current law in New York State?

Here is my answer to the student:

As an avid cyclist, former President of the NY Bicycling Coalition, and Elmira bike crash lawyer, I can tell you that while bicycling while intoxicated is NOT a good idea, it is incorrect that you can be charged with BWI (Bicycling While Intoxicated in NY).

While in some states riding a bicycle under the influence of alcohol can lead to the same DWI charges as those a motorist could face, in New York you cannot be charged with a DWI for riding a bicycle while drunk. The legislature specifically defines the DWI law as applying to the operation of a “motor vehicle.”

Accordingly, if you are riding a bicycle, skateboard or any other non-motorized vehicle and have had one too many drinks, you cannot be charged with BWI.

However, as with all laws, some exceptions do apply. If you have altered your bike by installing a motor, you will not be exempt from New York DWI laws.

In addition, just because you are exempt from DWI laws when drinking and biking, does not mean that you will not face misdemeanor charges, such as public intoxication or some other form of public endangerment. Although these involve lesser charges with relatively minor punishments, they will nevertheless result in court costs and additional fines.

But as I said, if you choose to drink, the best policy is to err on the side of caution and not ride your bicycle in order to avoid any potential legal trouble and danger to both your own health and those of others on the road.

Thanks for reading, and please ride sober!

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

 

At Long Last, A Simple Law To Save Bicyclists’ Lives — Proposed 3-Foot Passing Law For NY!

If you could change just a few words in an existing law to make it safer for every person in NY to ride their bikes, wouldn’t you do it?

If the change in the law wouldn’t cost a penny but would save millions of dollars a year, wouldn’t you do it?

Of course you would!

NYBC logoAs President of the New York Bicycling Coalition (NYBC), I am pleased to announce that NYBC has secured support in both the New York State Assembly and Senate for a new 3-foot passing law in NY. Here is the Senate and Assembly bills.

State Sen. Tom O'Mara.

State Sen. Tom O’Mara.

My personal thanks to New York Senator Tom O’Mara, who agreed to be the lead sponsor for this important law in the Senate, and to Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, who agreed to co-sponsor the Assembly bill. It is so nice to know our local legislators truly care about cycling safety in NY.

But now comes the hard part, and this is where we can use your help. We need concerned, caring bicyclists to reach out to their local legislators to ask that they please support this important law.  We need people to visit, write and email their legislators. We need legislators across NY to know about this important law and to know it matters to all NY cyclists.

NYBC will be teaching its members across the state how to support this new law. If you are interested in helping this effort, please join NYBC today.

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano.

Assemblyman Phil Palmesano.

Memberships start at just $35 but if you can’t swing that amount, email me at [email protected] and I will get you on the NYBC mailing list so your voice can be heard.

Let’s bring New York State law into the 21st century. Let’s save lives and save money. Let’s send a message that New York is serious about creating a safe and shared road system throughout our great state!

Thanks for getting involved,

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 Jim Reed Elected President Of NY Bicycling Coalition

Jim Reed of the Ziff Law Firm

Attorney Jim Reed, managing partner of the Ziff Law Firm, was recently elected president of the board of the New York Bicycling Coalition (NYBC), a group that advocates for a safer New York state for bicyclists.

Jim is passionate about bicycling and will help NYBC grow and reach more riders across the state. He will be a game-changer for NYBC!

“The New York Bicycling Coalition is dedicated to making bicycling safer for all New Yorkers,” said Jim, who has handled hundreds of bicycle accident cases in his 27 years as a lawyer. “As a personal injury lawyer representing cyclists from all over the state, I know all too well the dangers faced by cyclists. It is my personal goal to see fewer fatalities and injuries, and I hope to achieve that goal while working hard on behalf of NYBC.”

Jim Reed use this photoJim, who has been on the NYBC board for four years, has been an avid cyclist since he was a teenager. He participates in all kind of cycling, including road racing, mountain biking, bike trips and recreational riding.

