Sending a Message in San Francisco

by Rick Bernardi

In America, we like to imagine that our lives have value. That we count. That we are somebody. That, great or small, we have rights. It’s right there in our Declaration of Independence, after all: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

We also like to imagine that we are a nation of laws. And that we hold justice in deep regard. That our rights and our very lives are sacred and inviolable, and that if our rights are violated, that those responsible, great or small, will be brought to justice and held accountable for their actions. We imagine that we will have justice.

Well, that’s what they tell us, anyway. But none of that is true. Let me tell you about Amelie Le Moullac, and you will understand.

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Bicycling Under the Influence - Are You Breaking the Law?

Texas Bicycle Accident Lawyer: Can You Legally Drink and Bike?

By Charlie Thomas

As a bicycle accident attorney, I often find myself in conversations with bicyclists about whether riding under the influence is legal. This topic has recently gained steam, especially with the introduction of more bicycle lanes in urban areas (connecting residences to watering holes) and the growing popularity of pub crawls such as the monthly Critical Mass ride in Houston. The answer to whether pedaling under the influence is legal depends on each state’s respective DUI laws. This article addresses the issue in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

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Missouri Bike Crash Lawyer Speaks to Kansas City Womens Bike Summit

By Vance Preman

On May 10, 2014, BikeWalkKC sponsored its Women’s Bike Summit at the Ewing and Muriel Kaufman Foundation Center in Kansas City. Over 100 Women from different cycling tribes participated in the all-day event. Commuters, racers, tourers, and general enthusiasts created a diverse group. Bike Law Vance was a guest speaker and participated in a panel discussion on the topic of bicycle crashes. Flanked by a retired Kansas City police officer and an actual cycling accident victim (who bravely shared her story), Vance covered topics of prevention, preparation, avoidance, traffic court, claims procedure, and litigation. A lively question and answer period ensued.

The participants then went en mass to a ribbon cutting for a new bikestation hub at the Foundation. The day ended at the rooftop lounge and pool of the new Hotel Sorella on the Country Club Plaza.

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This article, Missouri Bike Crash Lawyer Speaks to Kansas City Women’s Bike Summit, was originally published on Bike Law on May 12, 2014.
 

Missouri Bicycle Accident Lawyer

Bike Accident Victim Hit By Car And Then Charged By The Police!

Maryland Bike Accident Lawyer on DC Area’s “Intersection of Doom”

By Peter Wilborn

Excellent article today in the Washington Post about Rosslyn’s “Intersection of Doom.” It accurately portrays a situation we deal with at Bike Law on a weekly basis: cyclist hit by a car, transported to the hospital, and presented with a traffic ticket by the police:

“Lindsey Kelley says she was biking through the crosswalk [ed: the correct place for her to be riding] at the intersection last Monday evening when she was hit by a gold sedan. The 23-year-old never spoke to the woman that hit her, but a man in a black SUV [ed: you can't make this stuff up, a black SUV!] stopped to reprimand her, she said, telling her that bikes should be on the sidewalk, that she came out of nowhere and that the crash was her fault. A U.S. Park Police officer asked whether she was hurt and needed an ambulance; she said yes.

She saw the officer again when he came to her hospital room and gave her a $70 ticket for “disregarding traffic signs or road markings.”

“He said, “Don’t get your blood pressure raised; here’s your ID and here’s your ticket. Now let me explain why I’m giving it to you,”” Kelley recalled. He said a witness [ed: remember the black SUV?] had told him that she was not in the crosswalk when she was hit. She protested, she said, and he told her that he had not been there to see the crash.”

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Do all Bicycles Weigh Fifty Pounds? Five Tips For Protecting Yourself From Bike Theft

by Bob Mionske

Have you heard that all bicycles weigh fifty pounds? It’s because a thirty-pound bicycle needs a twenty-pound lock, a forty-pound bicycle needs a ten-pound lock, and a fifty-pound bicycle doesn't need a lock at all. Well, maybe that was true before we had easy access to cargo bikes, e-bikes, and other heavy-duty bikes, but today?

And what about your sub-twenty pound bike? Do they even make a 30+ pound lock, or should you bring along a couple of 20 pounders, just to be safe? And doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose of having, you know, a lighter bike?

Well, it is just a quip. But in the arms race against bike thieves, it can seem true, with the strongest locks getting really hefty.

And even then, we’ve probably all seen the videos of a “bike thief” cutting locks with power tools in broad daylight, in full view of indifferent big city passers-by. So even with a couple of the strongest locks you can buy, what’s the point? Should you just resign yourself to the inevitable?

No. It’s actually not as bad as it can seem. Sure, up to 2 million bikes are stolen every year, with the annual haul from bike theft in the $50 million neighborhood (making the take from bike theft higher than the take from bank robbery, according to the FBI). But that doesn’t mean that your bike has to get stolen, or that you can’t take steps to protect yourself. In fact, with these five tips, it’s actually easy to protect yourself from bike theft.

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New Orleans Bike Accident Lawyer Profiled in Local Press

New Orleans Bicycle Attorney Charlie Thomas joined the Bike Law Network last week and has already gotten some love from the press.

Here is the New Orleans City Business Article about his practice and the growth in cycling there.

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This article, New Orleans Bike Accident Lawyer Profiled in Local Press, was originally published on Bike Law on May 8, 2014.

Louisiana Bicycle Accident Lawyer

Charleston Bicycle Accident Lawyer: Charleston wasn't designed for bike-loving college kids

By Peter Wilborn

Recently BikePortland.org wrote a blog post called 4 things U.S. college towns could teach planners about biking.

