Bicyclists, Pedestrians and Motorists Understanding the Rules of the Road

The frustration between bicyclists pedestrians and motorist stem from inattention to the laws of the road from all sides

As an injury lawyer in Philadelphia, I strongly support the Department of Public Safety’s decision to enforce penalties for all bicyclists pedestrians and motorists who do not follow traffic laws on the road.  The Department of Public Safety recently stated that the strained road relationship between bicyclists pedestrians and motorists stems from all parties failing to adhere to the laws of the road.  It is not rare for our Injury Law Firm in Philadelphia to see bicyclists pedestrians and motorist blaming each other after an accident.  Bicyclists pedestrians and motorist often do this because they do not fully understand the rules of the roads.  Enforcing penalties will force bicyclists pedestrians and motorist to  follow rules will create coherence on the streets, making our Philadelphia roads safer.

During the summer season people are anxious to go outside, travel and enjoy the warm weather.  This mean more pedestrians, bikes and cars on the road.  Unfortunately, this inevitably means an increase in the already strained relationship between motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.   All parties, bicyclists pedestrians and motorists alike, need to heighten their focus on the laws of the roads. recently reported a tragic bike and car collision that occured on  July 22nd..  A bicyclist was hit by a car in Hunting Park.  The cyclist was listed in critical condition after the accident.  The bicyclist suffered a brain injury and was rushed to Temple University Hospital.  The driver of the striking vehicle stayed on the scene, and neither drugs nor alcohol are suspected to have played a role in the crash, police said.  Most likely, this accident was cause because the rules of the road were not being followed or fully understood.  Hopefully the Department of Public Safety’s new policy will prevent bicyclists pedestrians and motorists from being involved in these avoidable tragedies.

A few years ago a truck in the outer lane of traffic hit the rear wheel of bicycle from behind .  This caused Ashley McKean to fall into the path of the vehicle. The van driver was unable to brake in time to avoid her, and he drove her left leg as she lay in the road. Ashley was taken to hospital, where she underwent multiple surgeries for the fractured bones she had sustained, ligament damage, a urinary tract infection and bowel dysfunction.  On July 11th a Philadelphia Jury awarded bicyclist Ashley McKean $2.4 Million after she was severely injured in an accident involving a car. After being discharged from hospital, Ashley made a claim for cyclist injury compensation against the driver of the parked car – Marci Shepard – and the driver of the van that had run over her – Robert Crawford. Shepard’s lawyer had a challenge ahead of him because both defendants denied their responsibility for Ashley´s cycling injuries.  Shepard argued that Ashley should have been on the sidewalk, and Crawford stated that he was not to blame as the cause of the accident was Shepard´s negligence in opening the car door without looking.

The trial was a typical example of the blame game that usually occurs between bicyclists pedestrians and motorists.  The defendants said Crawford took steps to avoid hitting her and claimed she should have been aware of her surroundings. Ultimately McKean was awarded $2.4 million, after incurring about $587,947 in medical bills thus far. So, what constitutes safe bike riding?  Who was truly responsible in this situation for the injury?  How do we prevent these accidents from happening in the future? One problem is the blame game.  Most bicyclists pedestrians and motorists accidents could be avoided if  bicyclists pedestrians and motorists stopped pointing fingers at each other, and were aware of the rules of the road.  The reality is that the tense road conditions are largely because many bicyclists pedestrians and motorists are guilty of not following rules or safety guidelines.   The details of the accident below first appeared on buzzfeed.  It involved a pedestrian, vehicle, and cyclist and serves as the perfect example of their frustration between the groups, and how this can lead to injuries and accidents.

Sian Green, 23, was a pedestrian who lost part of her leg in a collision that involved a bicycle and a car.

“I personally feel that if that man on the bike didn’t bang on my car, maybe this would not have happened,” said Mohammed Faysal Himon, 24, who was responsible for the accident that left one tourist with a severed leg. He faces no criminal charges.

There were a few victims in that accident.  The driver of the cab, Mahammed Faysal Himon is partially blaming the biker (was was thrown in the air after he hit the cab) for the accident.

