I live, work and ride in New York State and Pennsylvania. As the calendar turns to September, that means the construction season is starting to wrap up. As bikers, we are aware of the many dangers posed by work sites. Everything from rocks falling from construction vehicle, grooved pavement, uneven lane heights and the general congestion surrounding these areas poses a greater risk to us than the cagers these areas are designed for. One danger I never thought of, though, was the danger that freshly painted road lines pose to bikers.
Unfortunately, I became aware of this danger from a recent client of mine. He was on his way to work on his bike, taking the same route he does every day. The only difference was that road crews had repainted the cross walk lines earlier in the day. As he made a right hand turn at this intersection, his rear tire slid out and down he went with his bike on top of him. He was going slow enough that he didn’t slide into the oncoming lane of traffic and the woman behind him was far enough back that she had plenty of room to stop. Despite all that, my client still suffered internal derangement of his knee and a broken pelvis.
As my client laid in the road waiting for the ambulance to get there he was looking around trying to figure out what happened. As he lay there, he noticed what looked like tiny glass beads in the road. As he looked, he noticed more and more of it, especially in the area of the cross walk.
After my firm was retained, we investigated the accident. We found that when the road and intersection marking are repainted, they drop reflective glass beads onto the wet paint as part of the painting process. This is what makes the road lines glow at night when our headlights hit them. The problem is that these tiny glass beads that aren’t sealed in by the road paint form an extremely slippery surface on top of the pavement, similar to the hazard posed by sand on the road.
When we deposed the owner of the painting company he freely admitted that the glass beads not sealed into the paint posed a greater risk to bikers than to other cars, that he was aware of that risk, and that he expected his employees to sweep up the excess glass beads before they left a work area. In this case, it seems the work crews didn’t do what they were supposed to do, and my client suffered the consequences.
So, as construction season winds down we will see more and more road painting crews out as they finish off their projects. Watch out for road painters! Remember that they are dropping little glass beads on our roads that pose a danger to us. Even when responsible painting companies require their employees to clean up the excess beads they don’t always do it.
I have seen crews in the City of Elmira repainting crosswalk lines recently, and those beads are slippery! Even knowing all about this problem, my foot almost slid out when I put it down at intersection.
Thanks for reading, and ride safe!
ZiffLaw Attorney, Esq.
NY and PA Injury and Accident Attorney
The Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, NY 14901