The New York Bicycling Coalition advocates in Albany and across the state for better transportation policies, more funding, and educating about bicycle safety, the benefits of riding, and treating riders with respect.

NYBC welcomes Reed’s energy and passion for safety.

“Jim is the right person to lead NYBC as we begin our second quarter-century as the only statewide organization working on the full spectrum of bike and pedestrian issues,” said NYBC Executive Director Paul Winkeller. “His successful work as a bike lawyer has encompassed advocacy, education and enforcement – all the elements that need to be aligned in order to ensure a safe and shared road and trail system serving every New Yorker.”

NYBC logo“Jim’s immense passion for cycling and his deep understanding of the transformative value of healthy transportation and recreation will serve NYBC well as we continue to grow our impact throughout the state,” said Justin Smith, NYBC communications director. “Jim’s proven leadership in his community and at his practice combined with his extensive legal experience representing people who bike, as well as his desire to enable everyone to pedal to better, fuller lives, will ensure that NYBC’s governance remains strong as we advance our efforts helping communities in New York state become safer and more enjoyable places to ride a bicycle.”

If you are interested in supporting the important mission of NYBC you can join here:  www.nybc.net/join.

Thanks for reading!

Attorney Adam Gee
[email protected]

 

 

 

Why I Believe We Need a Better Safe Passing Law to Protect NY Bicyclists

safe driving pic

A safe bicycle passing law in New York State designed to make it safer for bicyclists and motorists to share the road is too vague and hard to enforce.

Merrill Cassell.

Merrill Cassell.

Merrill’s Law, passed by the state Legislature in June 2010, requires motorists to pass bicyclists at a safe distance to prevent accidents. The law was named in honor of Merrill Cassell of Hartsdale, a safe bicycling advocate who was struck by a passing public bus and killed in 2009. The bus driver was never charged.

A recent story in a downstate newspaper, published on the fifth anniversary of Merrill’s death, shared the sad news: bicyclists don’t feel safer and police across the state are writing few tickets for safe passing violations.

Law enforcement professionals say the law is almost impossible to enforce.

In this 2010 blog post, I said I was happy to see the law pass but I was critical of the wording, calling it too vague to enforce. I was right.

Because what constitutes a “safe distance” is not clearly defined under the current NY safe passing law, the legal distance is subject to interpretation. Frankly, I much prefer the safe passing law of at least 24 other states who list a specific, objective “safe passing” distance like 3 feet, 4 feet or more.

I prefer this objective standard because I think it is easier for prosecutors to prove an objective, concrete distance like 3 feet rather than argue about what might have been safe under the circumstances.

I have long believed the NY safe passing law is virtually worthless because of the difficulty of determining legally what constitutes a “safe distance” for a motorist to pass a bicyclist.

Unfortunately, in any case involving anything short of the cyclist actually being struck by the motorist, the motorist has a compelling argument that the passing distance “must have been safe because I didn’t hit the cyclist.”

Because of this ambiguity, many police officers have told me off the record that they won’t write tickets for violating this law unless there is an actual collision.  And at least one local DA has told me the same thing. So what good is a law that law enforcement won’t enforce?  No good.

Because of the lack of enforcement of our current law, I have spent many hours advocating for NY to adopt a 3-foot passing law. I think 3 feet is easy to enforce because that’s the length of a yardstick that hangs in virtually every elementary school classroom I have ever been in.

For sports fans, one yard is one of those hashmarks on the field every time you tune into a football game.  For a person of average height, 3 feet is their approximate arm length.

No measurement is easy or precise, but in my view, any particular measurement (i.e., 3 feet or 4 feet)  is much better than the ambiguous “safe distance.”

Here is the law under discussion:

  • 1122-a of the Vehicle and Traffic Law of the State of NY: Overtaking a bicycle.

“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.”

Would 3 feet be a safe passing distance? Or do you prefer 4 feet, or more?

Please add your comments below!

