Tag Archives: Lawsuit

Second Elmira Bicyclist Struck By Car This Week; Drivers, Share The Road and Pay Attention!

WETM photo.

I am sad to report that another Elmira bicyclist was struck by another careless motorist who simply wasn’t paying attention and struck a bicyclist while making a turn.

At about 7:30 a.m. Friday, a motorist struck a male bicyclist, identified as a man in his 50s, at Roe Avenue and Hoffman Street on Elmira’s Northside, about one city block from Arnot Ogden Medical Center. The driver was turning right from Hoffman Street into Roe Avenue when they struck the bicyclist. Fortunately, the bicyclist suffered non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

The driver was ticketed for Failure to Use Due Care For a Bicyclist, police said.

WETM photo.

Drivers are legally required to share the road with other vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians. It is NOT an excuse to say, “I didn’t see the bicyclist” or “I didn’t notice the pedestrian in the crosswalk.” As a driver, it’s your legal DUTY to be observant and see what is there to be seen.

So, please, when driving, be on the outlook for bicyclists, walkers, joggers, kids on skateboards. Paying attention saves lives ….

Charles G. Rogers

On Tuesday afternoon, bicyclist Charles G. Rogers, 68, of Elmira, was struck and killed in a crosswalk by a drunk hit-and-run driver on Grand Central Avenue in Elmira near the Clemens Center Parkway Extension and the north entrance to Eldridge Park.

The driver of the vehicle, who police said was drunk at the time of the crash, was stopped by Elmira Heights police after fleeing the scene. Sara Harnas, 40, of Elmira Heights, is facing two felony charges – first-degree Aggravated Unlicensed Operation and Leaving the Scene of a Fatal Accident. Her license has been suspended six times, police said, and she did not own the car she was driving at the time of the accident.

A Chemung County grand jury will decide whether Harnas faces additional charges, police said.

In Friday morning’s crash, news reports said the driver of the 2016 Ford sedan, who was not identified by police, was traveling south – in the same direction as the unidentified bicyclist – when the sedan hit the bicyclist.

The bicyclist was transported to Arnot Ogden Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

Police are asking witnesses to contact the Elmira Police Department at 607-737-5626 or the anonymous tip line at 607-271-HALT.

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

Tragic Crash In Elmira: The Villain And The Hero

The recent fatal bike crash in Elmira revealed the worst of humanity and the best of humanity.

The worst in a woman, in the middle of the day, who was extremely drunk. Who drove her car drunk.  Who ran down an adult bicyclist in a crosswalk.  Who left that poor man to die while she sped away while holding her crushed windshield.  Who tried to evade a brave hero who was chasing her as she tried to escape responsibility.

The best in a brave citizen, simply driving home from work, who saw a car with a crushed windshield and a man lying on the road next to a crumpled bicycle, who didn’t hesitate for a second, who made a quick U-turn and chased after the car. Who called 911 while following that car until police arrived.

We have nothing more to say about the horrible drunk, but we did want to take the time to applaud and publicly thank Jimmy Melton of Waverly. who was the brave good Samaritan. The world needs more people like Jimmy who are willing to get involved and help when unspeakable tragedies occur.

Our law firm sponsors a Hero of the Game at each home game of the Elmira Pioneers and it is our hope to honor Jimmy with a special tribute at a Pioneers game this summer.  In the meantime, to Jimmy, we simply say thanks for being a local hero.

On TV: Local lawyer, avid bicyclist speaks out after alleged hit and run kills one

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

UPDATE: Drunk Elmira Heights Woman Arrested After Elmira Bicyclist Killed In Hit-And-Run Crash

Charles G. Rogers, a 68-year-old bicyclist from Elmira, was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver with a suspended license Tuesday afternoon on Grand Central Avenue in Elmira, police said.

Charles G. Rogers

Mr. Rogers was crossing in the crosswalk on Grand Central near the Clemens Center Parkway Extension, close to the north entrance to Eldridge Park, at about 2 p.m. Tuesday when he was struck by a northbound 2006 Ford Fusion driven by Sara Harnas, 40, of East 11th Street in Elmira Heights, according to Elmira police.

