Recently in California several members of a group of cyclists were injured when they were clipped by a truck that was trying to pass them. Nine cyclists were on a 30-mile group ride when the incident occurred. The driver of the truck apparently tried to pass the group by squeezing between the group and oncoming traffic. Cyclists and their bikes were scattered along the road after the truck mirror hit them and knocked them to the ground. According to California’s “safe passing” law, drivers have to be at least three feet away from a bicyclist when they pass them.

However, New Jersey is one of a few states, and the only state in the Northeast, that does not have a specific “safe passing” statute setting the minimum safe passing distance between a motor vehicle and a bicycle. While general rules of caution still apply, in the absence of a safe passing law, bicyclists on group rides, as well as motorists in New Jersey, should exercise extra caution and be sure to learn and follow the rules of the road.

Here are a few reminders about passing safety in New Jersey:

  • Cyclists should not ride more than 2 abreast and should revert to single-file when traffic is approaching from the rear.
  • Cyclists are generally required to ride to the right side of the travel lane, and should keep as far right as possible given the conditions and preserving their general safety.

As cyclists have the same general rights as a “motorist,” a car seeking to pass should treat them like a slow moving vehicle, abiding by the general rules for safe passing.

This is the third and final entry of my three part series on Bicycle Safety including information on reducing risk, types of injuries, insurance issues, liability, and litigation.

Bicyclists not only face a high risk of injuries in a crash, they must also wade through the inevitable confusion from the fall-out of the crash. What insurance source will cover the damage to the bicycle? Is there coverage for the lost wages? To whom do they turn to address their medical expenses? Unfortunately, there is not always a clear answer, as the facts and local insurance laws will vary widely. In order to find the answer, one must sift through all of the insurance sources which may provide coverage for the answer. In some instances, the car insurance for the at-fault driver may be responsible for all of the injured cyclist’s injuries and related damages. In others, there may be a mix of carriers to deal with. For instance, in a “no-fault” (a.k.a. “PIP”) state like New Jersey, the bicyclist’s insurance carrier will likely be responsible for paying for necessary medical bills and possibly some wage benefits, even if the cyclist bears no liability for the accident. If the cyclist is at fault (wholly or partially), they may still find coverage for the property damage to their bicycle and related gear through their homeowner’s insurance. And, depending on the facts of the crash, general liability (“non-auto”) policies may be implicated (such as for defects in the maintenance of a property creating a hazardous condition). Disability insurance should also be considered where available. And a number of companies are now offering various forms of “bicycle insurance,” which may be able to provide protection for some or all of the typical losses. In short, you must look at EVERYTHING.

Continue Reading Bicycle Safety Blog Series Part 3: Bike Crashes and Insurance

This is the second entry of my three part series on Bicycle Safety including information on reducing risk, types of injuries, insurance issues, liability, and litigation.

In our crowded urban environments, cyclists inevitably face significantly higher risks of crash-related deaths than would be faced by the occupant of a motor vehicle. How significant is the risk? Consider these statistics: despite the fact that only 1% of all trips in the United States are reportedly taken by bicycle, data from the CDC reveal that, in 2013 alone, over 900 bicyclists were killed, and an estimated 494,000 visits to the E.R. due to bicycle-related injuries. And data from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) indicates that 33% of bicycle crashes with motor vehicles resulted in serious injury or death.

While we often refer to them as “accidents”, a collision between a car and a bicyclist is usually anything but an “accident.” That is, they don’t “just happen”. To the contrary, most collisions occur because of poor decisions or careless actions, such as when a motorist fails to yield. As such, the term “crash” is generally a better word because it doesn’t remove the concept of accountability for what occurred. Unfortunately, in a car vs. bike crash, the solid object into which the cyclist “crashes” is either a 3500 lb. car or the unforgiving pavement. The result of a crash can be VERY severe and, all too often, the result is even life-altering.

Continue Reading Bicycle Safety Blog Series Part 2: Types of Injuries from Bike Crashes

This is the first entry of my three part series on Bicycle Safety including information on reducing risk, types of injuries, insurance issues, liability, and litigation.

There is always a risk of injury when a person is learning or competing in a sport. Bicyclists face a unique challenge however, as many of our risks come from sources which are EXTERNAL to their own conduct or the act of cycling. More specifically, these risks come from the cars traveling around us and the condition of the roadways and surroundings in which we ride. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) bicycle fact sheet, every year nearly 50,000 people are injured in accidents that involve both vehicles and bikes. About 13,000 of those injured are children.