The post explains how biking is more popular in college towns like Davis, CA, Eugene, OR, and Boulder, CO because they are designed for it. And when you have a well designed city that encourages biking and walking, you have a safer and more popular place to live.

But Charleston was definitely not one of those college towns designed for biking. While the city has added some bike lanes to accommodate cycling, the roads are still not safe and the design does not make sense at all. Spend five minutes at the corner of St. Phillip Street and Calhoun Street and you’ll witness one of the most dangerous areas where there is no infrastructure yet tons of people (mostly college students) are walking, biking and skateboarding in every direction.

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Ciao, Milano

By Bob Mionske

What is it about a bike theft that brings out the incivility in us?

The same guy who is aghast at the thought of waterboarding willingly shares his bike thief torture fantasies on the internet.

Of course, it is probably just hyperbole in most cases, and even if you have a fantasy about beating someone, chances are you have never really been in a real fight. If you really managed to confront the thief, he is not likely going to be impressed with the fact that your fight record is an undefeated 1-0 because you stood up to that little bully Billy at day care 30 years ago, and it will give you cold comfort when facing someone who maybe be younger, bigger and stronger than you.

Or worse, crazier…

I sometimes wonder if these macho comments are simply braggadocio to get their bona fides in bikedom, a sort of street justice cred for a street rider.

I’ve been thinking about this, because it just happened to me.

Somebody grabbed my bike while I was distracted, and now the celeste-colored Bianchi café racer is gone. It's only worth a few hundred bucks, and it needed some serious servicing, but it also had emotional value to me.

I guess I should not have been so cavalier about not locking it. I went to buy Zookie some dog food, and would have been ok, if....

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Pop Quiz: Bike Theft



1. True or False: Bike theft is annoying to the victim, but overall is not a serious crime problem. That is why law enforcement agencies don’t devote many resources to fighting the problem.

2. Multiple Choice: Bike Theft is…
     a. A crime of opportunity.
     b. A way for “tweakers” to score some quick and easy drug money.
     c. The work of organized criminal gangs.
     d. All of the above.

3. True or False: All locks can be defeated, so it’s futile to try and lock your bike.

4. True or False: Bike theft is a relatively recent phenomenon, fueled by addiction to drugs and alcohol.

5. Multiple Choice: Bike thieves will take your bike…
     a. Only when nobody is around.
     b. After you have left it unattended.
     c. Even if it is locked.
     d. A and C.
     e. B and C.
     f. All of the above.

6. True or False: Protecting yourself from bike theft begins before your first ride.

7. True or False: All you can do to stop a bike thief is to buy a good lock and hope for the best.

8. True or False: If your bike is stolen and you find it later, you have the right to take it back.

9. True or False: If your bike is stolen, forget trying to contact the police. They are too busy with serious crimes to look for your bike.

10. True or False: In the “big picture,” bike theft is actually a good thing, for two reasons. First, economically-speaking, because it drives more bike sales when people replace their stolen bikes. And second, because it gets more people on bikes.

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The "Get Out Of Jail Free" Card Strikes Again

By Rick Bernardi

I’ve been car-free since 2002, when a teen driver slammed her daddy’s SUV into the back of my car, while I was stopped at a red light (The first words she said when she got out of her ute were “I’m such a bad driver, this is the second time I’ve done this.” The second words she said: “Oh my God, you’re bleeding!”). I guess she didn’t see the red light. Or me. Or the line of cars in front of me.

Or maybe she wasn't paying attention.

I didn’t plan on going car-free, but it worked out that way, and now it’s by choice. Sure, I’ve occasionally thought about getting a car, but when I add up the costs, I change my mind. But looking back, it’s hard to believe that it’s been so long since I last owned a car.

Anyway, I recently joined Zipcar. A friend needed a ride to an appointment that was two and a half hours away by bus, and while she doesn’t have a driver’s license, I still do (although I don’t own a car, I have driven occasionally over the past twelve years).

So I signed up for Zipcar, and there I was, behind the wheel again, driving my friend to her appointment. After dropping her off, I returned to Portland, and then later in the day, drove back to pick her up again. On the way, I noticed a cyclist riding in the bike lane. And it occurred to me as I was passing him, that it didn’t take any special effort at all to see him. I wasn’t intently looking for cyclists, I was just driving. And there he was, easy to see—all I had to do was pay a reasonable amount of attention to my driving, and I saw him.

I soon came to a stop light, stopped, and waited with everybody else. And while I was waiting, he must have passed me, because when I started up again, there he was ahead of me again. And once again, I hadn’t been making a special effort to “see” cyclists. I was just driving, paying a reasonable amount of attention, and there he was ahead of me, unexpected, but easy to see.

Amazing, isn’t it? Without making any special effort to look for cyclists, I nevertheless saw a cyclist ahead of me on the road. I was thinking about this on the drive to pick up my friend, because so many drivers who hit cyclists say “I didn’t see him,” or “He came out of nowhere,” or “He suddenly swerved into my path.” What they are really saying is “I wasn’t paying attention” or “I took unreasonable risks with the cyclist’s life, and he paid for it.” But they don’t want to say that, even quietly to themselves, because that would mean acknowledging that they are responsible for what happened to the cyclist. So they say the magic words “I didn’t see him,” and the rest of society, thinking “There but for the grace of God go I,” gives the driver a free pass.

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