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

 

 

 

 

Jim Reed Selected For National Bike Law Legal Network To Represent Injured NY Cyclists

I am pleased and honored to announce that I have been selected by Bike Law, a national network of attorneys who represent and advocate for bicyclists, to represent injured N.Y. bicyclists. The network, at www.bikelaw.com, was founded by attorneys like me who help victims of bicycle crashes and advocate for safe bicycling.

badge-nyI am just one of two New York State lawyers named to represent bicyclists through BikeLaw. I will be available to represent clients from Upstate New York (all counties North of Westchester County).

The other N.Y. lawyer selected by BikeLaw is my good friend and excellent bike crash lawyer Dan Flanzig of New York City.  Dan will represent N.Y.C. area (Westchester, Dutchess, N.Y.C. & Long Island) bike crash victims.

The Bike Law network was founded by Peter Wilborn of South Carolina and Ann Groniger of North Carolina. Joining Ann and Peter is Bob Mionske, a former professional cyclist and Olympian, and author of “Road Rights,” Bicycle Magazine’s monthly bike law column.

I am truly flattered to join this collective of the best bike crash lawyers in the country and I know that having access to so many of the most experienced bike accident attorneys in the country will greatly assist me in my own representation of injured cyclists.  As the old saying goes “two minds are better than one” and with this brain trust of dedicated bike lawyers we will have MANY minds to put to work!  🙂

badge

Joining BikeLaw, will also enhance my cycling advocacy work.  As many of my readers know, I enjoy serving on the board of the New York Bicycling Coalition, and I am also a legal adviser to NYBC.

If you or a loved one ever have the misfortune to be injured while cycling, please do not hesitate to give me a call or shoot me an E-mail as I represent bicyclists and their families from New York and Pennsylvania and have received many awards, including being selected Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers in America; a New York SuperLawyer for the last six years; and a member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

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

In Memory Of Matt Miller, NY State Senate Right To Support O’Mara-Backed Legislation Calling For Bike Safety Instruction For New Drivers, Says NY and PA Bicycle Lawyer

Matt and Michele Miller and their 7-year-old son, Holden.

Matt and Michele Miller and their 7-year-old son, Holden.

The New York State Senate this week approved legislation, co-sponsored by Sen. Tom O’Mara (R,C-Big Flats), to add bicycle and pedestrian safety training in New York State’s pre-licensing driver’s education and examination requirements in the wake of the death of bicyclist Matt MIller, according to a news release from O’Mara’s office.

State Sen. Tom O'Mara.

State Sen. Tom O’Mara.

The measure was approved with strong bipartisan support, 58 to 1. Read the legislation here.

O’Mara first said he’d support the bill on May 15 at the Awareness Ride in Memory of Matt Miller at Eldridge Park in Elmira, a 6.2-mile bike ride around city streets that drew about 200 bicyclists.

Matt, 43, a 1989 Elmira Free Academy graduate, was struck head-on and killed in April by a left-turning motorist while riding his bike on Hendy Creek Road in the town of Southport. The driver was ticketed for Failure to Yield the Right of Way.

Matt is survived by his wife, Michele, and their 7-year-old son, Holden. Family and friends have started a college fund for Holden. You can learn more and donate here.

I am representing Matt’s family in all matters pertaining to Matt’s death, including a wrongful death action to financially provide for his family. 

If approved by the Assembly and signed by Gov. Cuomo, the legislation would require the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to include instruction on:

  • Safely passing a bicyclist on the road.
  • Special considerations while driving in urban areas.
  • The definition and designation of bicycle lanes.
  • How to navigate an intersection with pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Leaving a vehicle without endangering pedestrians and cyclists.

“Matt Miller’s tragic death has led the local cycling community to get behind this legislation, and it’s made all of us more aware than ever of the need for this action,” said O’Mara, a member of the Senate Transportation Committee, in the news release. “Making all drivers more aware of sharing the road with cyclists and pedestrians is the most effective way to make our roadways safer. It’s a straightforward, common sense piece of legislation that could save lives and the Assembly leadership should approve it.”