He was transported by Erway Ambulance to Arnot Ogden Medical Center in Elmira, where he died a short time later, police said.

Ms. Harnas initially fled the scene and was only apprehended by the swift and brave action of a witness who followed her while calling 911. She was taken into custody by Elmira Heights police officers on East 14th Street in Elmira Heights near Lake Road.

Ms. Harnas allegedly was highly intoxicated. Alcohol and drug tests are pending. Her driver’s license has been suspended six times, police said.

Ms/ Sara Harnas

Ms. Harnas was charged with Leaving the Scene of a Fatal Accident and First-Degree Aggravated Unlicensed Operation, both felonies, and arraigned on Tuesday night in Elmira City Court and sent to the Chemung County Jail, police said.

The investigation continues and additional charges are expected, police said.

As a member of the Elmira bicycling community, my heart goes out to the family of Charles G. Rogers.

As a local bicycle advocate and Board member on the NY Bicycling Coalition, I will be working with our biking community to ensure that this reckless drunk driver is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We thank the wonderful citizen who followed the hit-and-run driver until the Elmira Heights police pulled Ms. Harnas over. Of course, more details will emerge as the Elmira Police Department completes its investigation, but it is our hope that this drunk driver will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

In the meantime, again, our condolences to Mr. Rogers’ family and friends.

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

 

 

It’s Already Been a Deadly Year for NYC Bicyclists…..And It’s Only March

David Schlichting (Facebook)

Sad to say but it appears to be  open season on bicyclists in New York City.  So far this year, in less than three months, 7 cyclist fatalities.  In the last week alone, two very experienced bicyclists were struck and killed.

NYC police said a total of 10 bicyclists were killed in the city’s boroughs in all of 2018, so 2019 is looking like a much more deadly year for cyclists. Some bicycle advocates are estimating that there could be 30 or more deaths this year on NYC streets. And there are real steps the city — and all cities — can take to protect bicyclists from some of the hazards.

On March 14, 53-year-old Robert Spencer was killed just blocks from his home in Long Island City. Police did not identify the 51-year-old female driver who struck him but said the investigation continues.

On March 17, 66-year-old David Schlichting was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver on Long Island.

Both were described as experienced and careful cyclists.

Bicycle advocates in New York City called for the city to move quickly to install bike-centric infrastructure across the five boroughs.

> Police and neighbors said Spencer was struck in an uncompleted bike lane. Residents living near the crash scene recently requested a two-way protected bike lane near the intersection where he was killed.

“Another awful tragedy. Another life lost. Another family shattered,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer on Twitter. “We cannot normalize traffic violence and deaths. They cannot be a foregone conclusion. Cyclists deserve safety on our city’s roads like everyone else.”

“DOT will look into potential safety enhancements, as we do following any fatality,” a city Department of Transportation spokeswoman told the news media. The DOT also said it would implement areawide traffic-calming measures around the crash scene and will re-examine existing construction projects to ensure the paths are safe.

Spencer’s family and friends held a weekend vigil and placed a ghost bike at the crash scene.

> Schlichting was struck by a minivan driver who fled the scene and remains at large, police said.

Friends told the news media that Schlichting had been involved in the cyclist community for decades, beginning with his volunteer work with the American Youth Hostels nonprofit, which for much of the 1960s and 1970s organized bike trips in the city. In the 1970s, the group became the Five Borough Bicycle Club and Schlichting helped launch the Five Boro Bicycle Tour, an annual 40-mile ride that remains the country’s largest gathering of cyclists.

He also helped lead multiple safety and educational campaigns for fellow cyclists.

“David was happy to make substantial volunteer commitments, but not concerned about getting credit for work that he did,” said Steve Vaccaro, a friend and safe streets advocate. “He was really ubiquitous in New York City cycling for decades.”

Bike New York, a nonprofit organization that teaches safe cycling, said in a statement: “Dave was a longtime and much-loved part of our extended Bike New York Family. We’re outraged a driver could recklessly run him down and be so cowardly as to flee afterwards. We urge Nassau County authorities to stay on the case and ensure the driver is caught.”

