Tag Archives: Jim James B. Reed

Confront Dangerous Drivers? NOT A Good Idea…..

Bicyclists are back on our potholed Twin Tiers roads, and in addition to navigating around bad road conditions, we have to be mindful of the drivers around us. We’ve all gotten angry at thoughtless or careless drivers, and in that moment, did we confront? That’s a dangerous place to be.

Every bicyclist has at least one story (and usually many more) about careless, aggressive, and impatient drivers who have cut them off, turned in front of them, almost doored them, often without thinking about our safety. Bicyclists are invisible and insignificant to millions of drivers.

Eben Weiss

Eben Weiss, the author of the book “Bike Snob” and the blog Bike Snob NYC, has a great column in Outside magazine where he talks about the spur-of-the-moment decision all cyclists have to make when we’re wronged: Do we confront or let it go?

Eben’s column headline says it all: “Confronting a Driver From Your Bike Is Never Worth It.”

He’s right. With thousands and thousands of miles of cycling experience, I have had more than my fair share of encounters with angry motorists who apparently feel that bicyclists have no right to share the road. I have had things thrown at me, I have suffered dangerous brush-backs (also known as “punishment passes”), and I have been screamed at at close-range by teens trying to scare the bejeezus out of me.

I would like to say I have always reacted with calmness and good cheer.

Nope. Not even close.

I have f-bombed, I have given the finger, I have encouraged the cowardly, menacing drivers to have the guts to come back and confront me without the protection of their thousand pounds of steel armor.

With one exception – thankfully, a stoned 90-pound woman – no one has taken me up on the offer to come back. But I have been lucky so far.  And luck only works for so long.

So I have now reformed my ways.  No longer do I confront motorists and I STRONGLY urge cyclists to NOT confront motorists under any circumstances.

The bottom line is that any confrontation with a motorist could go wrong in so many way — a gun, a knife, a tire iron, the cyclist run over, etc. So the much smarter way to handle a nasty driver is to let it go and immediately report it to the police.

Eben Weiss is right when he writes this in Outside about bicyclists’ bad options:

No matter how justified, ultimately it’s never satisfying to fly into a rage; if anything, you just wind up feeling guilty and ashamed, like when you wake up on the couch covered in Cheetos after a Netflix binge. As for administering a devastating dressing-down with such surgical precision that the driver immediately questions all the life choices that led them up to this moment, no matter how clever you are, attempts to deliver the mot juste invariably backfire and leave you feeling even angrier.

I agree, Eben. Pick your fights!

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

Jim

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

 

 

Buffalo Building Better Bike Safety– Hat’s Off to Them!

Justin Booth of GO Bike Buffalo, left, and Bill Nester of the League of American Bicyclists.

Justin Booth of GO Bike Buffalo, left, and Bill Nester of the League of American Bicyclists talk on Aug. 18.

As an Upstate NY cyclist, bike accident lawyer, and a New York Bicycling Coalition Board member, I am wildly enthusiastic about the continuing strides being made in Buffalo and Rochester to promote safer cycling in those Upstate cities!

On Aug. 18, GO Bike Buffalo and other bicycling advocates in Western New York met with Bill Nester, Vice President of Programming with the League of American Bicyclists.

There is a great story about the meeting on the New York Bicycling Coalitiion website.

Nester was in Buffalo to talk about why it’s important for Buffalo and other communities to be part of the League’s Bicycle Friendly Communities program.

So why become a BFC?

From the NYBC story: By taking key steps to become a Bicycle Friendly Community, like adding and improving bike infrastructure such as protected bike lanes and trails, the BFC program benefits not only residents of your city but it also helps to attract people from other states and nations. Multiuse paths, rail trails, protected bike parking, great events like Buffalo’s Skyride and much more, are all BFC developments and activities that make people feel comfortable while biking in your town and region.

The meeting attracted local political leaders and the news media.

Rochester is also on the road to making its city more bicycle-friendly by working to make its Inner Loop safer for riders. I blogged about that project here.

The Rochester Cycling Alliance, the city’s bicycling advocacy group that is helping with the Inner Loop project, will host a 2016 meeting about the League’s Bicycling Friendly Communities. No date has been set yet, but I will publicize it here and I hope Twin Tiers residents will attend the meeting and begin advocating for similar status in Elmira, Corning and Ithaca.  Better bike safety is good for everyone!