The types of injuries from vehicle-vs-bicycle accidents can be very severe, running the gamut from hand and wrist injuries, to broken collar bones and ribs, and even traumatic brain injuries.Answering the question: “Who pays for these injuries?” can be complicated. For instance did you know that in some states a bicyclist in a car-bike accident will generally turn to his/her CAR insurance to pay for medical bills and related damages? In other states or different circumstances, a bicyclist may instead need to turn to his health insurance, or homeowners/renters insurance for coverage. A good rule of thumb is to speak proactively with your insurance agent or a bicycle accident lawyer, such as myself, about improving your coverage. Try focusing first on the actual coverages, rather than the price of the policy when you do so. You’ll thank me if you’re ever hurt due to the negligence of another.

Continue Reading Bicycle Safety Blog Series Part 1: How to Reduce the Risk of Bike Accidents

I learned recently that bicycling has increased by 60% over the past 15 years. Once considered an activity associated mainly with exercise or with leisurely rides on summer vacations, biking has become a commonplace mode of primary transportation for many people in cities and suburbs across the country. With this increase in usage, there has also been a marked increase in the number of serious collisions that have occurred involving bikes and motor vehicles as well as collisions that have occurred with bikes and pedestrians.

In this blog, I will focus on a recent case where a cyclist collided with a truck that was parked on a roadway.

Continue Reading Bicycle Accidents with Vehicles and Pedetrians

Bicyclists in urban areas are often forced to interact with motorists in close proximity, which creates safety conflicts and leads to thousands of injuries every year. For cyclists who ride cautiously and in compliance with the law, the cause of these accidents is generally due to the motorists’ lack of attention to cyclists and other pedestrians that are using their shared roadways.

Every year, new innovations are designed to increase the visibility of cyclists, or to otherwise improve a cyclist’s ability to interact with the urban environment. While the use of technology such as this is not a replacement for safe cycling habits and techniques, every little bit helps! Two devices which bear mention are the following:

  1. Zackees – These are riding gloves that include illuminated turn signals, which are designed to call motorists’ attention to a cyclist’s intent to turn. A cyclist’s visibility to motorists, particularly at night, is frequently cited as a contributing factor to collisions. Forward and rear facing lights, as well as reflectors, are generally required by law when using a bicycle at night.

However, the risk of collision is further increased when cyclists are required to cross the path of motorists or otherwise change course. The intent of illuminated cycling gloves is to increase visibility of the cyclist and to call specific attention to the intended turn in a manner motorists are accustomed to seeing while driving.

  1. Morpher Helmet – This is a collapsible bicycle helmet which folds flat when not in use. It should come as no surprise that wearing a helmet is by far one of the best things a cyclist can do to increase their personal safety while riding. In the state of New Jersey, the use of a helmet is required by law for all juveniles, but this varies across the country.

One of the principal reasons cyclists say they do not wear a helmet is due to the lack of portability. There is really no convenient place to put a big, bulky helmet when the bike is not in use, and this is particularly true amongst persons who use their bikes to commute. The collapsible helmet is designed to solve this problem by allowing the helmet to fold up for convenient storage in a bag, purse, briefcase, etc., when not in use.

For any questions about bicycle-related injuries, do not hesitate to contact experienced legal counsel. Ride safe.

Neck and shoulder stiffness and pain are a common complaint among cyclists. Many people incorrectly assume that this pain is the result of injury or is otherwise an inevitable result of the body position one takes while riding a traditional road bike.

Neither is necessarily true. Are you experiencing this type of pain? There are several possible answers, but none of them should be immediately brushed off. Your pain may be the result of your body’s fit in the seat of your bike, your overall core fitness and/or the position you assume—likely subconsciously—while riding. Luckily, all of these problems can be easily remedied.


  • For Bike Fit: A short visit to your local bike shop can be the answer. However, subtle adjustments can be hard to accomplish. If you have access to a GURU Dynamic Fit System, I highly recommend it. As the cyclist uses the software, the GURU program automatically adjusts the cyclist’s fit down to the millimeter. Here in the Mercer County area, you can find this incredible service offered through Hart’s Cyclery. Here is a link to the details of his custom fitting service.
  • For Core Fitness & Riding Position: Body2Bike wrote an excellent article that outlines common issues and provides fitness and positional techniques you can employ to resolve them. The article also includes photos as examples of the proper neck and shoulder posture a cyclist should have to avoid further pain. Check out the article here.