Bike New York President & CEO Ken Podziba called Schlichting “one of the most disciplined bike riders we know” in a statement, adding that his death illustrates that “no matter how experienced and careful a bike rider is, cyclists in the New York area will continue to die and be hurt until governments at all levels, take street and road safety seriously enough to build networks of protected bike lanes, design streets to operate at safe speeds, and get problem drivers out from behind the wheel.”

Please ride safely out there…….

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

 

Nice Video Promotes Kingsbury’s Cyclery, Boosts Downtown Elmira

It’s great to see longtime Elmira business owners – and longtime champions for downtown – work together to promote a great business and help a local agency that serves people with disabilities. It’s an inspiring story that resulted in the production of a terrific video (above) promoting the Twin Tiers’ premier bicycle shop — and a downtown with new energy.

Rich LaVere

Rich LaVere, the owner of Nutmeg Upcycling on West Gray Street, recently helped promote Kingsbury’s Cyclery, the great bicycle sales and service shop owned by Paul Kingsbury on West Water Street, by overseeing the production of a six-minute video that does a professional job of profiling Paul and his shop. Rich worked with Kyle, an Arc of Chemung client, to make the video.

Paul has been in business at various locations in the Elmira area since 1981, when he was 20 years old, and has been downtown for about 30 years.

“I appreciate the hard work by Kyle and Rich,” Paul said. “The video is very professional. It’s so good that some of my customers have asked when it’ll be on TV. It’s been a really nice boost for the shop.”

Rich, a talented photographer and videographer, is the owner of LaVere Media, which was in the Midtown building on North Main Street for years. He closed that storefront a few years ago, but cameras are still Rich’s first love. Now he’s channeling some of his creativity into “upcycling” used items that he transforms into one-of-a-kind originals in his cozy shop under the Mark Twain Apartments, and using his creativity to give back to the community he loves.

Rich was approached by the Arc of Chemung to serve as a mentor for Kyle, who has an interest in animation and filmmaking. Kyle filmed and edited the video with Rich’s guidance.

“Kyle was (and is) very enthusiastic about this area of creative expression, and is very eager to learn all aspects of the business,” Rich said. “I found him to be delightful and very professional. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with him, and can’t wait to see what he does going forward.”

Rich suggested that Kyle create a “mini-documentary” about Paul’s shop to highlight a longtime downtown business. Rich helped Kyle with some basic video skills and guided him in expressing his ideas visually.

“This is a project I’m pretty passionate about for a lot of reasons,” Rich said. “It touches on many things that matter to me: Community, local business, and working with underserved communities.”

Rich said Kyle did the principal videography, choosing his own shots and style, and they worked together during the editing process, with Kyle making most of the editorial decisions.

“It was a true team process, and Kyle’s input was not only welcome, but essential to making this work,” Rich said. “I also want to thank Paul Kingsbury for graciously giving his time and expertise. If you are looking to purchase a bike, a bicycle accessory or just want to talk about bikes, you should definitely visit Paul.”

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

 

In Rochester Car-Bike Crash, Young Bicyclist Steps Up … But Driver Doesn’t

Julian Moore and his mother, Jenny Moore, near the scene of Julian’s bike collision in September. (Photo by Rochester Democrat & Chronicle newspaper)

Sometimes, a 10-year-old boy can be more responsible than a 66-year-old man.

That was the case last fall in the aftermath of a car-bike crash in the Rochester suburb of Pittsford, according to a report this week in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle newspaper.

The boy, 10-year-old Julian Moore, was riding his bike in his neighborhood on Sept. 7 when he was struck by a Range Rover being driven by 66-year-old Doug Lamb of Canandaigua,  Lamb had left nearby Oak Hill Country Club after a round of golf and was driving a borrowed Range Rover.