Thanks for reading!

Jim

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

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

BFA 6

I see motorists and bicyclists break the law every day.

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

Why These Laws Apply to Cyclists

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

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

Safe Passing Law:   Motor Vehicles Passing Bikes

Share-Road-Sign

Photo courtesy of RoadTrafficSigns.com. RoadTrafficSigns.com

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

Bikes Passing on the Right

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

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

“Doorings”

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

Bike Lanes and Road Position for Cyclists

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

Riding Single File or No More than 2 Abreast

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

Stop Before Entering Roadway

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

Cars Blocking or Obstructing Bike Lanes in NYC

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

Equipment

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

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

No Brakeless “Fixies” in NY

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

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

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

2 Earphones Are Unlawful

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

Hands on the handle bars

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

Children on Bikes

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

Riding on the Sidewalk and in Parks in NYC

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

Riding on the Sidewalk in Other Municipalities

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

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

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

Enjoy your bike and ride safely!

Thanks for reading,

Jim

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

 

The Newest Way To Protect Bicyclists: Video Cameras

 

helmet mount cameraIn my almost 30 years of representing injured cyclists it has been interesting to watch the impact that various new technologies have had on cycling and the bicycle crash cases.  This has been both bad and good.  Some technologies are responsible for causing more bike/car collisions (I.e. Cell phones, GPS) and some technologies (surveillance videos, body-mounted cameras) are actually assisting cyclists in proving that their collisions were due to the actions of an unsafe driver.

In this post, I discuss the increasing importance played by body-mounted or bike-mounted cameras.

Sad to say but when there is a bike collision, even when the motorist was clearly at fault, it is VERY common that the motorist will NOT accept personal responsibility and will instead blame the cyclist.  Over and over again I have seen otherwise honest drivers falsely claim that the cyclist was the cause of the collision rather than admitting they were at fault.

I used to believe that most drivers intentionally lied to avoid liability but I now believe that there is a deeper psychological principal at work here– people simply can’t stomach the idea that they inadvertently hurt someone so their brain reprocesses how the accident occurred in a way that deflects blame from them and imposes it on someone else, anyone else.  It’s the grown up version of the little kid that adamantly and earnestly denies that he walked through the kitchen with his muddy shoes despite the long line of muddy footprints that convincingly prove otherwise.

Compounding the problem of driver’s adamantly denying fault is the fact that many police officers seem to have a strong predisposition to blame the cyclist.  Many times this occurs because the cyclist is badly injured so they are unable to tell their version of how the collision occurred so the police officer accepts the motorist’s version as gospel because that is the only version he has heard. Other times, the motorist tells one version, the cyclist tells another version, and the officer simply doesn’t take the time to thoroughly investigate (interview ALL witnesses, take photos and measurements of skid marks, physical evidence, etc.).

So in many of my bike accident cases it becomes tough to PROVE who was at fault.  One tool that can make a huge difference is video of how the collision occurred.  As the old saying goes “a picture is worth a thousand words”.

Many cyclists have now resorted to using a “black box” — a tough, mountable camera that records footage during a ride. The hi-res cameras could serve as a deterrent for motorists who may otherwise drive recklessly. They are there to provide footage for police in the unfortunate event a cyclist is hit or harassed by a driver.

The Huffington Post has a great story about a mother and her 1-year-old son who were struck by a car three years ago while walking in a crosswalk in Washington, D.C. An avid rider of a 100-pound cargo bike, the mother, Megan Odett, now wears a GoPro camera to help protect herself after close calls on her bike.

It’s sad that cyclist’s need to wear cameras to prove the fault of the drivers who often falsely claim that the cyclist was at fault. In my own cases, on many occasions, I find that the driver’s frequently lie and attempt to blame the victim.  Although I don’t wear a camera myself, I certainly think it’s a good idea for those cyclists who frequently ride on busy urban streets. Sad to say but sometimes one can’t be too careful….

Having a point-of-view camera is a huge help in hit-and-run cases, since the proximity to the vehicle as well as the image and audio quality are better than that of red light and surveillance cameras. In other cases, the camera is an impartial observer that can help determine which party was at fault, the reporter noted.

