Tag Archives: Cycling

Inspect Your Quick Release To Avoid Devastating Failure While Riding

It’s winter in NY and PA — cold and icy and snowy, definitely not bicycle season — so it’s a good time to head to your garage, get your bike out, and complete a safety check. We will get our first taste of spring soon, I hope, so be ready.

quickrelease2If you have a quick-release seat or front wheel, that’s a good place to start your winter inspection. I will focus on that today because failure, of either the front wheel or the seat, can lead to very serious injuries and destroy your bike.

Please watch the instructional video above by Global Cycling Network. It’s a great primer for new and future quick-release users.

So you and your buddy installed quick-release seats and wheels last fall, and had a few safe rides? You think you have nothing to worry about, right?

I hope so, but … I have handled a few bike crash cases caused by quick-release failures. As you might imagine, if the quick-release fails and your wheel suddenly separates from the bike, injuries can be catastrophic.

Quick-release failures can be caused many ways:

  • Improper installation.
  • Improper adjustment.
  • Poor manufacturing.

The point is that if someone is injured because of a quick-release failure, they should:

  • Immediately preserve the bike and wheel and …
  • Contact an experienced bike crash lawyer who can then investigate the details of the crash and determine the cause of the failure.

I would recommend you take your bike to a local bike shop this winter and have them inspect your quick-release levers. Also be sure they observe how you remove and return your wheel and/or your seat. They might have safety suggestions after observing your methods that will save you thousands in medical costs.

Losing a front wheel while riding could send you head-first toward the pavement, so be as prepared as you possibly can before spring arrives.

Be safe on our roads, and thank you 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Check Out Great Video Series On NY Bicycle Laws

If you or someone you love rides a bike in New York State, take 12 minutes or so and watch the two-part video series above that explains bicycle law in New York State. It’s an investment in your family’s safety on the roads!

I am sure even experienced NY bicyclists and drivers will learn something new about state law when they watch these videos, so I HIGHLY recommend these videos to all NY bicyclists and drivers.

Remember, ignorance of the law is no excuse!

The NY Bicycling Coalition made the videos with the Albany Police Department, thanks to funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with a grant from the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee.

The videos will be used by law enforcement agencies around the state to improve knowledge and enforcement of vehicle and traffic laws relating to bicycling, according to NYBC.

Check out my NY Bicycle Law Primer 2017 for a PDF summary of state laws that you can download and keep in your home!

The NY Bicycling Coalition made the videos with the Albany Police Department, thanks to funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with a grant from the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee.

Be safe on our roads, and thank you 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

 

For Steuben County Magistrates, Bicycle Law 101 Was An Eye-Opener, Says NY and PA Bicycle Law Lawyer

I recently spoke with members of the New York Magistrates Association at a meeting in Corning. The members are town and village judges and justices who often don’t have the legal training of lawyers, so they welcome presentations by top lawyers.

Jim Reed.

Jim Reed.

I talked to about 35 judges and justices about New York state bicycle laws, and many told me afterward how much I opened their eyes to the unsafe conditions faced by bicyclists on the roads.

The video at the top of this page was taken by one of my clients who was seriously injured in a collision with a vehicle that turned left in front of him in Pennsylvania. Even the seasoned judges were surprised by the violence of the crash captured on the bicyclist’s helmet cam.

To engage my audience, I did most of the presentation in quiz format, and it was quite effective.

Here are my questions, with the answers I provided to members.

  1. May bicyclists in New York state legally ride side by side?
    Answer ….  Yes but not when passing parked cars, other bicycles or pedestrians.
  2. Is it legal for a bicyclist to ride in the driving lane?
    Answer ….  Yes, bicycles are permitted to use the entire driving lane when it would be unsafe for them to stay to the right or when they are preparing to make a left turn.
  3. Are all bicyclists in New York required to wear helmets?
    Answer ….  No for anyone older than 14.  Yes for 14 and below.
  4. Must all bikes in New York be equipped with lights?
    Answer ….  Yes if riding after dark.  No during the day.
  5. Is it legal to ride with headphones?
    Answer ….  Two headphones, no.  One headphone, yes.

It was surprising to me that many of the judges didn’t know that legally a bicycle rider has all of the same rights and obligations as if they were a motor vehicle.

Bicycle law is an area where many magistrates are not well informed because they don’t deal with it on a regular basis, like they do with the state’s Vehicle and Traffic Laws, said Annette Viselli Thorne, Painted Post Village Justice and vice president of the county’s magistrate association.

“With the increase in the number of bicyclists on the roads, and Jim’s advanced experience as a cyclist and bicycle law expert, he was a perfect fit for an educational presentation to the association,” she said. “His presentation was extremely informative and the resource documents he provided will be an asset to every judge and justice who sits on the bench.”