Julian Moore’s bicycle following the crash. (Photo by Rochester Democrat & Chronicle newspaper)

Although Lamb stopped after Julian crashed to the pavement, he left before police arrived. He didn’t identify himself to anyone at the scene, not Julian or his mother, Jenny Moore, who was called to the scene, or paramedics or witnesses. Police said he also never reported the crash to the authorities.

Julian suffered only scrapes and bruises and was later diagnosed with a concussion, his mother said.

It took investigators two weeks to track down Lamb at his lakefront home and charge him with Leaving the Scene of an Accident Causing Personal Injury, a misdemeanor.

Lamb told police he checked on Julian, waited for 30 minutes at the scene, and left after Julian’s mother declined treatment for Julian. He told investigators he didn’t think he was needed anymore.

Police reports, however, provided a different timeline. The ambulance was called at 4:54 p.m., arrived at 5:02, and police arrived at 5:12 – and Lamb was already gone when police arrived. That’s way less than the 30 minutes he claims he waited at the scene.  Regardless, under NY law, a driver involved in a personal injury crash is prohibited from leaving the scene until the police arrival no matter how long it takes for the police to arrive.

A plea deal was struck in Pittsford Town Court on Dec. 6. Prosecutors wanted Lamb to perform community service and write a letter of apology to Julian, and Lamb wanted the charge dismissed.

Town Justice John Bernacki rejected community service, citing Lamb’s age and physical condition – despite the fact that Lamb was playing golf prior to the crash.

Judge Bernacki agreed to dismiss the charge if Lamb wrote an apology to Julian, but it was Lamb’s “apology” letter that hurt Julian more than the collision with the Range Rover.

The letter:

Dear Julian,

I’m very sorry that you rode into the side of the car I was driving on Friday, September 7th. More importantly, I am glad you didn’t need to be treated by the attending ambulance on the day of the incident. Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season. Sincerely, Doug Lamb.

Julian’s response? “I was angry, really angry, actually. I was really upset with it.”

Julian provided the reporter with his recollection of the “incident”: “He accused me of riding into the side of his car, which didn’t really happen. He came up from behind me.”

The Lamb case was “adjourned in contemplation of dismissal” (ACD) on the condition that Lamb write an apology letter. So the question now for the town justice is: Was the non-apology letter enough to dismiss the charge?

The newspaper columnist who wrote the story said what Lamb wrote “was an insult to the court. The court deserves better, and so does Julian.”  I wholeheartedly agree.

As the columnist pointed out, the 10-year-old accepted responsibility for his part in the collision but the adult driver refused to accept responsibility for running over a bicyclist.

The court has six months to reconsider the dismissal.  A hearing is scheduled this week in town court to discuss the case.

Will justice finally be served?  Let’s hope so……

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

 

 

 

 

 

City Of Elmira Is Latest Community To Welcome LimeBikes, Says NY and PA Bicycle Law Lawyer

The City of Elmira is going Lime, too.

The city will soon have ride-sharing bikes and electric scooters from LimeBike, a ride-sharing company that people will be able to access from their smartphones and other ways. Watch for more details soon in the local news media now that Elmira City Council this week cleared the way for the popular ride-sharing company to hit the streets.

We’ll see the lime green bikes popping up soon, perhaps even this month. LimeBike is already in Watkins Glen, Montour Falls, and Ithaca. I wrote about the arrival of LimeBike in Watkins Glen here.

As THE bicycle law expert in Upstate NY, the Star-Gazette called me this week to comment for a story that was on the front page (photo at left).

I told the reporter that, as a longtime Bike Law lawyer, cycling enthusiast and racer, I love any program that gets more people on two wheels on our roadways.

More riders means less congestion of vehicles, a healthier population in general, and I hope, when people get back in their vehicles after LimeBiking, they will be more tolerant and patient with cyclists and approach us with respect and a willingness to share the road safely.

Here are my comments to the Star-Gazette:

  • “The statistics are that the more bikes in an area, the safer it is for all bicyclists. People get used to seeing bikes, and become more vigilant and on the lookout for bikes.”

