My heart goes out today to the family of a Lansing bicyclist who was struck and killed by a motorist early Wednesday morning in the town of Ithaca.
As the weather continues to heat up and schools close for the summer, we’ll see more bicyclists of all ages take to our roads. And sadly, we’ll read about more people like 49-year-old Harriet Giannelis, who was riding her bike on Warren Road at about 7:20 a.m. Wednesday when Kelly A. Elliot, 38, of Alpine, struck Giannelis as Elliot was leaving the BorgWarner parking lot and merging onto Warren Road.
Giannelis was treated at the scene but pronounced dead at the Cayuga Medical Center in Ithaca, the Ithaca Journal reported.
The investigation continues, but here are some general observations:
As a local lawyer who sadly has handled too many cycling fatality cases and a board member of the New York Bicycling Coalition, I know that too many motorists do not understand the need to yield the right of way to any cyclist, as they would any other vehicle.
Under New York State law, a bicycle is considered a “vehicle,” which means that the cyclist has the same rights to use the road as any other vehicle.
In this accident, traffic exiting the Borg Warner parking lot would be required by law to yield the right of way to other vehicles, INCLUDING BICYCLISTS, on Warren Road. Here is a a provision from our state Vehicle and Traffic Law to keep in mind:
VTL 1143: The driver of a vehicle about to enter or cross a roadway from any other place other than the roadway shall yield the right of way to all vehicles approaching on the roadway to be entered or crossed.
Drivers should also pay attention to VTL 1146: Drivers of vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any bicyclist …. The first violation for motorists is a Traffic Infraction, but if there are additional accidents in the next five years, the motorist, if convicted, could face a Class B Misdemeanor charge and a $1,000 fine and other penalties are possible.
With summer here and more cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians on the road, it is very important that all of us be careful while driving and riding our bikes and that we be mutually respectful so hopefully a tragedy like this won’t occur out there.
Please be safe out there this summer!
Thanks for reading!