Tag Archives: Injury

Test Your NY Bike Law IQ By Reading My Column At The Odessa File

Odessa File

A few months ago, I began writing a column for The Odessa File (photo above), a must-read community news website in Schuyler County. Since my wife and I live there now, I wanted to find a way to connect with my fellow residents, and I know that everyone in the county reads it. Charlie Haeffner has created a great resource for county residents, and I will say it again: Everyone. Reads. It.

The feedback has been great and people are coming up to introduce themselves on the street when I am out in the community. It’s been a great icebreaker.

0411reedPicI just published my fifth column this year. I write about legal news that people can use in their everyday lives. I have written about a great insurance change in state law for New York State drivers; about how a woman’s tragic death has led to a positive change in another state law; and about how writing wills can be a messy process for families.

My latest column is a wake-up call for New York motorists and bicyclists. The hibernation is over.

The snow is gone for good (I hope) and bicyclists are getting their bikes out of the garage and checking their brakes and tires. As we all prepare to hit the road again, and dodge the horrible potholes that winter left behind, it’s time to remind everyone on the road what the law says about the rights of motorists … and bicyclists!

So please. go read the terrific Odessa File website and read my column.

As a bonus, I have a brief quiz in the column that will test your knowledge about basic bike laws in NY. If you email me your answers, I will enter you in a drawing for a $50 gift card to a great Watkins Glen restaurant.

You can also email me at [email protected] f you’d like a very readable and easy-to-understand primer on NY laws for bicyclists. It’s a great refresher so we all have another safe year of sharing our roads with drivers, motorcyclists, and pedestrians.

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

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.

Blog Post Tells Harrowing Tale Of One Rider’s Personal Hell After Collision

 

bicycle-accident-hit

The Cycling In The South Bay blog had a great post recently that captures very well the agony/frustration/despair that often afflicts my clients who have suffered life-changing bike crashes.

The blog post looks at a January 2015 collision Deb Banks suffered when she was run down  by a drunk driver. She suffered multiple serious injuries:  a fractured pelvis, a huge gash on her arm , and most devastating, severe life-changing leg injuries.

Deb has endured five surgeries since then, and is still fighting for recovery every day. The driver was sentenced to nine years in jail. Sadly, Deb will suffer much longer than those nine years as she will have a lifetime of pain and hurdles to overcome on the road to recovery.

To understand all that she has endured, read the blog post here. It’s heartbreaking, and probably hard for many cyclists to read. But you should read it. Now. It could happen to any of us at any time we are riding.

The blog post has a couple important messages for all of us who ride bikes:

  • “First, it’s an explicit command for you to check your auto liability insurance and make sure that you have at least $500,000 in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. If your carrier won’t let you insure to that amount, change carriers.”
  • “Second, it’s a commentary on the trajectory of injury. We see Facebook posts of friends in the hospital, or gory aftermath photos, or black-and-white images of pins and bolts drilled into bone, and then we move on to the next item. It’s difficult to comprehend that after we’ve glanced at the photo, the person is still living with the injury, suffering from it, and in some cases is going to be dealing with it the rest of their life.”
  • “Third, this is the story of how one person deals with having her entire life upended as a result of one drunk driver. It’s not an easy story or a saccharine one, and it doesn’t have a happy ending because there is no ‘ending.’ There’s just a story about being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and moving forward with what you’ve got left.”

The blog post writer concludes with some comments worth highlighting here:

  • “The real jail sentence has been the collateral life damage, and it’s something that every injured cyclist knows about intimately.”
  • Deb’s leg injury “requires constant daily care. It hurts all the time. It gets infected. She can’t swim, can’t bike, can barely walk, sleeps with her leg on a foam pad, and can’t sleep under the covers. In other words, her life has completely changed as she’s been thrust into the alt-universe of the catastrophically injured, i.e., those who carry massive disruptions to their daily life and emotional well-being along with the catastrophic physical injuries.”
  • “… If the ankle never mends, life today becomes a template for the rest of life, which means dealing with a leg that is permanently disabled.”
  • “One unexpected benefit to constantly struggling is empathy. Deb now ‘gets it’ in a profound way. However big her challenges are, she understands and empathizes with people who are in even bigger pain, in even more dire straits with no hope, ever, of recovery.”
  • “… She wants to prove that she can come back, that she can do it again, and then maybe she’ll be done with it. It’s occurred to her that cycling for hundreds of miles may not be her thing anymore, but if she does bow out, she’s vowed to do it on her terms, not on the terms of (driver) Gabriel Ray. ‘He doesn’t get to decide how I choose to live my life. He doesn’t.’”