  • “In Europe, where bikes are everywhere, the (accident) statistics are lower. Most advocacy groups look at rental bikes and say, ‘This is a good thing.’ It’s great for the environment, great for downtowns, but as a bike accident lawyer, I don’t want to see more people hurt on bikes. If it contributes to bicycle safety in our community, that’s a good thing.”

Watkins Glen Village Trustee Laurie DeNardo told the Star-Gazette that the village has been happy with LimeBikes this summer. The village had 4,000 LimeBikers travel 8,200 miles from May through Oct. 1, she said.

I think the folks in Elmira will be excited to become LimeBikers, but before those LimeBikers unlock a bike for their first ride, keep these vehicle and bike laws in mind:

  • Bicycles have the legal right to ride in the road and even have the right to use the full lane when turning left or when it would otherwise be unsafe to ride to the right of the road.
  • Riders 14 and younger must wear a helmet. I recommend a helmet for all cyclists.
  • At this time, unlike some other local cities, Watkins does not have a law prohibiting bicycles from riding on the sidewalk, so legally, bikes may be operated on sidewalks. However, both bicyclists and pedestrians sharing the sidewalks must be respectful of one another and should walk/ride safely so they don’t endanger others.
  • Motorists are legally required to treat a bicyclist like any other vehicle (i.e.. yield the right of way to a bicyclist already within an intersection, yield to a bicyclist coming toward you if you are making a left turn across their path).
  • Motorists need to observe a “safe passing distance” when passing a bicyclist.

Motorists and cyclists need to look out for one another and observe the local and state laws in place to ensure that LImeBikers, and all cyclists, have an enjoyable and safe ride.

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

 

Explore Scenic Ithaca Area Using Teen’s Great Cycling Routes Website

Willem van Osselaer

Willem van Osselaer was a senior at Ithaca High School when he developed a great online tool for bicyclists in the Ithaca area.

Willem, who will soon be a freshman at Cornell University, created Ithaca Cycling Routes as part of an experiential English class during his senior year. The site guides riders through some of the Ithaca area’s most beautiful road cycling routes.

Armin Heurich

“Willem developed the site over the course of five months and went way above and beyond course requirements to create a resource that will be valuable to visitors to Ithaca, new cyclists, and experienced local cyclists,” said Armin Heurich, a library media specialist at the high school and president of the Finger Lakes Cycling Club (FLCC). “The website is a labor of love and  a treasure.”

The site as constructed by Willem, a coordinator of youth cycling at FLCC, is simple to navigate. There is a link to the 12 routes – Find your route! – on the home page, as well as a map to East Hill Plaza, a starting point for most of the rides because it serves as a meeting spot for local bicyclists, and there is plenty of parking there. Many FLCC rides start there, Willem said.

Once visitors click through to the routes, they’ll see a wide variety of distances from the 3.2-mile Cayuga Waterfront Trail to the 75.1-mile Owasco Lake ride, with other distances ranging from 8.4 miles to 51.3 miles.

Willem gives two options on the all-flat Cayuga Waterfront Trail, a 3.2-mile, one-way version, and a downtown loop that is 5.1 miles. He also notes: “This is also the only route you will find on this website that is completely flat!”

With each route, there are:

  • Maps and distances in miles and kilometers, as well as notes on elevation gains and major climbs.
  • Notes on food stops and points of interest.
  • Conversational descriptions, overviews, and observations on traffic, scenery, and hills.
  • Turn-by-turn directions.

Willem likes to ride about 70 miles a week during the summer, so you might meet him on one of his bike routes.

“The main reason why I bike is to talk to people,” Willem said. “Cycling is the main way I spend time with friends, and I have met many people through this sport.

“What sets cycling apart from other sports is that it allows people to explore and get a sense of their surroundings. I love observing the Ithaca countryside and experiencing its geography.”

His favorite short route? Mount Pleasant (15 miles), because it’s the closest challenging hill to his house. “The lack of trees and the observatory at the summit make it feel like you climbed a true mountain.

His favorite long route? Weltonville (51.3 miles), which has “gorgeous views,” he said. “Many roads provide an almost constant view of the hillsides around you. During the fall, the foliage makes this route even more stunning.”

