Ways to Make Your Child’s Bicycle Safer

Family riding bikesKids just love to ride a bike, but statistics show that bicycling can be a potentially dangerous activity, with nearly half a million emergency room visits every year related to bike accidents. Though many of the accidents are the result of lack of supervision, authorities say that safety features (or lack thereof) can also contribute to accidents. Not surprisingly, the U.S. Consumer Safety Product Commission has a specific set of design guidelines that manufacturer’s must follow when selling or marketing bicycles, with special standards for children’s bicycles.

The CSPC determines whether a bicycle must comply with the standards set for children’s bikes by looking at the wheel size, with the safety regulations varying based on wheel size. As a general rule, bikes with a 12-16 inch wheel base (as compared to the full-sized 23 inch base) must have more built-in safety features, as their users, small children, will have less strength and coordination. Here are some of the guidelines:

Balance Bicycles

The most basic type of child bike is what is known as the “balance bike.” This bicycle has no pedals, gears or drive system at all. It is designed entirely to be propelled either by the child, or with assistance from an adult. These bikes are most often used by children under the age of four. Because they are not considered road bikes in any sense, they do not need brakes or reflectors.

Sidewalk Bikes

Balance bikes fall under the broader category of “sidewalk bikes,” which are generally not intended for use on roadways. As a general rule, these bikes don’t have a wheelbase larger than 12 inches. If the height of the seat is less than 22 inches, these bikes don’t need brakes. If the seat is higher than 22 inches, the bike must have a foot brake. These bikes are considered entry-level or training bikes, and should only be used by children under the age of five. They typically have training wheels and, if they have a chain, must also have a guard.

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At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to injured people throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-200-8989.

Critics Say Intersection and Road Design Increase Risk to Pedestrians

BicycleIt’s become a far too common occurrence—a motorist parks on the street and opens the traffic-side door without looking, putting the open door directly in the path of an oncoming vehicle, or even worse, a cyclist. In a study conducted in Chicago earlier this decade, researchers found that “dooring crashes”—where bicyclist collided with the open door of a parked vehicle—accounted for almost one in five bicycle-related accidents (19.7%). A similar study in Boston found that about one in ten bicycle crashes involved “dooring.”

The problem is not a new one, though. Unbeknownst to most people, so-called “dooring laws” have been on the books in some states since 1956. Over the past 50 years, most states and many metropolitan areas have either enacted legislation requiring motorists to use reasonable care before disembarking from a vehicle, have mounted public service campaigns to make motorists more aware of the risks associated with opening a door into traffic, or have put both measures in place. Only ten states have no dooring law. All but two of the states with dooring laws also make it illegal to leave a door open longer than necessary to load or unload a vehicle.

Cycling advocates say that both the infrastructure that has been created for bicycling, as well as many new bicycling laws, have increased the risk of dooring accidents. For example, they point to the proliferation of bicycle lanes between road and curb, which may actually require that bicyclists ride in the path of an open door. Furthermore, some bicycle laws mandate that riders be as far to the right as possible, placing them directly in the door zone.

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At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to injured people throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-234-2233.

Protect Your Rights When You Are Injured on a Bicycle

Bicycle laneAccording to a recent study, nearly 20,000 bicyclists were injured in collisions with motor vehicles during a ten year period. Not surprisingly, 81 of those accidents proved fatal to the bicyclist.

The Laws Governing Bicycles and Riders in New Jersey

Under New Jersey law, a bicycle is legally viewed as a vehicle, with bicycle operators enjoying the same privileges and responsibilities as other motorists. Accordingly, when you are on the road, you generally have equal legal rights and access as those in motor vehicles.
There are, however, some additional requirements that apply specifically to bicyclists. The laws state that, when riding a bicycle on the road, you must be as close to the right roadside as is “practicable.” You must also use reasonable care when passing a parked vehicle or one moving in the same direction. New Jersey law also mandates that you wear an approved safety helmet.

Bicycle Accidents—Causes and Responsibility

Studies repeatedly show that, in most collisions involving motorists and bicyclists, the motorists failed to use appropriate caution, and were at fault. Typical causes of bicycle accidents include:

  • Drivers opening a door to a parked car in front of a bicyclist
  • Drivers turning left into the path of a bicyclist who has the right of way
  • Drivers failing to allow reasonable distance between the vehicle and the bicycle when passing
  • Drivers passing bicyclists at an excessive rate of speed
  • Drivers operating a vehicle while drunk, distracted or impaired

Bicyclists may also suffer injury because of negligent maintenance of roadways, or road conditions. For example, a road may have construction gravel, potholes or other obstructions. Stop signs may be down or hidden by trees. Bike lanes may be improperly marked, or speed limits may be inappropriate around bike lanes.
Additionally, bicycle accidents can stem from defects in the design, manufacture or distribution of a bike or its components. A fork may break, chains may be defective or brakes may not work properly.

Contact Taylor & Boguski

At Taylor & Boguski, we bring more than 70 years of combined legal experience to injured people throughout New Jersey. For a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 856-234-2233.

Tragedy When Car Strikes Morning Bicyclist

A morning bicycle ride ended in tragedy when a Mount Laurel cyclist was struck and killed by a car. The cyclist left behind four children, 13 grandchildren, his wife, his mother, and his company which he owned.

Bicycling is a healthy, joyful, and generally safe activity. Bicycling is growing significantly each year, especially in cities where bike rental is available and convenient to access.

Despite increased awareness of cyclists on the road in New Jersey and elsewhere, in most cases, car drivers are not looking out for cyclists on the roads. In 2010, there were more than 52,000 cyclists injured in crashes in New Jersey and throughout the nation.

While bicyclists have the same rights to the road as car drivers do, car drivers often disregard this to a biker’s peril. Motor vehicle drivers whose careless or negligent actions strike and injure a bicyclist may be held liable for medical costs, pain and suffering, and other damages related to the crash.

Common causes of NJ bicycle accidents include:

  1. A bicycle and car are riding parallel to one another and the car driver turns into the bike’s path, striking the cyclist.
  2. A bike and a car are heading in opposite directions toward an intersection. When they get into the intersection, the auto driver fails to yield right of way to the cyclist, striking him or her.
  3. A car driver parks the car and opens the door into the path of an oncoming bicyclist, who cannot swerve to avoid it.
  4. Inattentive car drivers simply do not see a cyclist.
  5. A bicycle that has been poorly maintained or is missing something as critical as brakes – and yes, cyclists do ride on occasion without brakes.

When cars are driving at speeds and crash into a bicyclist, the chances are great that the biker will suffer life-changing injuries. It can help a great deal to have someone who understands personal injury law and bike accident issues protect your rights.

Call 800-404-5299 or 856-234-2233 for a Free Consultation with a Lawyer

To learn more about your rights and issues of liability and damages on behalf of injured bicyclists and pedestrians, email or call the personal injury lawyers of Taylor & Boguski in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. We offer a free, private consultation where you can get your questions answered and your case will be evaluated.