Thursday, March 16, 2017

How to Lock Your Bike

I have previously blogged about the proper method to lock your bike. To review that article, click here. If you're more of a visual person, please check out my youtube video showing how I lock my bike when I commute to work.   



Be safe out there and thanks for watching!


Matthew F. Dolfi, Esquire
Robb Leonard Mulvihill
BNY Mellon Center
500 Grant Street, Suite 2300
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219
412-281-5431

Website:
www.rlmlawfirm.com

Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/PghBikeLawyer


Important notice:
The information provided in this blog article is not legal advice.  The information and opinions provided herein are solely for the general interest of the visitors to this website.  The information contained herein is only applicable to general principles of law in Pennsylvania and may not reflect current legal developments or statutory changes in various other jurisdictions.  Therefore, the information and opinions contained in this blog should not be relied upon or interpreted as legal advice.  No aspect of this blog article should be interpreted as establishing an attorney-client relationship between the reader and its author.  Anyone reviewing this article should not act upon any information contained herein without first seeking the advice of legal counsel.  



Search terms: Bicycle accident cases and lawsuits, Bicycle collisions, Bicycle safety, Bike accident lawsuits, Bike accidents, Bike collisions, Risks for bicycle riders, accident attorney, accident lawyer, bicycle, bicycle accident laws, bicycle accident, bicycle accident attorney, bicycle risks, bicycle safety, bike accident, cycling, defective road conditions, dangerous roads, dangerous streets, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Matthew F. Dolfi, Matt Dolfi, Pittsburgh Bike Lawyer, Pittsburgh Bike Accident, lawyer-cyclist, The Lawyer Cyclist, dolfilaw, Dolfi law 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Is Riding Under the Influence Against the Law?

With the Super Bowl on the horizon, its important to know that, in Pennsylvania, riding a bicycle while intoxicated is treated nearly the same as driving while intoxicated. So you can be pulled over on your bike and cited for riding while intoxicated. You might even be charged with public intox, disorderly conduct, and a host of fines.

The Motor Vehicle Code states that if you're riding a bicycle (with no engine) upon the roadway, you are considered to be operating a "pedacycle," and a pedacycle is a "vehicle." But note that a bicycle is NOT a MOTOR vehicle. The distinction between a “vehicle” and “motor vehicle” is important because the operator of a pedacycle is subject to prosecution for “driving under the influence” of alcohol or other controlled substances. However, because a pedacycle is not a “motor vehicle,” the implied consent law (under which motor vehicle operators are deemed to have given consent to one or more chemical tests of breath, blood, or urine for the purpose of determining the alcoholic content of blood) is not applicable to cyclists. Also, evidence of the consumption of alcohol by a cyclist is inadmissible at trial as unfairly prejudicial, unless the evidence reasonably establishes intoxication. Evidence of intoxication for a cyclist includes, but is not limited to, objective criteria such as staggering, stumbling, slurred speech, or erratic operation of the bike.

If you're going to have a few drinks, its probably best to leave the bike chained up and call an Uber.

But keep in mind that a horse is not a vehicle! In the case of Noel v. Travis, Justice Eakin took some liberty with his dissenting opinion, arguing that the appellant should have been found guilty for riding a horse while intoxicated. He explained:

A horse is a horse, of course, of course,
And no one can talk to a horse of course
That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mr. Ed.

Go right to the source and ask the horse
He’ll give you the answer that you’ll endorse.
He’s always on a steady course. Talk to Mr. Ed.

A horse is a horse, of course, of course,
but the Vehicle Code does not divorce
its application from, perforce,
a steed, as my colleagues said.

“It’s not vague” I’ll say until I’m hoarse,
and whether a car, a truck or horse
this law applies with equal force,
and I’d reverse instead.
Because I cannot agree this statute is vague or ambiguous, I respectfully dissent.

Noel v. Travis, 857 A.2d 1283, 1289 (Pa. 2004).

Be safe out there and thanks for reading.


Matthew F. Dolfi, Esquire
Robb Leonard Mulvihill
BNY Mellon Center
500 Grant Street, Suite 2300
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219
412-281-5431

Website:
www.rlmlawfirm.com

Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/PghBikeLawyer


Important notice:
The information provided in this blog article is not legal advice.  The information and opinions provided herein are solely for the general interest of the visitors to this website.  The information contained herein is only applicable to general principles of law in Pennsylvania and may not reflect current legal developments or statutory changes in various other jurisdictions.  Therefore, the information and opinions contained in this blog should not be relied upon or interpreted as legal advice.  No aspect of this blog article should be interpreted as establishing an attorney-client relationship between the reader and its author.  Anyone reviewing this article should not act upon any information contained herein without first seeking the advice of legal counsel.  
 
