Nighttime riding is so much more dangerous than daylight trips due to the obvious difficulty of being seen by drivers of other vehicles. Add in factors such as glare from headlights, wet roads, inexperienced drivers, distracted drivers, drivers tired after a long day at work and congested roadways and the danger multiplies. If you ride after dark, you know you should wear reflective clothing, helmets and equipment. Unfortunately, most of us prefer not to do this.

Just recently, I came across a reflective spray product called Albedo100. While I have not yet tried it, it seems like a great product that I thought was worth sharing. Albedo100 is a series of four different sprays for different uses. One spray is said to be a “permanent light-reflective spray, suitable for applying to metal, wood, concrete and plastic.” A second spray is colorless and invisible. It reflects light and is suitable for applying to clothing. It is non-permanent and disappears when washed. You can spray it on your gear and it’s invisible by daylight but reflective at night. A third spray has a pale gray color and is light reflective and used on sneakers or such. It also disappears when washed. The fourth product is a “semi-transparent light reflective spray for applying to fur.” It may be invisible on some animals and also disappears when washed. Volvo automobiles has a short video of a product that they call “Lifepaint”. It is a safety ad filmed in London, England and focuses on bicyclists riding on very busy roads at night. The ad is selling safety and uses the Albedo100 product to do so.

Many of my clients were innocently riding, complying with all laws and wearing proper approved safety gear, but have been struck by careless drivers who didn’t see them. Recently, a client of mine was riding his bike to the store and proceeded through a green light when another driver turned left at the intersection striking him on his leg. His leg was shattered, and while it is is healing now, it will permanently be one inch shorter than his other leg. My client was fully compliant with the law but the other driver, for unknown reasons, didn’t see him. This is a perfect example of why riders need to go above and beyond to make themselves visible.

I am not sure these products are available in the US at this time. I checked Amazon and the product is listed but is currently “unavailable.” It does seem to be something we all should look into. I also have not found information on the safety of these products and recommend you research before using, but, anything that saves a life, which could be your own, is worth investigating.

Trek bicycles has issued a major recall related to the quick release mechanism affecting bicycles equipped with disc braking systems.  The recall states “An open quick release lever on the bicycle’s front wheel hub can come into contact with the front disc brake assembly, causing the front wheel to come to a sudden stop or separate from the bicycle, posing a risk of injury to the rider”.  Obviously, this is a very serious injury risk and has reportedly resulted in several injuries, including at least one instance of quadriplegia.

The concern reportedly involves bicycles manufactured from 2000-2015.  Due to the vast number of bicycles at issue, consumers are strongly encouraged to thoroughly explore whether their bicycle may be implicated in the recall. The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s report of the recall can be accessed here.

While the recall reportedly arises from the loose hub lever coming into contact with the disc brake, the simple release of the hub mechanism is something which would create a very real and substantial risk of an accident which should not be ignored.  As an avid cyclist and bicycle accident lawyer, I would encourage everyone who rides to routinely inspect and maintain their bikes, and to check any and all quick release mechanisms before every ride and after every rest period during a ride.  It’s quick, easy and can save your life.

If you, a loved one or friend has been hurt in a cycling-related accident, or if you have a question concerning cycling safety, my office is here to help.

Ride safely.

A recent report from the Governors Highway Safety Association points out some very disturbing statistics regarding fatal bicycle accidents. The GHSA represents state transportation safety agencies and this report, authored by Allan Williams, is a cause for concern among its member agencies. The most disturbing fact was the news that the number of US bicyclist killed in traffic accidents actually increased in 2011 and 2012. Fortunately, there is an overall decline in cycling fatalities stretching back into the 1970s. The report noted that 722 American cyclists died in motor vehicle crashes in 2012, an increase of 42 deaths over the 2011 statistics, and an increase of 101 over the 2010 reported cyclist deaths. This is an increase of 16% over those two years, and during that same time period, motor vehicle deaths increased by 1%.

The report found that most of the cyclist deaths considered  in the three-year period  of the study occurred in California, Florida, Texas, New York, Illinois and Michigan. The author concluded that the states are high population states with many urban areas, and the statistics likely reflect a high level of bicycle exposure and interaction with motor vehicles. The report supported this conclusion, finding that 69% of 2012 deaths occurred in urban areas, and more than one in three occurred at intersections.

Continue Reading Disturbing Statistics Regarding Bicycle Fatalities

“Dooring” events – crashes or other collisions triggered by a motorist opening their door into a cyclist or the cyclist’s path — are one of the more common collision events for cyclists in urban areas.  Often with devastating results.  As a bicycle accident lawyer, I’ve seen folks who have suffered catastrophic head injuries, shoulder injuries, neck injuries, etc., as a direct result of these incidents.  Unfortunately, the  cyclist is often without any means of preventing or avoiding these crash events.  Why?  Visibility and notice are the key problems.

