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bicycle safety Archives | Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C.

Campaign to stop bicycle accidents among delivery riders underway

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Bicycle Accidents on Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Bicycle delivery riders are everywhere. They appear to ignore traffic rules, creating dangerous situations for drivers, pedestrians and themselves. They seldom wear helmets and ride on sidewalks or drive down one-way streets in the wrong direction. Bicycle accidents involving delivery riders are common.

The Department of Transportation is teaming up with Delivery.com to provide vests, helmets, bells and lights to 1,500 delivery riders in New York City. The city is also stepping up enforcement of existing bicycle laws and has sent inspection teams to 3,500 businesses in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The goal of both efforts: Safer streets for bicycle delivery riders.

Right now, the inspectors are as much about education as about enforcement. They explain the requirements to business owners and managers, describing required clothing and equipment, such as bells and lights. However, beginning in April, the city will begin to crack down on violators. Restaurants will be required to post bike safety rules in a prominent place; failure to do so will result in a fine of $250. Riders will need to carry identification cards with their names and the names of their employers.

The New York City Commission of Transportation, Jeanette Sadik-Kahn, said, “When it comes to safety, we mean business. Businesses that employ bike delivery people need to be up to speed on safety as they are with making speedy deliveries.”

One business owner believes that compliance with the bike safety rules will save money in the long run by reducing his insurance bills. Whether or not that actually happens remains to be seen. However, the Sadik-Kahn Transportation noted that 57 percent of businesses visited during the inspection blitz had already posted the required safety notifications.

Source: CBS New York, “New York City DOT Set To Crack Down Hard On Bicycle Delivery Riders,” Jan. 31, 2013.


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Safety tips for bike riders

By | Bicycle Accidents | No Comments

On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Bicycle Accidents on Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Bike riding has become commonplace in New York City, and is about to become more so as the bike share program develops. The city has invested significant amounts of money in bike lanes and other improvements to make New York a safer place to ride a bicycle. However, bicycle riders themselves should take steps to protect themselves from accidents and injuries.

A recent report by Boston radio station WBUR outlines safety tips that apply equally well in New York or wherever a bicycle is being ridden. Here is a summary:

Helmets

Don’t just wear a helmet, wear it properly. Keep the chin strap snug and don’t allow any air between the strap and the chin. A loose helmet is almost as bad as no helmet. Helmet use reduces the risk of head injury by 85 percent. Almost all bicyclists who died in accidents were not wearing helmets.


Visibility

Make sure that motor vehicle drivers see you. Wear a lime green or other florescent-colored jersey. Wear light colored clothing at night. Think about getting a white helmet for night riding. Have both a headlight and a tail light. You may wish to try the blinking lights that you can wear on your clothing, rather than installing lights on your bicycle. If you use the portable lights, make sure they are positioned correctly. If they are hidden, the lights don’t do any good.

Rear view mirror

Bike shops sell rear view mirrors that attach to glasses or helmets. These mirrors allow you to easily see cars and trucks trying to pass you.

Riders who adopt these practices are taking important steps to reduce their risk of injury. Won’t you do the same?

Source: CommonHealth, “Don’t Be A Bicycling Statistic: One Key Way To Stay Safer,” by David C. Holzman, Sep. 21, 2012.


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Businesses will be fined for delivery bike violations

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Bicycle Accidents on Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

The crackdown will begin on the Upper West Side in Manhattan, with officials from DOT’s new Outreach and Enforcement department scheduling informational visits to businesses that offer bicycle delivery service. The purpose of the visits will be to explain the regulations related to traffic, helmets, clothing and ID numbers. That’s the first phase of the intensified enforcement.

The second phase begins in six months, when DOT officials begin fining businesses whose bike delivery riders violate traffic laws or are not supplied with required equipment. Businesses can expect to pay up to $300 for violations.

Increased enforcement of delivery rider violations is part of the city’s overall focus on dangerous bikers. In 2010, there were 3,874 citations issued; in 2011, there were 14,392. This could easily rise with the implementation of the city’s new approach to dangerous delivery riders.

Some business owners think that the fines are unfair and that the riders themselves should be penalized for violations. However, residents on the Upper West Side seem to approve of any efforts to stop delivery people from riding on sidewalks, running red lights and riding the wrong way in traffic.

Source: New York Daily News, “NYC cracks down on bike delivery guys,” by Khalea Underwood and Larry McShane, July 13, 2012.


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Bike safety: Will helmets become mandatory in New York?

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Bicycle Accidents on Thursday, June 7th, 2012

More people are biking in New York because of the city’s efforts to provide bike trails, bike lanes, and bike share programs. However, more riders means more bike accidents and injuries, something that City Councilman David Greenfield would like the council to address. He has introduced a bill that requires all bike riders in the city to wear helmets. Currently, only bike riders under age 14 and bike delivery personnel are required to wear helmets.

“Helmets save lives, plain and simple. It is common sense, but we still have far too many people biking around the city without a helmet. This law will help protect cyclists and will prevent serious injuries and deaths,” said Councilman Greenfield.