  

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Illinois Lawmakers Recognize What Pennsylvanians Already Knew - Bicycles are Vehicles!


If you're riding a bike in Illinois, you can feel just a little bit safer because a new law, known as "Dennis's Law," will go into effect on January 1, 2017. Dennis's Law states, simply, that the traffic laws apply equally to cars and persons riding bicycles. Specifically, "every person riding a bicycle upon a highway shall be granted all of the rights ... and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this Code..." To see the text of the new code provision, click here.

The new law comes on the heels of a 2015 fatal accident in which 68-year-old Hampshire, Illinois, resident, Dennis Jurs, was killed in a collision with a vehicle. To read about the accident, click here.

The driver involved in the accident with Jurs was stopped at an intersection. The driver had a stop sign. Jurs was approaching the intersection on his bike and did not have a stop sign. The driver failed to yield to Jurs and proceeded through the intersection, striking Jurs, and killing him. The driver was issued a citation for failing to yield the right-of-way to Jurs. But, later, a Kane County judge dismissed the citation against the driver for failing to yield the right-of-way because - in Illinois - a bicycle was not considered to be a vehicle entitled to all of the rights of the road. 



Under Dennis' Law, cyclists will be "granted all of the rights” of motorists, including the right to be granted the right-of-way. The new law was apparently well-favored and passed through the Illinois House and Senate nearly unanimously, with only one vote against it.

In Pennsylvania, the Motor Vehicle Code, Title 75, defines a vehicle propelled solely by human-powered pedals as a “pedacycle.” A pedacycle is a “vehicle” for purposes of the Motor Vehicle Code. Because bicycles are propelled by human-powered pedals, people on bikes are considered to be operating “vehicles” upon the roadways and, therefore, they are generally afforded all of the rights of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code. However, we are also subject to all of the duties applicable to motorists. For a complete review of the laws applicable to cyclists in Pennsylvania, check out my prior post, here.

While Pennsylvania has some favorable bicycle laws, such as a four-foot passing law (note that Pa is currently the ONLY state with a four-foot requirement; other states have 3-foot, 2-foot, or no minimum distance required), Pennsylvania still does not treat bicycles completely equal to motor vehicles. Pennsylvania law also still permits local regulation of bicycle laws, rather than state-wide regulation and uniformity. As a result, local regulations in Philadelphia, for example, are more restrictive than those throughout the rest of the state. See here to review some of the restrictions applicable in Philadelphia. 

Dennis's Law represents another move in the right direction for people on bikes. But we still have a long way to go. 

Be safe out there and thanks for reading.


Matthew F. Dolfi, Esquire
Robb Leonard Mulvihill
BNY Mellon Center
500 Grant Street, Suite 2300
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219
412-281-5431

Website:
www.rlmlawfirm.com

Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/PghBikeLawyer


Important notice:
The information provided in this blog article is not legal advice.  The information and opinions provided herein are solely for the general interest of the visitors to this website.  The information contained herein is only applicable to general principles of law in Pennsylvania and may not reflect current legal developments or statutory changes in various other jurisdictions.  Therefore, the information and opinions contained in this blog should not be relied upon or interpreted as legal advice.  No aspect of this blog article should be interpreted as establishing an attorney-client relationship between the reader and its author.  Anyone reviewing this article should not act upon any information contained herein without first seeking the advice of legal counsel.  
 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Riding at night in Pittsburgh - To see or not to see. That is the question.




We're well into the New Year (hooray!). January is nearly half-way over, the Steelers are in the second-round of the play-offs, and whether you've been riding non-stop since 2015, you've taken on a New Year's resolution to start riding through the Winter, or you're gearing up for the 2016 race season (it's time people!!!), its always good to think about your bike setup and whether you can see and be seen out there on the road. For a really in-depth look at nighttime cycling, click here.


According to Honolulu Star-Advertiser, just under half of all fatal bicycle accidents in the United States from 2010-2014 occurred at night. Of the 1,509 bicycle riders killed at night during the five-year period, only 63 - representing 4 percent - were using lights. A survey of bike light use in Portland, Oregon found that 9 of 10 bicyclists had front lights, but one in nine of those were inadequate. Thus, in Portland, 20% of cyclists were using inadequate front lights! For purposes of the survey, "adequate" was defined as “visible from one block away.”