Contrary to what many motorists (and jurors) may think, the cyclist usually has no warning that a “dooring” event is about to occur.   A cyclist’s ability to see into the passenger compartment of a parked vehicle is usually very limited, most commonly due to window tinting (present on most mini-vans and SUVs) or sun glare reflecting off of the vehicles’ windows.  Now, factor in the reality that cyclists are legally obligated to ride as far to the right side of the road/lane as possible in order to avoid obstructing the flow of traffic, and the recipe for disaster should be clear.  The easiest means to avoid these accidents is to place an obligation on motorists to look before they open their doors!  Why? Simple.  Unlike the approaching cyclist, a motorist has direct knowledge of their plan to open the door, has no impediments to their ability to see through their windows, and has the added benefit of being able to view the approach of the cyclist in their mirrors.The vast majority of States in the US have traffic statutes which address Dooring by imposing a duty on all drivers to verify they can safely open their car doors before they do so.  Unfortunately, New Jersey has no such statute.

As an avid cyclist and bicycle injury attorney in New Jersey, I think it is time for that to change.  I urge you to do your part by writing to your state legislators and seeking change.  Not sure who they are?  You can look them up here. For more information of “dooring” and a summary of the way this hazard is addressed across the United States, visit League of American Cyclists website.

You are probably aware that bicycles sold in the United States are required to meet certain design requirements set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).  But did you know that bicycles which are only intended for use by children have their own safety standards? Due to a variety of reasons, including developmental differences (such as lower hand strength and relative levels of coordination), safety requirements applicable to children’s bicycles may vary.

General Information – Children’s Bicycle Categories:  Bikes specifically designed for use by children are typically categorized by their wheel size (12”, 16”, etc.).  Bicycles with smaller wheels are targeted the children who will have lower relative strength and coordination and, as such, differing safety requirements under the CPSC guidelines.  For example:

Sidewalk Bikes:   The CPSC classifies bicycles as “sidewalk bikes” based upon size and features.  Typically these include “balance bikes” a/k/a “balance trainers” and bikes with 12-inch wheels.  Those with a seat height of less than 22” (in the lowest setting) need not have any brakes, so long as they do not have a “freewheeling feature” and are affixed with a permanent label which stated “no brakes”.  Those with a seat height in excess of 22” (in the lowest setting) must have a foot brake.  Reflectors are not required on sidewalk bikes, though they may be present on units available for sale.

Balance Bikes:  Also known as “balance trainers”, these bicycles have no drive system whatsoever and are propelled with the lower extremities or by the assistance of an adult.  The purpose of these bikes is to teach children (typically 18 months – 4 years of age) how to balance and steer.  They fall within the scope of the CPSC’s  ‘sidewalk bike’ classification, and thus are not required to have many standard bicycle safety features, such as brakes and reflectors.

Bikes with 12-Inch wheels:  Bicycles in this classification are intended as entry-level training bikes, and are targeted at children 3-4 years of age.  As with balance trainers, the CPSC classifies these bicycles as ‘sidewalk bikes’.  Bicycles with this wheel size are typically sold with training wheels and foot-operated coaster brakes. If sold with a chain drive, it must be shielded.

Bikes with 16-Inch wheels:  Bicycles in this class are intended for children ranging between 4-6 years.  They are required to have a chain guard which covers the top of the chain and 90⁰ of the portion of the front drive sprocket which makes contact with the chain.  These are often sold with training wheels, though there is no requirement that they be so equipped.  Brakes are required, but they may be found with either caliper brakes or a combination of a rear foot-operated coaster brake and a hand-operated front caliper brake.

Bikes with 20-Inch wheels:  Bicycles in this class are intended for children of at least 6 years of age, but may be marketed for use by much older individuals (e.g., BMX or “stunt” bikes).  This is typically the smallest format in which multi-speed gearing is available, though many are sold in a single speed BMX-style configurations.   Brakes are required, but they may be found with either caliper brakes or a combination of a rear foot-operated coaster brake and a hand-operated front caliper brake.  Chain guard requirements apply to single speed models.  This is the first bicycle size intended for use upon the roadways and thus, additional requirements are imposed for reflectors to enhance visibility at night.

Considerations for Brake Type

Coaster Brake (a/k/a Foot Brake) vs. Hand Brakes:  Coaster braking systems are incorporated into the hub of the bicycle’s rear wheel assembly and are actuated by applying reverse pressure on the front sprocket.  These systems are routinely found on bicycles targeted to the youngest individuals, as hand strength may not be sufficiently developed to permit the reliable use of hand brakes.  Hand brakes become appropriate as hand strength develops.  As a practical matter, a child’s level of coordination should also be considered when choosing braking systems.

More information on the CPSC’s requirements may be found here.