NY Bicycle Law Primer 2017

Click above for a copy of the NY Bicycle Law Primer 2017 that I shared with the judges and justices.

Thank you 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

Dream Jobs For Rochester Teens At A New Kind Of Bike Shop

news1-1-18dce1946534d326

David Gayle,16, and Shandan Jones,17, both of Vertus High School in Rochester, change a wheel at Dream Bikes on University Avenue. (Photo by Kevin Fuller, City Newspaper.)

There was a great story recently in the Rochester City Newspaper about a great life-changing opportunity for kids in Rochester.

14581490_186139165176732_61796676990708398_nDream Bikes, a nonprofit bike shop that opened earlier this year on University Avenue in Rochester, provides jobs to teens from lower-income neighborhoods in the city, according to the story.

The teens do the work. They do the customer service and sales, and work on the bikes.

This story warms my heart on two levels: 

  • First, it gives kids an opportunity to work with their hands, which is very important today, where shop programs have been eliminated from the schools.
  • And second, it means more kids riding bikes, which also is important today, when so many kids simply don’t have the opportunity to ride bikes.

What a wonderful win/win for the kids in Rochester!  The reporter on the story is right when he says that bicycles CAN improve lives.

16996010_259184571205524_5809000796459761078_nThe manager of the shop, Paul Barrows, summed it up very well: “We’re just here to try to help them out, give them a step up.”

According to the story:

Trek Bicycles formed Dream Bikes in 2008 and opened its first shop in Madison, Wisconsin, the home of its corporate headquarters. It opened a second location in Milwaukee, and the two locations have provided jobs for 80 teens and repurposed 10,000 bikes.

The Dream Bikes board decided last year to expand into additional cities and picked Rochester because of its struggles with poverty and its low city school graduation rates, Barrows says.

Thank you 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

 

 

 

 

 

NY Highest Court Ruling Could Make Streets Safer In NY For Bicyclists

Injured Bicyclist

Jonathan Maus, the publisher and editor-in-chief of BikePortland.org, had a great recent post about a New York Court of Appeals ruling about city street design and accident liability that could be great news for bicyclists all over the country.

Jonathan writes:

  • “After years of assuming cities had blanket immunity from liability when it came to street design decisions, a recent decision by New York’s highest court has thrown that into question. The court found that the City of New York can be held partly liable for a man’s death because they knew the road encouraged speeding and unsafe driving but they failed to study and implement measures to mitigate the risk.
  • “The ruling is being hailed as a “landmark” and “game-changing” decision by New York City nonprofit organization Transportation Alternatives.”
  • Bigger“Here’s what Transportation Alternatives said in its statement: The New York high court just ruled that the City can be held liable for failing to study and implement traffic calming measures, which the jury determined were a major factor contributing to the crash. In a 2004 incident, the driver was traveling at 54 mph on Gerritsen Avenue, which had a speed limit of 30 mph. Prior to the incident, the City had been advised by local residents, elected officials, and the Department of Transportation that speeding was common on the street, but that no sufficient speed study or traffic calming review was performed. The Court found the City liable for failing to adequately study and mitigate the road conditions that contributed to the speeding, stating that “an unjustifiable delay in implementing a remedial plan constitutes a breach of the municipality’s duty to the public.”
Jonathan Maus.

Jonathan Maus.

Jonathan continued: Experts testified during the trial that “it was known among traffic engineers that straight, wide roads” that lack pedestrian-friendly features “encourage speeding because drivers feel more comfortable on roadways with those characteristics.” The Court distinguished these types of thoroughfares from streets that have traffic calming measures in place, which “cause drivers to be more cautious” and “are known to reduce the overall speed on roadways. … The ruling is a major development because it means the City can potentially be held liable for unsafe street designs.”

Jonathan also got reaction from my fellow BikeLaw.com lawyer and Bicycling Magazine columnist Bob Mionske, who said the decision is a “watershed moment for cycling advocates.”

Here are Bob’s comments to Jonathan:

Bob Mionske

Bob Mionske

“Traffic violence is the issue for advocacy efforts and this decision opens the door to holding liable the only party who can make the changes necessary for a safer transportation environment. I applaud their decision as all cycling advocates should.” Bob said he thinks the ruling will lead to more lawsuits against public entities for unsafe road design which will in turn compel municipalities to make the roads safer.

“My guess is that the Turturro decision out of New York Court Of Appeals,” Bob said, “will be used as support in other jurisdictions, and we will see some jurisdictions agree with New York and others continue to apply their state’s sovereign immunity statutes, especially in states with ‘absolute’ state immunity.”

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

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

 

BikeLaw Lawyer Jim Reed makes the Huffington Post!