Willem, who will be a student this fall at Cornell’s College of Architecture, Art and Planning, is proud of what he’s accomplished, and rightly so. “My goal was not just to complete the class requirements, but also to create a quality end product. “

He wanted the website to be his best work, he said. “I knew that the more hours I spent on the website, the more useful it would be to cyclists.”

I hope cyclists who meet Willem along his routes will thank him for this great website!

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

Carbon Fiber Bikes and Components: Great or a ticking time bomb?

It’s worth reading a great new article by Eric Barton in Outside magazine, “Why Carbon Fiber Bikes Are Failing,” because he writes a balanced account about what’s happening with these bikes. There are more and more lawsuits nationwide every day because of components failing on aging bikes, poor quality production, and more.

I talk in the story about my experience with the bikes as a lawyer and avid cyclist. But don’t read it just to see what I have to say – the story captures the joys and dangers  of owning carbon fiber bikes. It’s important reading for all cyclists, whether you own a carbon fiber bike or are thinking of buying one. (It’s also a good reminder for any bike owner to inspect their bikes often for the early signs of trouble before a crash sends them tumbling into the street, often with catastrophic consequences.)

I own two carbon-fiber bikes: a Trek Madone road bike and a Giant mountain bike because I love riding lightweight bikes. And I have also represented two carbon fiber bike owners who suffered catastrophic injuries in crashes where carbon fiber components failed, and have heard of many other similar cases because I am a Bike Law lawyer in New York.

Carbon fiber is not always a dangerous material for bikes. If manufactured properly and professionally inspected for wear and tear, carbon bikes and components can be safe. But this is the problem: not all carbon fiber bike makers and component makers have the necessary high production standards, and many owners can’t tell when key parts are in danger of failing because they are not able to do the kind of inspection professionals can do.  It is the hidden dangers of carbon that can bite you…..

So word to the wise….. have your carbon fiber bike and components regularly maintained and serviced by experienced bike mechanics who are trained to properly install components following manufacturer recommended torque settings and who can carefully inspect for early signs of carbon damage or failure.

This is what I had to say in the story:

Attorney James B. Reed is a New York state representative of Bike Law and has handled two lawsuits where clients suffered catastrophic injuries when carbon-fiber components failed below them. He has heard about numerous others from people on the Bike Law listserv.

Reed and other experts in carbon fiber agree that any material can fail. Wrecks happen from faulty aluminum, steel, and even rock-hard titanium. The difference with carbon fiber is that it can be difficult to detect signs of damage that might signal imminent failure. Cracks and dents in other materials are typically easy to see, but fissures in carbon fiber often hide beneath the paint. What’s worse is that when carbon fiber fails, it fails spectacularly. While other materials might simply buckle or bend, carbon fiber can shatter into pieces, sending riders flying into the road or trail. And this kind of catastrophic destruction can happen to any part of a bike made with the material.

“I’ve seen accidents from a whole range of carbon-fiber components—handlebars, forks, seatposts, entire frames,” Reed says. “As a lawyer, the question is, ‘What’s the cause of the failure?’”

Carbon fiber used to be used only in expensive bikes, but now it’s used in many bikes, and crashes that follow part failures are on the rise, and based on the court ruling in Illinois, more lawsuits are likely on the way related to carbon-fiber bike parts.

Lucas Elrath, a bicycle-accident expert for a forensic company in Philadelphia and the owner of a home-built carbon-fiber bike, had a few great quotes in the story worth noting:

“There’s an old saying in bike manufacturing: It can be lightweight, durable or cheap – pick two. A lot of these carbon-fiber components are lightweight and cheap, but they are not durable.”

“It’s completely reasonable for someone who wants a lightweight bike to look at carbon fiber, but they need to understand the risks. Absolutely this is getting ignored.”

Roman F. Beck, another bicycle-accident forensic expert, warns of the long-range implications of bike makers using carbon fiber material, including mountain bike companies, especially now that there are so many secondhand bikes on the market.