Remember, your relative fitness and muscular fatigue can contribute to your overall safety while cycling. Pay attention to them and stay safe!

For any questions bicycle-related injuries, do not hesitate to contact experienced legal counsel.

Bicycle tires should be changed when the tire wears out or otherwise becomes damaged, such that its integrity is compromised. Due to variations in environmental conditions, rubber compounds, individual weight/riding style and other such matters, it is impossible to give a very precise answer to this question. However, if you can answer “yes” to any of the following questions, chances are good that you should replace your tires:

  1. Can you see “threads” in any of the tread’s contact surfaces? Bicycle tires are generally made with layers of fabric and rubber, not unlike the “steel belts” in an automotive tire. If these become visible, your tread is too thin and the tire should be replaced.
  2. Do you have any visible holes, gashes, “bubbles” or cracks in the tire or its sidewalls? With age, use and exposure to debris, our tires become damaged. Defects can create weak spots which will pre-dispose the tire to failure.
  3. Are your tires flatting more frequently than usual? Flatting results from a combination of tread integrity/depth and environmental conditions. When one’s tires wear thin, they are more prone to flatting.
  4. Is there a wear indicator to suggest it’s time to replace the tire? Some, though not all, bicycle tires have “wear indicators” to alert the rider to the need for replacement. This may come in the form of a different color of rubber at a preset depth within the tread which becomes visible, or there may be grooves or dimples to indicate when the tire needs replacement.

It is important to remember that when it comes to maintaining your equipment and protecting your personal safety, do not skimp! If you have any doubt over the condition of your bike or your equipment, go to your local bike shop and have it inspected by a professional mechanic!

Bicyclists are always encouraged to purchase and wear bicycle helmets, but once you buy one, that’s not the end of the story.  Most helmet manufacturers and industry groups recommend replacing one’s bicycle helmet every 3-5 years, provided the helmet has not been subjected to a crash. However, if a helmet has served its role and defended your noggin from a crash, it should be replaced immediately!

With that said, it is important to note that the useful life of a bike helmet will vary depending on how it has been used and the types of materials to which the helmet has been exposed. A bicycle helmet isn’t one singular product.  The various glues, resins and other products used to make the helmet, break down over time.

Some industry groups point out that certain chemicals used in consumer products may also impact upon the useful life of a helmet. Examples cited by some include hair formulations and DEET, which is a chemical used in certain bug repellants that has been shown to degrade some plastics. One’s individual skin chemistry and their frequency of use are also thought to play a role in “wearing out” one’s helmet quicker than the average.

Alternately, other groups, such as the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute, a non-profit out of Washington State, argue that helmets have a longer life than industry groups suggest.

However, as a bicycle accident attorney and avid cyclist myself, I say, “Why take the chance?” Few pieces of gear are as important to your safety while riding as your helmet. They are readily available and fairly cheap, so why skimp?  Replace your helmet at least every 3-5 years, and any time following a bicycle accident.

More detailed information on this important topic can be found via the following links:

Ever wonder how pros competing in events like the Tour de France can spend 5+ hours in the saddle day-after-day? While part of it is certainly that they are elite athletes, they also have the benefit of working with coaches and other pros to insure their bikes fit the nuances of their body perfectly, and that their cycling form is spot on.

Pedaling Technique: Elite coaches preach the benefits of training to improve pedaling efficiency. Doing so will help you ride for longer with less fatigue and ensure you are maximizing the power from each pedal stroke into forward momentum. A key element of an efficient pedal stroke is to have correct riding position and cadence on your bike. Some elements are:

  • Keeping the knees in line with pedals (they should track straight up & down, like pistons);
  • Keeping the upper body stable (proper bike fit is key here)
  • Maintaining a high cadence (85-90+ is often cited as the sweet spot)

More information on improving your technique can be found here.

Bike Fit: Any bike shop can offer you a “fit,” but only one in Mercer County, to my knowledge, has the ability to do a dynamic “Pro-fit,” which will supply you with the ability to “feel” subtle changes in real time: Hart’s Cyclery in Pennington, NJ. I would recommend checking out their “GURU Bike Fit” service.

Skeptical? I was. That is, until I tried it. The tweaks Ross Hart, the shop’s owner, set up for me made a WORLD of difference. Overnight I was more comfortable, had better stamina on the road, and less overall muscle fatigue. Give Ross a call. You’ll be glad you did!