Bike helmets can reduce the risk of life-altering or fatal head injuries by more than 60 percent. Head injuries account for approximately one-third of all emergency room visits by bicycle riders.

The proposed legislation covers riders on all public streets and city park land. A violator would be required to pay a $25 fine for the first offense, and $50 for the second violation within one year. The penalty would increase to $100 for a third offense in two years.

“This legislation is not about punishing cyclists, it’s about encouraging them to ride safely. Helmets are cheap, light and literally save lives. This law is long overdue and will help reduce the number of cyclists who visit local emergency rooms or are hospitalized as a result of injuries sustained while not wearing a helmet,” said Greenfield.

Source: Bensonhurst Bean,” Councilman David Greenfield Introduces Law Requiring Use Of Helmets For City Cyclists,” by Laura Vladimirova, June 1, 2012.


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Injury Waiting to Happen? Hazards on the Shore Parkway Bike Path

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Personal Injury on Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

New York City has made great strides in recent years, installing bike paths and trails, sponsoring events and making New York a more bike-friendly place. The city has constructed more than 100 miles of greenways in recent years and there are at least 200 miles of bike lanes on city streets, and the numbers are growing.

With growth in bike riding as a form of transportation and recreation comes the need to maintain trails and lanes to preent bicycle accidents and keep riders safe. Unfortunately, the city does not seem to have been as enthusiastic about maintenance as it has about headline-making openings and additions to bicycle riding. The result is unsafe bike trials that can lead to injury or death.

One unsafe bike trail is the Shore Parkway Path in Brooklyn. A recent ride along the East River revealed numerous unsafe conditions that could easily be corrected. The photos here illustrate the problems that a rider encounters when cycling along this trail.

Sand

First, there are numerous patches of sand that represent a serious hazards to bikers. Suddenly encountering large amounts of sand can send a bicycle into a skid, throwing the rider and injuring other bicyclists and pedestrians.

Potholes

One would think that potholes are easier to repair on bike paths than on city streets. However, there are large potholes on the Shore Parkway bike trail that represent a significant hazard to bike riders, especially when they are not able to see them in time to take evasive action.

Sinkholes

Sinkholes on the path represent another, and much higher, level of danger to bicyclists. This photo shows a sinkhole that was previously repaired but has now opened up again.

The City of New York has made significant payments to injured cyclists because of potholes and sinkholes – by some estimates, the city paid out $3.8 million because of injuries caused by poor maintenance between 2005 and 2010.

Source: New York Daily News, “City has paid $3.8M since 2005 in lawsuits where bicyclists were injured, killed from bad roads,” Oct. 12, 2010.


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More bike paths in New York City — good and bad?

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Bicycle Accidents on Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

New York is catching up with other cities such as Portland, Minneapolis and San Francisco, and has added hundreds of miles of bike lanes and trails in the past few years. Since 2006, more than 250 miles of bike lanes have been added to New York City streets, according to the city’s Department of Transportation. In 2012, 10.8 miles are scheduled for completion. In addition, the city is a key player in the development of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway project that will create a 14-mile pedestrian and bicycle path around Brooklyn’s waterfront.

Brooklyn is not the only borough in New York where bike transport has expanded. Construction of a 10.6 mile Queens bike and pedestrian trail has begun, with the section in Queensbridge already completed.

Bike paths and lanes exist to protect riders and reduce accidents between bicycles and drivers of motor vehicles. In addition to safety, the existence of bicycle paths also promotes more riding, which in turn leads to a healthier population. Bicycles are an environmentally-friendly and inexpensive method of transport – in fact, bikes are the most common form of transportation in the world. In short, there is every reason for civic leaders to promote the construction of bike lanes and paths.

However, like any other type of infrastructure, bike lanes and paths need to be maintained. Over the years, several paths have made the news because of the dangers they pose to riders and pedestrians. For example, the dangers of the City Hall bike path in lower Manhattan were the subject of citizen protests and requests for closure in 2010.  And for bike lanes to function as intended, everyone — bikers, pedestrians and motorists — need to obey the rules. 

Check this website periodically for more updates on dangerous bike paths in New York City.

Source: New York Daily News, “Pedestrian and cycle path slated for western Queens waterfront,” May 4, 2012.


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Safety Tips to Prevent Dooring

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Personal Injury on Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

In the bicycle community, the accident that occurs when a vehicle door suddenly opens in the path of a bicycle rider is known as “dooring.” Some also use the phrase “door prize” in reference to these types of bicycle accidents. Such accidents occur in every large city, and New York is not immune.

A woman was convicted of driving on a suspended license by a jury in Brooklyn state Supreme Court. The prosecutor charged that she had driven from her home on Staten Island to Prospect Park after having had her license suspended. She opened the parked car door, hitting Jasmine Herron and throwing her into the path of an MTA bus. The driver was originally charged with leaving the scene of an accident, but the charge was later dismissed because her car was not moving – a requirement of the law.