“As good as (many) frames are, what happens when someone rides five or 10 or 20 years from now? Mountain bikes take a lot of punishment, but nobody knows how long these frames will last in that environment.”

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

 

 

Friendly and Informative Dialogue Explores NY Traffic Laws For Motorists And Bicyclists

Bicycle Sidewalk 2

I recently received an email from a Twin Tiers resident concerned about bicyclists riding on sidewalks and on the wrong side of roadways. I was copied on the email that was sent to his mayor and police chief after the man almost struck a bicyclist riding on a sidewalk.

The man was turning right into a parking lot and a speeding bicyclist, the resident said, was riding on the wrong side of the street in his path to the parking lot. The bicyclist was on the sidewalk and behind a fence, so he was hard to see, the man said. The resident was able to stop before hitting the bicyclist.

The resident stopped by the police department and talked with officers, remarking that he was taught as a child to ride in the road – and ride on the right side of the road, with traffic.

He said two police officers told him that pedestrians (the bicyclist, in this case) always have the right of way, and police have no power to tell bicyclists where to ride on roadways.

ebike signThe man then correctly cited part of NY Vehicle and Traffic Law 1234 (regarding 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 ….

I sent this response to him:

Thanks for including me on your email. I am sorry I have to disagree with your statement “motorists would be blamed in every case of a collision with a bicyclist despite a bicyclist riding unsafely.”

As a lawyer who handles a significant number of bicycle crash lawsuits, I can tell you that the vast majority of time it is the cyclist, not the motorist, who is blamed for causing a collision. I can’t tell you the number of times I have had to prove that an accident report was erroneous in claiming the bicyclist was at fault when in fact the motorist violated the NY Vehicle and Traffic Law.

My feeling is that our laws should be applied equally to ALL users of our roads — motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians. Likewise, proper education is important for ALL users of our roads. Yes, I see bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists sometimes obeying the laws, sometimes violating the law, and accordingly, I think it’s important that we don’t jump to the conclusion that all bicyclists are bad or that all motorists are bad.

James-Reed-Ziff-Law-FirmI appreciate the fact that you are creating a dialogue about proper bicyclist/motorist behavior.  I regularly lecture on NY bike laws to law enforcement, and in fact, I recently lectured to the Steuben County Magistrates Association, where many of the 52 village and town justices in Steuben County were in attendance. If you or anyone in law enforcement ever have questions regarding NY bicycle laws, please let me know and I would be happy to offer my analysis.

Under NY law, you are correct that bicycles are supposed to ride in the same direction as vehicle traffic, not against traffic. And most NY municipalities have laws prohibiting bicyclists from riding on sidewalks if the rider is older than 12 years old.

And finally, although VTL 1234 does say a cyclist should ride to the right of the road when it is safe to do so, a bicyclist IS permitted to use the full travel lane when necessary to ride safely (i.e., when making a left turn or when parked cars, road debris or potholes make the right side of the roadway dangerous).

* * * * *

Fortunately, the police chief responded to the man’s email, too:

“I do not know what officers you talked with or when, but if they told you that bicyclists are somehow immune to the law, they were incorrect.

“You accurately cited one of the sections of the NYVTL that identifies the manner of which bicycles should be ridden.

“In addition to this, there are City Codes that further identify proper bicycle operation and restrictions to riding in certain areas, including the downtown area. Through our School Resource Officer, we try to educate children of their responsibilities when operating bicycles, and offer a program for free helmets for those children in need.

“By your letter, it is not clear to me the age of the bicyclist (child or adult), as this certainly factors into the options that are available to the officers. Regardless, with warmer weather upon us, there will be more cyclists out and about, making it  imperative that persons operating motor vehicles do such with due care and caution.

“I will be talking with my entire staff re an uptick of patrolling safe bicycle operations. If you need anything further, please feel free to call me.”

It’s great to see a police chief admit his officers made a mistake and that he plans to educate his employees and increase enforcement. For our roadways to be safer, everyone has to do their part – motorists, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians – and follow the laws. And always be mindful that there will be those who ignore the law.

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