Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Joining The Tribe. . .

Illinois Bicycle Accident LawyerFor many years I worked with a much older attorney who used to talk about the strength of numbers.  The way he used to do it was amusing.  He would describe a group of heavily armed soldiers in the old west peering out from the turrets of their high walled fort.  They felt safe because they were big, firmly entrenched, and well supported.  "If," he would say, "One of those soldiers peered over the wall and saw a single Indian glaring menacingly in his direction he would just think, Well, to hell with you." The old attorney would continue, "But, if the soldier looked across the way and saw a large number of Indians, organized and preparing to attack, well, then he knew he had a problem."

Our law firm is proud to announce that we have joined a tribe (of sorts) of attorneys committed to representing bicyclists nationwide, Bike Law USA.  Jim Freeman, myself and our committed staff have always been committed to representing bicyclists throughout Illinois. Now we will continue to do it with the support of a nationwide network of bicycle accident attorneys.  Mind you, Bike Law is no internet marketing gimmick.  We wouldn't bother with it if it was.  Bike Law is the brainchild of long time South Carolina bicycle attorney, Peter Wilborn, who has represented hundreds of bicyclists injured by motorists, dangerous road conditions and unsafe products.  He is a former bike racer and present bike enthusiast and commuter.  He is one of us.  He founded Bike Law as a means of bringing together lawyers committed to working with cyclists to unite in strength, to form a collective to fight for the rights of bicyclists.

Bike Law is also Ann Groninger in North Carolina, Amy Benner in Tennessee, Bryan Waldman in Michigan, Vance Preman in Missouri and Kansas, Charlie Thomas in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, Jason Crawford and Brian Weiss in Colorado, Jackie Carmichael in Utah and former U.S. Olympic cyclist, Bob Mionske in Oregon.   Each is a lawyer fighting for cyclists.

Each Bike Law attorney does more than just represent injured bicyclists.  They write about cycling and the law, and work to educate cyclists and motorists alike about making the road safe for all users.  Bob Mionske is the author of Bicycling & The Law, the go to book providing an overview of what the law is and how it has developed.  Freeman Kevenides Law is honored to be a part of this esteemed and committed group.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Powerful Video Encourages Road Users To Stay Calm and Share The Road

Recently, a journalist contacted me about a story he was writing about the (seemingly) increased vitriol between motorists and cyclists.  We spoke for a while about the matter, covering several recent incidents. The Craigslist letter.  The Washington Post anti-bicycle screed.  But the question he kept coming back with was, Why?  The only sensible answer I found that I good give was not much of an answer at all, I don't know.

We can speculate about numerous factors and perceptions that play into this war of sorts:  The infrastructure sucks.  Drivers are selfish, air polluting assholes.  Cyclists are entitled, law breaking dickweeds.  We can ponder whether there is even really a war between cyclists and drivers at all.  Many of us drive and bike and do not define ourselves by the mode of transportation we choose to utilize at a particular moment.  But the bottom line is that humans like to be able to travel safely, unmolested and unslowed.  When something, or someone, gets in the way of our ability to do so tempers flare.  It is probably not a biker thing or a driver thing.  It is a people thing.

Perhaps recognizing this Transport For London has created a PSA video that holds up a mirror to all road users, pointing out the madness that may ensue when tempers flair.  It is well done.  Check it out.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Visitation Tomorrow For 28 Year Old Chicago Cyclist Killed By Truck Driver

Barbara Eno,
courtesy DNAInfo
Visitation will be held on Tuesday for Barbara Eno, a 28 year old Chicago bicyclist who was killed on July 3rd by a right turning cement truck.  Her funeral will be held on Wednesday.  For information on times and location, please click here.

Barbara was riding her bike northbound on Cicero Avenue when the driver of a Kenworth W900 truck struck her as he turned from northbound Cicero Avenue onto eastbound Belmont Avenue in Chicago's, Portage Park neighborhood, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.  The collision occurred at around 10:00 a.m. as Barbara was riding along the right side of Cicero Avenue.  The driver apparently never saw the cyclist to his right as he made his turn.  He reportedly brought his truck to a halt after nearby witnesses screamed at him to stop, the Sun-Times reported.

This type of collision between a motor vehicle and bicyclist occurs with disturbing frequency.  It is so common that it has a name, "right-hook."  Because cyclists are required by law to travel along the right side of the roadway, they may find themselves cut off by a careless driver traveling in the same direction who attempt to turn right without looking for bicycle traffic.  All drivers own a duty of reasonable care to all roadway users, including people on bicycles.  For the right turning driver this duty requires:  (1)  Using a turn signal; (2)  Turning right from the right lane; and (3)  Looking right for bikes before starting to turn.  Click here to read more about avoiding right hook collisions.  There are red light and OEMC cameras located at the intersection of Cicero and Belmont so it is likely that investigators will be able to determine the cause of the crash.  As of July 4th, the 51 year old driver had not be arrested or issued a traffic citation, but right hook collisions in our experience are often caused by a driver's failure to look for bicycle traffic before turning.

Collisions between large trucks and cyclists are far too common, so much so that some cities are looking into how to provide increased protection to cyclists.  By the end of 2014, London will prohibit large trucks - those over 3.5 tons - from operating in the city without, "side guards to protect cyclists from being dragged under wheels, as well as mirrors to improve a driver's view of cyclists and pedestrians," according to The Guardian.  The measure was proposed in the wake of the deaths of several cyclists killed in London after being swept under the wheels of large trucks.  The measure will be enforced by on street checks and via closed circuit video cameras, The Guardian reports. There will reportedly be large fines for non-compliance.

There has been some interest in the United States for similar measures.  In 2008, the City of Portland adopted a resolution recommending that large trucks be fitted with side guards.  While not binding policy, at least some trucks operating in the City, including city owned vehicles, were outfitted with the guards.  Also, last year the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), published safety recommendations that included truck side guards.  It called for the development of,
[P]erformance standards for side underride protection systems for single-unit trucks with gross vehicle weight ratings over 10,000 pounds.
Once the performance standards . . . have been developed, require newly manufactured single-unit trucks with gross vehicle weight ratings over 10,000 pounds to be equipped with side underride protection systems meeting the performance standards.
The NTSB also recommended the installation of "visibility enhancement systems to compensate for blind spots" in order to protect bicyclists and pedestrians. The recommendations came on the heels of a NTSB safety study, Crashes Involving Single-Unit Trucks that Resulted in Injuries and Deathswhich found injuries and fatalities to cyclists caused by turning heavy trucks a significant hazard.

Since 1998, large trucks in the United States have been required to have rear impact guards to protect motorists in the event of a rear end collision.  While some have questioned the overall effectiveness of the rear guards, there have been a reported reduction in fatalities since implementation of the requirement.  While it is not yet clear whether a side guard could have prevent Barbara Eno's death, it is the time to take similar measures to protect bicyclists by requiring large trucks to be outfitted with side guards.

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