Local cyclist, Matt Mayhew, on his morning commute.
Although the Portland surveyors found one block of visibility to be "adequate," the Pennsylvania Motor vehicle Code requires more. In Pennsylvania (click here to read the statute), the law requires any cyclist riding between sunset and sunrise to have a headlamp that emits a beam of white light intended to illuminate the cyclist’s path and be visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front. The cyclist must also have a red reflector facing to the rear which is visible at least 500 feet, and an amber reflector on each side of the bicycle. Cyclists can supplement the required front and rear lamps/reflectors, but the front lamp must emit a white beam or light and the rear lamp must emit a red beam or light. Any supplemental lamps or reflectors worn by the rider should be capable of being seen from at least 500 feet to the front and 500 feet to the rear of the bicycle.


If you're going to be riding at night - for training or conquering that 2016 New Year's resolution - you need to get yourself some lights. Pennsylvania law requires a headlight (as well as tail and side reflectors), and it just makes good sense.
Check out this GCN video, below, for tips on how to choose lights and where to place them. As always, be safe out there!





Thanks for reading.

Matthew F. Dolfi, Esquire
Robb Leonard Mulvihill
BNY Mellon Center
500 Grant Street, Suite 2300
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219
412-281-5431

Website:
www.rlmlawfirm.com

Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/PghBikeLawyer


Important notice:
The information provided in this blog article is not legal advice.  The information and opinions provided herein are solely for the general interest of the visitors to this website.  The information contained herein is only applicable to general principles of law in Pennsylvania and may not reflect current legal developments or statutory changes in various other jurisdictions.  Therefore, the information and opinions contained in this blog should not be relied upon or interpreted as legal advice.  No aspect of this blog article should be interpreted as establishing an attorney-client relationship between the reader and its author.  Anyone reviewing this article should not act upon any information contained herein without first seeking the advice of legal counsel.  





Friday, October 16, 2015

Bike Thieves, Beware!!!


Is there anything worse than a bike thief? Probably. But after having my cyclocross bike stolen from inside my office building this week, it sure doesn't feel like it.

That's right. Someone came into my office building, rode the elevator to my floor, walked past my receptionist, and stole my "cross" bike from inside an adjacent, unused office space. The audacity! The nerve!

I went through all five stages of grief in just a few hours: denial ("There's no way this could have happened. Not HERE. Not to ME!"); anger ("I'm gonna find the guy - or girl - and TAKE it back...by force!); bargaining ("If I check the surveillance tapes, we'll find it. If I had put the bike in my office, this wouldn't have happened. Shouldn't my receptionist have seen - or DONE - SOMETHING!"); depression ("My cross racing season is over. I guess I'm not riding into work anymore."); and acceptance ("It's time to call the police, the insurance company, and my bike shop.")

I know. I know. It's just a bike, right? An inanimate object made of carbon fiber with a rapidly depreciating M.S.R.P? But it sure doesn't feel like just a bike to me. Rather, I feel violated on multiple levels. Someone took MY bike. It's how I get to work 2-3 days a week. It's how I stay fit after sitting on my butt in front of a computer all day. It's how I race and (pretend) to be competitive at my age. It's how I manage stress, blow off steam, meditate, and keep my peace of mind. Someone took all that from me! And, what's worse, they came right into my office - a place where I spend more waking hours than my home - and stole something so dear to me. They stole my bike. Well, I'm not happy about it. So, bike thieves, beware!  

Truth is - my bike is gone. And there is little I can do about it now. It's not coming back. It's time to move on. But, what can I - and you - do to prevent future bike thieves? Turns out there are some ways to prevent or, at least, deter a bike thief.

According to an article by nutcasehelmets.com (for the full article, click here, you should:

1. Invest in a decent lock;
2. Use it correctly;
3. Choose location wisely; and
4. Document your bike.

So, what is a decent lock? Nearly every article I've seen suggests a U-lock. You can grab one of these babies at your local bike shop.

How do you use it correctly? Lock the frame, not just the wheels. If you lock your wheels, chances are your going to lose the frame. See photo, above. The photo, below, shows proper bike lock positioning.
 
Location, location, location. Unlike me, you shouldn't park your bike in the same spot day after day, even if that spot is inside your office or home. Bike thieves may be scouting your routes. Police even believe that online ride sharing websites are leading to an increase in bike thefts because thieves are tracking bikes to people's homes! For that article, click here.