Fly6LightCamera

Fly6 Combination Light & Video Camera

The market is ready. In February, the Fly6, a combination rear bike light and audio/visual camera specifically designed to record drivers behind a cyclist who may rear-end, cut off or unsafely pass a biker was unveiled.

Australian cyclist Paul Ludlow was able to use Fly6 footage (here) after police initially believed the account of the driver who allegedly cut Ludlow off. (Go to settings and set it to .25 speed so you can see what really happened.)

“[The camera] proved everything,” Ludlow told HuffPost via email. “The police then advised me that they were going to charge the driver as he had failed to give way to an oncoming vehicle.”

Dina Driscoll, a 30-year-old Philadelphian who bikes with her kids, told the HuffPost she wears her camera mounted to her helmet.

“It’s the most visible to drivers,” she said. “I point to it sometimes if a driver is being really aggressive, [as if to say] ‘Hey, I notice you.’”

See the full story here.

Do you have a wearable camera or do you plan to soon buy one?

Tell us about your experience in the comments below if you already have a camera.

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

 

 

Horseheads Bicyclist Struck By Drunken Driver Receives $1.8 Million Settlement, Says NY and PA Bicycle Law Lawyer

Truck driver Joseph Chaffee told police he was taking "swigs" of vodka as he made deliveries shortly before he struck and seriously injured bicyclist Joseph Schrom

Truck driver Joseph Chaffee told police he was taking “swigs” of vodka as he made deliveries shortly before he struck and seriously injured bicyclist Joseph Schrom. The book bag with the vodka bottle was on the front seat of his truck.

A Horseheads man who was critically injured when he was struck by a drunken driver while riding his bicycle in September 2010 will receive a settlement of more than $1.8 million over his lifetime. I negotiated the settlement with the insurance company for the truck driver’s employer on behalf of Joseph Schrom, now 21.

Joseph Chaffee violently struck the rear of Joseph Schrom's bicycle on Sept. 23, 2010, causing serious injuries to Schrom.

Joseph Chaffee violently struck the rear of Joseph Schrom’s bicycle on Sept. 23, 2010, causing serious injuries to Schrom.

Schrom was riding on Old Ithaca Road in Horseheads near Ridge Road on Sept. 23, 2010, when his bicycle was struck from behind by a Wolfe Distributing truck driven by Joseph Chaffee of Towanda. Schrom was waiting to make a left turn when the accident occurred. Chaffee was charged with Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated and other charges after police determined his blood-alcohol level was .18 percent.

Chaffee admitted to police that he was taking “swigs” of vodka that day as he made deliveries. A vodka bottle was found in a book bag on the front seat of Chaffee’s truck.

Schrom, who was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, suffered a traumatic brain injury and numerous other injuries and has had multiple surgeries and hospitalizations since the accident.

Chaffee told police that Schrom turned into the path of his truck, but an accident reconstructionist showed that Chaffee’s claim was incorrect.

I am pleased that this substantial settlement will provide the financial assistance he will require to offset, in a small way, the permanent limitations caused by the injuries he suffered in the crash.

Chaffee pleaded guilty in 2011 in Horseheads Town Court to Aggravated DWI and Consumption of Alcoholic Beverages in a Motor Vehicle. He was sentenced to a three-year conditional discharge, 180 days in the Chemung County Jail, a $600 fine, a $400 surcharge and had his driver’s license revoked for one year.

Thanks for reading!

Jim

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

CAF USA in Elmira Heights.

As the Coalition noted in this blog post:

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Jim
NY & PA Bike Accident Lawyer

_________________________________

James B. Reed
NY & PA Bike Accident Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
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For Your Safety, Bike Like You Are Driving A Car, Says NY Bike Accident Lawyer

Great advice from an Ithaca bicyclist: "Don't risk your safety for a driver's convenience."

There was an excellent discussion on our local bicycle listserv (pasted below with permission of the authors) that very logically explained what I have always advocated — that riding assertively and visibly as if you were a car is safer than trying to timidly hug the curb.

As Ithaca cyclist Andy Goodell concluded: “Don’t risk your safety for a driver’s convenience.” We have a right to the roads, and it’s simply safer to take the lane and ride as if you are driving a car in most situations downtown.

Please read the discussion and then share your comments as to whether you agree with this riding style or share with us any riding practices you feel contribute to greater safety.