Himon stated that “The city wastes a lot of money by giving them all these bike lanes, and for what? Honestly, I have no problem with bikers. They should just stay in their lane and I’ll stay in mine.  A lot o bikers disregard the bike lanes and drive wherever they want”  He continued to stated that the biker “was in my way and I got upset, so I gave him notice that I wanted to pass through. He started pounding on my car with his hands and was yelling things at me. I suddenly felt like I had to get out of there. It was becoming a bad situation. So I accelerated to get in front of him… I don’t know how, but I just lost control of the car. I was in shock. When I crashed, I didn’t even see the lady. At first, I didn’t think I hit anyone, then I saw her foot by my car. I can’t get it out of my mind… I personally feel that if that man on the bike didn’t bang on my car, maybe this would not have happened.”

You may think that Mahammad didn’t really feel like he was in danger and “had to get away” like he stated earlier.  Maybe you suspect that he was furious at this biker, and drove at him in retaliation.  Well, let’s meet the biker. The cyclist was 40 years old Kenneth Olivo.  Olivo has a mere 22 arrests on his record, his most recent for threatening to decapitate a man. “You don’t know who you are messing with! I will stab you! I will decapitate you! I will kill you and your family!” Olivo told a man in a McDonald’s on Sixth Avenue on April 28.

With Olivio’s history, most would feel the need to put the pedal to the medal if they encountered him.  Now, Mohammed Faysal Himon has liven in grief for what happened to the tourist.  He still remains firm that he is only partially to blame.

“I will pray for her,” he said. The accident was “a disaster for me. Someone lost a part of their leg because of all this. It was so disturbing. I was afraid I was going to lose all my senses. When I saw her leg, I froze. I couldn’t walk or talk,” he said.

Neither the cab driver or cyclist have been charged with any crimes.

How do we create  synchronization on the streets to stop these calamities on the road?  There seems to be only one solution:  Forcing the public to follow the law, and respect and follow the rules that apply to every mode of transportation and pedestrian on the road.  Vagelos professor David Christianson had a close encounter with a cyclist at the intersection of 34th and Walnut streets. He said that a cyclist made an illegal left turn through a red light and nearly sideswiped Christianson while he crossed the street.

“I would be scared to be a cyclist in the city partly because of the cars and partly because of the other cyclists,” Christianson said.

Christianson said that when he filed a concern with the Division of Public Safety about the incident, police told him that they issue citations to cyclists violating traffic laws, with fines ranging from $55.50 to $137.50.

“It’s a lawful order that’s meant to protect the community,” Vice President of Public Safety Maureen Rush said of the laws in place for cyclists, adding that DPS enforces traffic laws for everybody on the road. “When there are people parked in the bike lane, we will ticket them and we will chase them.”

It’s easy to turn bike safety into a blame game, but DPS said that safety is a shared responsibility.

“In an accident, the car is going to be the one to blame and that’s not always necessarily true,” Wistar Institute research assistant Patricia Reyes — who cycles between campus and Fairmount — said. A lot of cyclists have to defend themselves against rules that they believe target them unfairly,” Robinson said.

As the laws stands, except on highways, bicycles are considered vehicles and held to the same traffic laws as motor vehicles. Pennsylvania passed a law in April 2013 requiring that a four-foot buffer be given to cyclists when vehicles pass them on roads. Additionally, by law, bikes are allowed to use the entire road lane even if a bike lane exists, and cars must yield to both pedestrians and bikes traveling straight when attempting to turn right.  Understanding these rules is necessary to keep order on the streets.  With the expected increased population of cyclists, DPS has increased their efforts to educate the public about safety issues with the growing number of accidents.

“We could have a thousand police officers out there and it wouldn’t be enough,” ice President of Public Safety Maureen Rushice President of Public Safety Maureen Rushice President of Public Safety Maureen Rushsaid, saying DPS would rather encourage people to take their personal safety seriously than issuing traffic tickets. It’s a lawful order that’s meant to protect the community,” Vice President of Public Safety Maureen Rush said of the laws in place for cyclists, adding that DPS enforces traffic laws for everybody on the road. “When there are people parked in the bike lane, we will ticket them and we will chase them.”

As said before, it’s easy to turn safety into a blame game, but the people of Philadelphia must make an effort to learn the rules, so they are prepared for every person or vehicle they meet on the road.  Furthermore, it is essential that   The best way to ensure the well-being of everyone, and a more pleasant environment when enjoying and exploring our city, Philadelphia roads safety must be not only be a shared responsibility but a shared priority.  If we do this, bicyclists pedestrians and motorists working harmoniously will allow for a much more pleasant experience for all.


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