The CPSC may be contacted at (301) 504-7913 or via e-mail at: sect15@cpsc.gov.

On February 10, 2015, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued an announcement that Marin Mountain Bikes has issued a recall notice concerning approximately 450 units of its 2014 model MBX 50 and Tiny Trail boys and girls bicycles.  The bikes in question have 16” wheels and were intended for young children.  They were reportedly sold in stores nationwide between September, 2013 and December, 2014, and retailed for approximately $250.

The company provided this description of the defect at issue:  “The handlebars can loosen or separate during use. This can cause the rider to lose control and/or crash, posing the risk of injury.” Consumers are advised to immediately stop using the recalled bicycle and contact Marin for a replacement handlebar stem.

For more information, consumers can contact Marin Mountain Bikes at (800) 222-7557 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, Monday through Friday, or visit the company’s website at www.marinbikes.com  (click on “Recalls/Safety” for more information).

The CPSC notice, which contains a sample photo of the recalled bike, can be viewed here.

As a bicyclist and consumer safety advocate in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, I find myself regularly performing research and, in my travels today, I came across an announcement that UVEX, a major producer of bicycle helmets, has recalled several helmet models due to a risk that the chinstrap mechanism will fail.  In addition, the helmets involved in the recall also reportedly fail to comply with the impact requirements set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  The combined defects produce a significant risk for head injury.  The affected model numbers are “XB017, XB022, XB025, XB027, XB032, XB036 and XB038”

More information on the recall can be found through the CPSC website here.

While I am pleased that UVEX has announced this recall, the bigger question from my perspective is “How can a company produce, market and distribute a bicycle helmet which does not comply with the impact requirements set by the CPSC?”  It’s both shameful and amazing.

If you or anyone you know has been injured in a bicycle-related accident, my office is here to help. Contact Stark & Stark today for your free consultation.

A tragic news story out of Sacramento, CA serves as a reminder of the deadly consequences which can result from one’s decision to drive while under the influence.

According to local news reports, the California Highway Patrol advised that a cyclist and both occupants of an SUV were killed recently, when the driver of the vehicle drifted across 2 lanes and collided with a cyclist who was riding in a designated bicycle lane.  The cyclist was reportedly thrown approximately 100 feet from the point of impact, and was killed.  Witnesses reported seeing the Chevy Tahoe strike the cyclist from behind and then proceed to slam into a tree, killing both the driver of the Tahoe and the passenger.  While the accident happened in the early afternoon, around 2:30 pm, the driver is suspected to have been under the influence at the time of the crash.

While the facts of the accident alone serve as a chilling reminder of the dangers of drinking and driving, the consequences of an accident such as this can affect the perpetrator in ways you may not initially suspect.  How, you may ask?  Look to the Bankruptcy Code.  While most “negligence” claim gives rise to a “debt” (created by the legal claim or judgment) which is dischargeable in bankruptcy, there are some circumstances where the debt is not dischargeable.  Injuries which result from DWI are one example.  In the specific circumstance from this crash, this distinction may not be significant, as the driver was also killed.  But, if the driver had survived, the situation may have been very different.  In such an event, the financial damages to the survivors of those killed could be monumental and would almost certainly leave the driver with inadequate insurance coverage.  If the at fault driver were relatively young, she may well find her wages garnished for life and her savings gutted, all because she made the reckless and deadly decision to get behind the wheel of her car after drinking.

USDOT Secretary Anthony Foxx recently announced a new federal action plan, entitled “Safer People, Safer Streets” in response to recent data which have revealed that the incidence of cyclist and pedestrian fatalities caused by motor vehicle accidents is on the rise throughout the United States.  Speaking to the assembled crowd at the recent the Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place conference, Foxx was quoted as saying:

“This initiative is aimed at reversing the recent rise in deaths and injuries among the growing number of Americans who bicycle or walk to work, to reach public transportation and to other important destinations.”

The action plan will reportedly be rolled out over the course of the next 18 months, and commits numerous federal agencies, including the Federal Highway Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to the task of identifying the causes of bicycle and pedestrian crashes.  As part of the plan, these federal agencies will be required to work with local officials and advocates to identify and implement solutions geared toward reducing the incidence of injuries and fatalities amongst cyclists and pedestrians.

For more on this important safety initiative, visit the League of American Bicyclists.

 

 

The 6th annual “NJ Bike & Walk Summit” is now on calendar, and is set to be held on Saturday, February 21, 2015 at the Bloustein School of Rutgers University in New Brunswick.  In addition to its traditional project presentation formats, the coalition will reportedly now be hosting a series of “7 minute mini presentations” during its 2015 summit, and has issued a call for “presentations and panel sessions on bicycle and pedestrian related projects from townships, community organizations and government agencies.”

Anyone interested in submitting proposals for consideration may obtain a submission form here.