How can urban bike riders protect themselves against dooring accidents? How can city drivers ensure that they do not “door” a bicyclist? Here are some tips:

Drivers: When you park on a city street, open the car door with your right hand. This will force you to turn around and you will be able to see whether a cyclist is in the path of your door.

Riders: If you see a car door opening ahead of you, look behind you before swerving into the next lane. Having a rear view mirror on your bike or helmet can make this much easier.

Riders: Ride in the traffic lane rather than the bike lane. This will distance you from the parked cars that could be sources of injury. The rule of thumb is that you should be at least five feet away from parked cars.

Riders: Have a headlight for riding at night so that drivers in parked cars can see you.

Source: New York Post, “Car door bus death gal guilty,” by William J. Gorta, Feb. 22, 2012.


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Bike Lanes: Do They Improve Pedestrian Safety?

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Uncategorized on Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

The improvement of bike lanes on Oriental Boulevard in the Manhattan Beach section of Brooklyn has infuriated local residents, even though the New York City Department of Transportation believes that the new signs are simply replacements of existing signs that will reduce pedestrian accidents and improve rider safety.

Civic leaders have complained about the bike lanes for several years, saying that speeding drivers often ignore the lines. They have urged the DOT to move the bike lanes to Shore Boulevard, leaving Oriental Boulevard to motor vehicles. They say that the new signage indicates that the DOT has ignored their proposals and intends to keep the bike lanes on Oriental Boulevard.

The community is very concerned about speeding, and believes that the existence of bike lanes simply encourages scofflaws. A four-year old boy was killed last year on Oriental Boulevard by a speeding driver.

The DOT says that the installation of bike lanes has reduced bike and pedestrian accidents city-wide. The agency cites its recent Pedestrian Safety Report and Action Plan, which indicates that streets with marked bikes lanes are 40 percent safer for pedestrians.

Source:Sheepshead Bites, “DOT Installs Bike Lane Signs On Oriental Blvd, Infuriating Manhattan Beach Civics“, by Randy Rojas, Jan. 9, 2012.


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Bicycle Safety – A Two-Way Street

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On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Personal Injury on Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

To a large extent, bicyclists are at the mercy of cars and other vehicles around them. An errant turn without looking, a change in lanes without checking for bikers, and plain old negligence – all of these driver errors contribute to thousands of bicycle accidents every year.

While most approaching the topic of bicyclist safety focus their questions on irresponsible drivers, bicycle safety is a two-way street.

The largest bicycle complaint from most drivers is that bicyclists simply do not follow traffic laws. To some extent, at least, this is a fair point. For example, many bicyclists run stop signs.

Not all bicyclists do this, and not all bicyclists run stop signs all the time. However, it does happen often. While it is a driver’s responsibility to treat bicycles as equally-valid road vehicles, it is also incumbent upon bicyclists to respect the rules of the road,

Even if you have only ever run stop signs when there is, literally, no one in sight, you are technically breaking the law. If you get too used to doing so, you might find yourself running a stop sign at a time when a car is approaching.

Other bicycle safety tips are:

  • Always wear a helmet.
  • Wear reflective clothing, or, at the least, do not wear dark clothing if you are going to be biking at night.
  • Utilize a light, or lights, on your bike if biking in the dark.
  • Use proper hand signals to notify drivers around you that you are turning right or left.

Bicycle safety is a two-way street. Driver recognition has a lot of room to grow before the roads are completely safe for bicyclists. However, bikers can do a lot to protect themselves and should take the opportunity to do so whenever possible.


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Safe Biking on New York’s Busy Streets

By | Traumatic Brain Injury | No Comments

On behalf of of Kahn Gordon Timko & Rodriques P.C. posted in Traumatic Brain Injury on Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Alex Burin had an interesting take on New York bicycle law today, tackling the question of “bells vs. helmets” on the Albany Times Union’s Bike Blog. The short of it is this: Under New York law, all bicyclists are required to have bells installed on their bikes and in working order.

The goal of such a law, assumedly, would be to warn pedestrians, skaters and perhaps even other bicyclists of your approach.

However, as Burin points out, most people do not immediately associate the sound of a bike’s bell with impending danger. Car drivers, especially, will like as not even hear the bell, and it is doubtful that ringing it will provide any measurable degree of added safety.

His point?

The point of his piece centered on another facet of New York bicycle law or, rather, a missing facet of New York bicycle law. In New York, and any state, really, it is not required that cyclists wear safety helmets.

Both helmet and bell are meant to protect you from an accident, but only one will actually protect you should an accident occur on the road. As Burin points out, a choice between the two seems obvious. Never mind the risk of traumatic brain injury, scarring and time spent recovering from a particularly nasty fall.

What makes you feel safer – a little bell on the front of your bike or an inch of protective foam between your head and the road?

There are many things cyclists can do to ensure that their ride is safer, but wearing a helmet stands out as the clear number one.

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