Thanks for reading, and be sure to read the complete blog post!

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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]

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Guest Post: PA Bicycle Attorney Explains Tort Insurance Options for Pennsylvania Bicyclists

Bicycle riders in Pennsylvania should learn their tort options on their car insurance.

Bicycle riders in Pennsylvania should learn what their tort options mean on their car insurance.

Bike accident lawyer Matt Dolfi of Pittsburgh unravels the confusion faced by bicyclists in the Northern Tier and across Pennsylvania over the “full tort vs. limited tort” options on car insurance in the Keystone State, and what it means for insured bicyclists who are injured by motorists.

Matt does a great job of explaining in very simple terms that just because a person has selected the “limited tort” option on their auto insurance policy does NOT mean that they are “limited” by that option should they be injured by a car while riding their bicycle (or walking as a pedestrian). The bottom line is that bicyclists and pedestrians get the benefits of the full tort option when injured by a motor vehicle regardless of whether they carry the full or limited tort option on their own vehicle.

You can read Matt’s blog here and learn more about Matt’s practice here.

Here are some of the high points from Matt’s excellent blog post:

Full tort or limited tort: Does a limited tort selection on an automobile insurance policy apply in a bicycle accident?

The short answer is – no. If you are injured by a motorist while riding a bicycle, your ability to recover for pain and suffering is not affected by a limited tort selection on your motor vehicle insurance policy.

Matt Dolfi.

Matt Dolfi.

Many people believe that if they are involved in a bicycle accident with a motor vehicle (car, truck, bus, etc.), their limited tort insurance selection applies and precludes recovery for pain and suffering in the absence of a serious injury. But, that is not the case. Instead, because you are not occupying or operating a motor vehicle at the time of a bicycle accident, your limited tort selection does not apply.

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

 

 

 

For NY And PA Bicycle Accident Lawyer, It’s A HUGE Honor To Be Featured In National Bike Law Expert’s Blog!

bl_header

BobMionskeinStarsAll of my fellow avid bicyclists know Bob Mionske, the former Olympic and pro cyclist who also happens to be a top-notch Oregon bicycle accident lawyer who wrote THE book on bike law, “Bicycling and The Law.”

Dan Flanzig, a New York City bike accident lawyer, and I were recently honored to be interviewed by Bob for his blog, BicycleLaw.com.

For bicycle accident lawyers, being featured in Bob’s blog is like an athlete being featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. It doesn’t get any better!

Dan and I were interviewed because we were both selected to be featured in BikeLaw.com as among the top bicycle accident lawyers in our state.

Dan and I talked about:

  • How we got started as bicycle accident lawyers.
  • The state of bicycling in New York, upstate and downstate.
  • Our work with the New York Bicycling Coalition. We are both board members.
  • The statewide political climate in Albany for bicycling.
  • Our best advice for bicyclists involved in accidents.

My wife and I have both been struck by vehicles while riding and I talk about the impact it had on us. You’ll have to read the interview for those comments but here are some of the other excerpts:

  • Historically, the cycling movement hasn’t been particularly well-received in Albany but things seem to be warming and we are cautiously optimistic that there are better days ahead. I think many NY politicians and state agencies are starting to see the huge benefits cycling can offer in many different respects—health, improving urban transportation, tourism dollars and reducing fuel consumption.
  • NYBC is the largest cycling advocacy group in New York and … is really on the move. NYBC is targeting a few key legislative projects: E-bike legislation, a 3-foot safe passing law, and specific inclusion of cycling safety education to the new driver curriculum and driver permit test.
  • Proper insurance coverage can mean the difference between financial devastation versus successfully surviving the financial damages caused by a bad bike crash. One quick insurance tip: if you are a NY cyclist who also owns a car, make sure you have at least $250,000 of SUM (Supplemental Under-Insured Motorist) coverage on your auto policy. This coverage protects you if you get hit by a car that is either uninsured or under-insured. You can read more about SUM coverage on my blog, New York Bike Accident Blog.

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