Andy is writing about bicycling on Ithaca city streets, but his descriptions and accounts will easily translate to the streets in Elmira, Corning and anywhere else in the Twin Tiers for bicyclists.

Our good friend from Ithaca, Andy Goodell, had this to say: 

When I moved to Ithaca four years ago, I had some similar interactions and wondered why the heck people in cars drive so poorly when bicycles are near. It took me a few months to figure it out. It became rather clear to me over time that within the city, the more I ride my bike as if I’m driving a car, the fewer issues I had. I have ridden these roads and know the turns …, and when I imagine someone trying to ride next to a curb on a bridge, or splitting lanes expecting to go straight on Buffalo Street, or otherwise trying to avoid traffic on roads like these rather than being part of it, I can remember why I had those same difficulties once.

The simple answer is to act as any driver does, and use the lane. Cyclists have the right to use the full lane when sufficient space to share side by side (14 feet) is not available. I cannot think of a lane in Ithaca that is wide enough for that, so that means that I typically ride prominently in the lanes where I am visible, can ride in a predictable path, and can avoid any potholes or debris, rather than stay next to the curb. To clarify, when there is a clear and safe shoulder, I do use that space, but for the majority of city roads that is not available.

For beginners, that can go against their sense of  “I must stay out of the way of drivers at all costs” that I once had as well, but I can assure you that I now have many fewer poor interactions with drivers than when I first started cycling.

The trouble with trying to stay to the side is that it entices drivers to pass, even if it’s not safe. For example, on a bridge, if there are cars coming the opposite direction, I’m likely to move into the middle of my lane so that cars approaching me from behind don’t try to pass and cross the yellow lines at an unsafe time.

And about 99.9 percent of the time that works — the car behind me slows down for half a second, the car ahead passes by, I move back to two to three feet from the curb to allow myself a safe amount of space to avoid water grates or debris or whatnot, and the car behind me safely passes and gets to the red light maybe two seconds later than if they gunned it to pass me.

My office recently moved downtown, and I commute east along most of Buffalo Street each morning. I see other cyclists weaving around the parked cars on that road, and cars passing them rather unpredictably, seemingly unsure of if the cyclist is continuing straight or turning.

Unless there is a section of about 10 empty parking spaces or more, I ride in the middle of the lane on Buffalo Street every day now because I’ve found that interactions are simply more positive when I do that.

Considering it’s a densely populated area with cars parked along both sides of the street, a 15 mph school zone for a block or two, pedestrians crossing at every block, frequent red lights, and traffic turning at every raised intersection, it just isn’t any faster for someone driving to pass me. A few try, and we always end up at the same red light just a few seconds apart. This only helps justify why I take the lane most of the time.

There is simply no reason that I should give up my safety for someone driving a car to reach the next red light a few seconds faster. They can try, and they can grumble about me “in their way,” but I’m not going to ride along car doors that can open at any second, or weaving around parked cars unpredictably, or hug the curb only to get the “right hook” when someone tries to turn right and cut me off.

Similarly with Green or Seneca streets in downtown Ithaca, which have two lanes in each direction, I feel no need to ride along the side next to parked cars as I see many other cyclists doing. When I used to ride that way, people passed me giving very little space trying to stay within the lane. I was cut off by drivers more frequently when they made right turns and incorrectly assuming that I was out of their way on the side.

I was also stopped suddenly as cars from the side streets turning onto Green or Seneca didn’t see me because I was along the side and not prominently in the lane where they are looking for traffic. With two lanes present, it is just more predictable and safer to ride in the middle of the right lane. Even a bike lane here would be of no use unless the parking along the side was also removed, as riding 10 to 20 mph alongside cars is asking for the “door prize.”

Since these roads have fewer stops, traffic can get up to 30 mph, but I’m never impeding traffic since they can pass me on the left lane at any time. I wish more cyclists would take the lane, and maybe this rant will help a few more to understand why many people do take the lane, as I’ve found it significantly safer, easier, and more convenient.

Don’t risk your safety for a driver’s convenience. We have a right to the roads, and it’s simply safer to take the lane and ride as if you are driving a car in most situations downtown. I’d be more than happy to go for a ride to demonstrate this to anyone that doesn’t think that is so.