My wife Meg and me with author and wine lover Stefani Jackenthal (right).

My wife Meg and me with author and wine lover Stefani Jackenthal, right. (Photo courtesy of Huffington Post/Stefani Jackenthal.)

It’s not every day that you see your name (and worse yet, your photo in lycra!) on the Huffington Post but I recently had that pleasure/horror in a very nice article about the CycleAdirondacks bicycle riding event held this past August. As many of my readers know, my wife Meg and I love getting away for cycling weekends and vacations. We look for new places to visit and ride year-round all over the country and world, but our favorite places are closer to our home on Seneca Lake in New York State. Yes, we do love New York!

logoIn August, while we were riding in Cycle Adirondacks on our tandem, we met Stefani Jackenthal,  a former professional athlete who now works as a travel and wine journalist, educator, and consultant.

Meg and I love to ride, and love wine, too, so the three of us became fast friends, and now Stefani has published an account of her visit to the Adirondacks in a great post on Huffington Post.

The Reeds are flattered to be a part of Stefani’s account of the terrific weekend ride.

We highly recommend watching for the third annual Cycle Adirondacks!

We met Stefani on a steep, winding uphill part of the course and we rode much of the next three days together.

Comfy Campers provided our weekend accommodations. (Photo courtesy of Huffington Post/Stefani Jackenthal.

Comfy Campers provided our weekend accommodations. (Photo courtesy of Huffington Post/Stefani Jackenthal.

I told Stefani we were encouraged by friends who participated in the first event in 2015 to give it a try, and I also told her how much we were enjoying “glamping” (see photo at left). Comfy Campers provides a tent, air mattress and chair for weary riders like us.

Check out all of Stefani’s terrific story (there are many photos), and to learn more about her, click here and here.

To learn more about the 2017 Cycle Adirondacks, click here.

The ride benefits, in part, Wildlife Conservation Society promoting many community-based programs in the Adirondacks.

Message me using the link below if you have any questions about the event!

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

 

 

Police were Wrong but the Judge Gets It Right In Fatal NYC Bike Crash Case

Actress Caitlin Venedam.

Actress Caitlin Venedam.

An actress who struck and killed a bicyclist in 2014 while distracted by her cell phone has been barred from driving in New York state – not by police or a criminal court judge, but by an administrative law judge.

Many times I have had the unfortunate experience of the police simply not getting it right, so this case, where the police were wrong and the administrative law judge was right, is especially impressive.

Police said Caitlin Venedam, 28, a standup comic and actress who portrayed “Chastity” in the TV series “Gossip Girl,” ran down Matthew Brenner, 29, at about 9:30 p.m. on July 6, 2014. Police let her drive away without any charges.

But according to a report on dnainfo.com:

State Administrative Law Judge Regina A. Rinaldi decided that “a contributing factor in Matthew Brenner’s death was (Venedam’s) failure to exercise due care to avoid striking (the cyclist).”

Rinaldi barred Venedam from driving in New York state, starting in March 2016. She can still drive in her home state of New Jersey.

My friend and fellow BikeLaw lawyer, Dan Flanzig, represented the bicyclist’s Estate.  Dan did a great job of exposing evidence that would not have come out but for his efforts.

Daniel Flanzig.

Daniel Flanzig.

“But for our civil suit, certain things would never have been brought to light, including that she was using Google Maps to guide her,” said Flanzig, who said the actress would still be driving in New York were it not for information uncovered in the civil suit.

“That should have been used by (NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad). The Administrative Law judge would never have had the evidence necessary to revoke her license. The CIS work alone was completely insufficient.”

According to dnainfo.com, the actress told lawyers in a deposition that she was coming from her home in Point Pleasant, N.J., and was rushing to pick up a friend at LaGuardia, but ended up driving away from the airport on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

The report says:

Venedam got off the highway at Sands Street to call her friend and consult Google Maps on her cellphone because she was lost.

With her phone still open to Google Maps sitting on the passenger seat, Venedam drove down the street and veered across a safety triangle in order to make it back on to the BQE, according to the report.

The actress testified that she was traveling between 25 and 30 mph and was using audio prompts from the location app.

A video of the crash shows the actress trailing close behind a car that veered out of the way to avoid Brenner, then she smashed into the cyclist in the safety triangle as he tried to make his way to a bike path on the other side of the entrance ramp.

Police originally blamed Brenner for riding his bike across the ramp to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, but the video shows he was not in the roadway.

Venedam was cited four times from 2006 to 2012 for unsafe driving, speeding, not wearing a seat belt and blocking traffic, according to New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission records.

Flanzig said criminal charges would be difficult to bring against her because distracted driver statutes require the driver to be holding the cellphone.

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