The Oregon Court of Appeals has overturned a lower court decision that found a bicycle rider guilty of passing on the right. The case is a rare interpretation of a bicycle-related statute from this upper court and it strengthens the rights of bicycle riders statewide.
It happens way too often: Someone is seriously injured or killed at a location that’s a known traffic safety hot-spot. As an activist, it’s infuriating. I can only imagine what it’s like for the family and friends of victims.
After years of assuming cities had blanket immunity from liability when it came to street design decisions, a recent decision by New York’s highest court has thrown that into question. The court found that the City of New York can be held partly liable for a man’s death because they knew the road encouraged speeding and unsafe driving but they failed to study and implement measures to mitigate the risk.
The ruling is being hailed as a “landmark” and “game-changing” decision by New York City nonprofit organization Transportation Alternatives. Here’s what they said in a statement last week:
“The New York high court just ruled that the City can be held liable for failing to study and implement traffic calming measures, which the jury determined were a major factor contributing to the crash. In a 2004 incident, the driver was traveling at 54 mph on Gerritsen Avenue, which had a speed limit of 30 mph. Prior to the incident, the City had been advised by local residents, elected officials, and the Department of Transportation that speeding was common on the street, but that no sufficient speed study or traffic calming review was performed. The Court found the City liable for failing to adequately study and mitigate the road conditions that contributed to the speeding, stating that “an unjustifiable delay in implementing a remedial plan constitutes a breach of the municipality’s duty to the public.”
Portland-based lawyer and bicycle law specialist Charley Gee needs our help.
Gee represents a man who was struck by someone driving a car as he biked in the bike lane on North Interstate Avenue on August 15th. The person driving the car didn’t render aid or wait around for help to arrive at the scene. The victim needs information about the suspect to help his case.
Here’s more about the incident from Gee:
“After being struck and knocked to the ground, the car driver stopped, rolled down his window and laughed at the injured man before leaving the scene.
A Portland man who was blamed for a collision on a notorious section of North Broadway three years ago has been absolved in court.
Three years ago 33-year old Karl Zickrick was riding down North Broadway on his way to work. As he approached Wheeler he noticed a large SUV encroaching into the bike lane in front of him as it prepared to turn right. To avoid being right-hooked, Zickrick moved to the left out of the bike lane to go around the SUV. However, just as he made that move the driver of the SUV, 62-year-old Michael McLerren, slammed on his brakes and Zickrick flew into the back window. The impact shattered the window and left Zickrick with severe facial injuries and a broken jaw. (Two months after this collision, former Mayor Sam Adams decided to prohibit all right turns onto Wheeler.)
Adding insult to injury, the Portland Police Bureau blamed Zickrick for the collision. The day the crash occurred the PPB said this in an official statement (emphases mine):
wonk on insurance.
Welcome to our Get Legal column. This is usually written by noted local bike lawyer Ray Thomas. But this time we’ve got one of Mr. Thomas’s co-workers Charley Gee filling in. Gee, an attorney at Swanson, Thomas, Coon & Newton is also an expert on how bicycles fit into the legal fine print. Today he’ll unravel confusion that often exists around insurance. Specifically, how auto insurance policies impacts those of us who don’t drive much (or at all).
Q. I have an Oregon automobile insurance policy. What does that mean?
A. In Oregon, every automobile insurance policy has four areas of coverage: Liability, Personal Injury Protection (PIP), Property Damage, and Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM).
Q. What is PIP?
A. PIP covers medical expenses and lost wages if you are injured in a collision. In Oregon, the minimum amount of coverage is $15,000. PIP is (usually) “first party” coverage which means your automobile insurance covers your medical bills and wage loss despite the collision being the fault of another road user.
Q. I ride a bicycle and walk places sometimes, do I need to buy an additional insurance policy that covers me when I ride?