And then my fellow lawyer/cyclist/friend Bill Lodico chimed in:

Andy,

Thanks for taking the time and trouble to write this.

Your method is exactly the right method for navigating motor traffic in a place like Ithaca (or Elmira, for that matter).

Riding a bicycle in traffic requires that you grab your spot in the traffic and make yourself obvious when you’re doing it. Even though you are not motor traffic, and you have to respect the ways in which you are different from motor traffic, if you want to move with the flow of motor traffic, you have got to put yourself where motorists are going to be looking for other traffic and used to making room for it, i.e., where other motorists are. And you’ve got to move as much like a motorist as you can.

With all the difficulty motorists have watching out for other motor traffic, you can’t reasonably expect them to be watching out for bicyclists doing their best to disappear in the parking lane (or scrunching themselves into the typical minimalist bike lane).

It’s going to remain an unfortunate fact that city streets, even in a small city like Ithaca, are not a friendly place for cyclists who don’t understand these principles or can’t accommodate them.

Thanks for reading both letters. Please share your comments below!

Thanks, Jim

_________________________________
James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice 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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Ziff Law Firm Collects Food Items For Elmira Food Pantry in Exchange for FREE Pioneers Tickets!

Help us stock a local food pantry this summer by making a donation at our office.

The Ziff Law Firm is collecting nonperishable food items for an Elmira food pantry. Those who donate five or more items will receive two free general admission tickets to the July 11 Elmira Pioneers baseball game at Dunn Field.

Donations are being accepted at our office at 303 William St. in Elmira. The office is just north of the intersection of East Church and William streets.

The office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays for donations. The donated items will be provided to the North Presbyterian Church Food Pantry in Elmira.

The Ziff Law Firm has a long history of helping our community, and we realize many families will need assistance this summer. We know the generous people in our community will help us keep the food pantry shelves full this summer.

The Pioneers will play the Glens Falls Golden Eagles at 7:05 p.m. July 11 at Dunn Field.

The donation deadline is Friday, July 6.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call us at (607) 733-8866 or (800) ZIFF-LAW (943-3529).

For those who contribute, please accept our sincere thank you!

Thanks for reading and helping others!

Thanks, Jim

_________________________________
James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice 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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NY Bicycle Attorney Elected to Board of New York Bicycling Coalition, Also Named Legal Consultant

Support NYBC please....

Let me apologize in advance for tooting my own horn but I am honored to have been unanimously elected to the Board of Directors recently for the New York Bicycling Coalition, an organization I have long admired that “advocates for the rights of all bicyclists and pedestrians in every region of New York by supporting safety, education, and access for road and trail users.”

I will also be NYBC’s designated Bicycle Accident Legal Consultant which is a logical extension of my work on bike accident cases. In the past, the news media contacts me when they need a bicycle accident lawyer’s comments for a story, and I am always happy to help in any way I can to educate the public about bicycle safety and the rights of bicyclists. I have been quoted nationally in the  The New York Times, the New York Post and locally in many papers including the Elmira Star-Gazette and The Leader in Corning .

I am flattered and excited to join the Board because I have long been impressed with the tremendous cycling advocacy work performed by NYBC. I also know that some of the most influential and passionate bicycling advocates in New YorkStateare on the board and I am very excited to start working with them to promote cycling throughout the state.

As the designated bicycle accident legal consultant, I hope to better educate cyclists throughout the state as to their legal rights when they have had the misfortune to be injured in a bike accident.

And finally, I hope to help advocate for new laws that will better protect the cycling community.

I hope all of my readers, regardless of whether they are riders, will consider joining the NYBC to help improve cycling for ALL in New York State.

Check out the NYBC website to learn more about this great organization and how you can join.

NYBC advocates for bicyclists with local, state and federal government agencies. NYBC educates New Yorkers about the benefits of riding and walking. NYBC participates in training programs, and you can download its very helpful Safety Manual here.

They are a great resource, and I am honored to bring this great organization to your attention. I will say more about NYBC in the coming months!

Thanks for reading!

Jim

_________________________________
James B. Reed
NY & PA Injury & Malpractice Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
Mailto: [email protected]
Office: (607)733-8866
Toll-Free: 800-ZIFFLAW (943-3529)
Web: www.zifflaw.com
Blogs: NYInjuryLawBlog.com and
NYBikeAccidentBlog.com