For my part, I recommend keeping your bike in sight at all times. I may even choose to switch out my computer chair and just sit on my bike all day. All kidding aside, you can't stay in the saddle 24 hours a day, right? If you have to leave your bike, please choose a location that is well-lit and well-traveled. A back alley is probably not a good choice.

Finally, make sure to record and maintain the serial number and a photo of your sweet ride. If you bought your bike locally, the bike shop should maintain the serial number in their system. But, in case they don't, it's good to have identifying information available for the authorities and your insurance company.

BikePgh runs an "I <3 My Bike Anti-Theft Program" that is set up to deter theft and prevent stolen bikes. For a link to that site, click here.

Thanks for reading.

Matthew F. Dolfi
Robb Leonard Mulvihill
BNY Mellon Center
500 Grant Street, Suite 2300
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219
412-281-5431

website:
Facebook page:

Important notice:
The information provided in this blog article is not legal advice.  The information and opinions provided herein are solely for the general interest of the visitors to this website.  The information contained herein is only applicable to general principles of law in Pennsylvania and may not reflect current legal developments or statutory changes in various other jurisdictions.  Therefore, the information and opinions contained in this blog should not be relied upon or interpreted as legal advice.  No aspect of this blog article should be interpreted as establishing an attorney-client relationship between the reader and its author.  Anyone reviewing this article should not act upon any information contained herein without first seeking the advice of legal counsel.  

Friday, September 4, 2015

Happy Labor Day Weekend

Where has the Summer gone? Fall is upon us. This weekend looks like sunshine and 90s. Pittsburgh Bike Lawyer wishes you a happy and safe Labor Day weekend full of long and rolling miles. Get out there and ride!



Matthew F. Dolfi
Robb Leonard Mulvihill
BNY Mellon Center
500 Grant Street, Suite 2300
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219
412-281-5431
website:
Facebook page:
___________________________________________________________________

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Guest Post - Are Cyclists Required to Use the New Bike Lanes?


Guest Post: Lawyer/Bike Racer, Rick Holzworth, Discusses Whether Cyclists are Required to Use Bike Lanes



Bike lanes are popping up all over the City. (See here and here.) And the statistics are showing that people on bikes are using them. (See here.) The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership recently released a report showing that cyclists on Penn Avenue made over 24,000 trips on the Penn Ave bike lane in the month of May, alone!!! 

According to Bike Pgh, the US Census report recently showed a "meteoric 408% increase in Pittsburgh bike commuting since 2000, the largest jump of any City in the nation." The statistics also indicate that Pittsburgh doubled its bike commuting numbers since 2007, roughly around the time that we started developing our bike lanes. This dramatic increase in cycling within the City puts Pittsburgh in 11th place for rate of bike commuters, just behind Philadelphia. Those are some impressive numbers. 

But, now that we have all these bike lanes - and now that all these people are commuting all over town - are people on bikes required to use the new bike lanes? Lawyer and cyclist, Rick Holzworth, says that while cyclists should use the bike lanes, we are not required by law to use them. You can read Rick's blog here.  You may also read more about Rick's practice here.   

Rick does a great job explaining Pennsylvania's “choice of ways” doctrine and how - when a person is faced with two alternate routes: one safe and one not-so-safe - that person is typically required to choose the safer route in order to avoid being charged with "contributory negligence" in failing to protect himself or herself from foreseeable harm. 

   
So does that mean we have to use the Bike Lanes because they're safer?  Not necessarily. 


Rick's article points out that the choice-of-ways doctrine is not construed as imposing unreasonable restrictions on travel. Instead, people have "freedom of movement" and "cyclists are not required to go out of their way to find the safest route."  Rather, Rick notes, when cyclists are presented with two options, a safe option and a risky option, they probably should choose the safe option (duh!). But that does not mean cyclists are required to use the bike lanes if a safe and alternate option exists.  

 


Thanks for reading.
 
Matthew F. Dolfi
Robb Leonard Mulvihill
BNY Mellon Center
500 Grant Street, Suite 2300
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219
412-281-5431

Important notice:
The information provided in this blog article is not legal advice.  The information and opinions provided herein are solely for the general interest of the visitors to this website.  The information contained herein is only applicable to general principles of law in Pennsylvania and may not reflect current legal developments or statutory changes in various other jurisdictions.  Therefore, the information and opinions contained in this blog should not be relied upon or interpreted as legal advice.  No aspect of this blog article should be interpreted as establishing an attorney-client relationship between the reader and its author.  Anyone reviewing this article should not act upon any information contained herein without first seeking the advice of legal counsel.