The legislation moves to the state Assembly, where it remains in the Assembly Transportation Committee. O’Mara said he would push the Assembly to approve it before this year’s regular legislative session adjourns.

To learn more about Matt and how family and friends have rallied the local bicycling community, click here.

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

 

 

 

Look Left Twice To Save Lives! Column Reminds Left-Turning Drivers To Be Vigilant, Says NY and PA Bicycle Lawyer

kingsburys photo 2

Matt and Michele Miller and their son, Holden.

Matt Miller would be proud of his family and friends.

They have rallied to get the word out in the community about the dangers of left-turning drivers in the wake of Matt’s death in a bicycling accident in April. Matt was struck by a left-turning motorist and died the next day. He is survived by his wife and their 7-year-old son.

I recently happily did my part to help his family get the word out. I wrote a newspaper column about the very real dangers bicyclists face every time they put on their helmets and head down their driveways. We live at the mercy of those driving around us.

The column was published in the Sunday Star-Gazette which is our local paper widely distributed in the areas surrounding Elmira, Corning and Ithaca, NY. My column urged motorists to look twice to save lives when making left turns. That second look may save the lives of countless bicyclists, motorcyclists, runners and other pedestrians.

Remember this phrase as you are making your next left turn:

Look twice to save lives.

I hope you will take a few minutes and read the column.

And remember those five words.

Thanks,

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

O’Mara Vows To Advocate For Bicycle Safety Legislation In Albany, Says NY Bike Crash Lawyer

Matt Miller holds his infant son Holden, who is now 7. Matt was killed last month when his bicycle was struck by a car.

Matt Miller holds his infant son Holden, who is now 7. Matt was killed last month when his bicycle was struck by a car.

New York State Sen. Tom O’Mara, R-Big Flats, gets it when it comes to bicycle safety.

State Sen. Tom O'Mara.

State Sen. Tom O’Mara.

Our terrific senator spoke last week before the start of the Awareness Ride in Memory of Matt Miller, which started and ended last Thursday evening under gray skies at Eldridge Park in Elmira.

Senator O’Mara reminded motorists to be vigilant in watching for cyclists, pedestrians, runners.  He said that he would throw his support behind a pending bill (see more below) promoting greater motorist education regarding cycling safety.  And finally, he offered his condolences to Matt’s family and friends.  

I know how busy Senator O’Mara’s schedule is so I was very pleased that he accepted the invitation to make the opening remarks at the Awareness Ride.  

Hundreds of people turned out to remember Matt, a 1989 Elmira Free Academy graduate who was struck and killed by a left-turning motorist last month in the Town of Southport.

Sen. O’Mara has earned the respect and admiration of Twin Tiers bicyclists by pledging to co-sponsor a bill in the New York State Legislature that would add a bicycle and pedestrian safety component to the pre-licensing driver’s exam and driver’s manual. You can read the legislation here.

State Assemblyman Christopher Friend.

State Assemblyman Christopher Friend.

I have also emailed state Assemblyman Christopher Friend, R-Horseheads, to support this bill in the Assembly.  I haven’t received a response yet but I hope Assemblyman Friend will support this important cycling legislation.

I believe in the importance of cycling advocacy. I am an outspoken defender of bicyclists’ rights, and am on the board of the New York Bicycling Coalition, where I fight for important cycling legislation. My work also benefits pedestrians, runners and motorcyclists, anyone who is seemingly invisible to our distracted motorists these days!

I am representing Matt’s family in all matters pertaining to Matt’s death, including a wrongful death action to financially provide for his family. His family and friends have told me what a loving and devoted father and husband he was to his wife Michele and son Holden, 7.

Matt would want something positive to come out of his tragic accident. Let’s all pledge to cut down our distractions while driving and remember to be especially mindful when we make turns to watch for everyone, not just other vehicles.

Now it’s your turn to get involved and let our local elected representatives know what you think and why this legislation is important:

To contact Sen. O’Mara’s office, click here.

To contact Assemblyman Friend’s office, click here.

Thank you for reading and getting involved!

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

 

 

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