Jamie Swan is a life long bicycle veteran starting out in shops in 1970, working as a production wheelbuilder throughout the 1980s, and operating a small bike shop for nearly twenty years before taking up his current position as a machinist on Long Island. Highly regarded by other framebuilders for his machining skills and willingness to share his expertise, his own framebuilding is a side business but you wouldn’t know it by looking at his bikes. This meticulously finished bike is his personal single speed road bike — with 15 years of track racing under his belt it’s no surprise that Jamie has a fendered, single speed road trainer in his stable. Jamie explained that the plate fork crown that caught my eye was a cast crown he split in his machine shop, a truly custom piece. The paint is a Mini Cooper color he noticed in the commuter parking lot. Just love the gum hoods and fluted cranks, it’s really a consistent and classic look with this build. See more at www.jamieswan.net
Divvy Bikes is Chicago’s bike share system, and this video follows Pro BMXer’s Brian Kachinsky, Kevin Porter and Nick Wilbat as they shred by the hour.
People love riding with their kids, but traditional rear mounted seats and trailers have all sorts of shortcomings for city and trail riding alike. Top tube mounted seats are nothing new overseas, even if a relatively rare sight in the United States, with Mac Ride trying to bring a new version of the child bicycle seat to market. Glen Dobson was inspired by wanting to ride offroad with kids, the seat attaches to most bikes with but a headset spacer mounting bracket in place when the kiddo is taking a nap and the seat is removed. The child gets to hold onto the bars and experience the ride just like an adult, but suspended on a saddle between the adult rider and the bars. See more details at the Mac Ride Kickstarter.
Cycling Legalese is our online cycling law column from everyday cyclist and Chicago based injury lawyer, Brendan Kevenides.
If you’re involved in an automobile/bicycle collision it is in your best interest to call the police and get a report, but how will it impact a potential claim for injury or damage compensation if the police officer doesn’t issue a ticket to the driver on the spot?
Q:After I was hit by a car, the police did not give the driver a ticket. How will that affect my ability to receive compensation from the driver for my injuries?
A traffic ticket issued to a driver for causing a crash may aid a bicyclist’s personal injury case. But, failure of the police to ticket a driver will generally have no impact at all on the cyclist’s case.
Most police officers try hard to do the right thing. But strip away the badge and the uniform and what you are left with is a fallible human being. After a crash, you may know with cosmic certainty that the driver that hit you was in the wrong. Police officers arriving after the fact will not have a clue about what happened. They may have a pissed-off, injured bicyclists telling them one thing, a frustrated, nervous driver telling them another, and a mess of backed-up city traffic. Figuring out what happened and who was at fault may not be knowable, and/or may be the least of their concerns. Sometimes the responding officer will take his or her best guess as to what happened and issue a ticket. Let the judge sort it out. Other times a cop will throw his or her hands up and keep the ticket book tucked away.
To be sure, I sometimes shake my head when the police fail to ticket a driver. It is astonishing when a driver is not ticketed, for example, after dooring a cyclist in broad daylight. Other times I suspect that a police officer holds an anti-bike prejudice. Just the other day, I was in court in a suburb of Chicago defending a bicyclist who was hit from behind by a vehicle whose driver crossed a double yellow line and hit him as the cyclist began a left turn. The officer ticketed the cyclist for failing to signal his intent to turn, even though the officer documented that witnesses reported that the cyclist had indeed signaled. The judge ultimately threw out the ticket, but, sheesh!
When a driver is ticketed after a crash, he or she will generally be given a date to appear in court and enter a plea, guilty/not guilty. It is very important that the bicyclist appear at that court date. The cyclist will be the complaining witness, without whom the prosecution will not be able to prove a traffic violation (assuming the issuing police officer did not actually witness the incident). The officer that wrote the ticket will generally not be permitted to testify as to what someone else said happened. Such testimony is considered hearsay and cannot serve as a basis for a conviction. It is a good idea to arrive at the hearing early so you or your lawyer can seek out the prosecutor and let them know that you are present and ready to testify against the driver. In city traffic court the prosecutor will have about a zillion cases he or she is dealing with at once and will likely appreciate the presence of a complaining witness willing to cooperate and explain what the case is about. Depending on what the presiding judge generally allows, the prosecutor may then seek out the driver in the courtroom and explain their options. Sometimes an agreement to plead guilty will result in a lesser punishment for the driver then a finding of guilt by the judge after a time consuming trial. In my experience, many drivers take that deal. This is important. A plea of guilty in the criminal/traffic case is admissible in evidence as an admission in the subsequent civil/personal injury case. The driver will have a very difficult time wiggling free from a claim of negligence after pleading guilty. However, a finding of guilt (or not) at trial is not admissible in the personal injury case. In most jurisdictions a jury considering the personal injury case would never learn of the earlier verdict arising from the traffic citation.
So, if the driver is ticketed after a crash, great. Go to the traffic citation hearing. If the driver does not get a ticket, do not sweat it.
Nothing contained in this column should be construed as legal advice. The information contained herein may or may not match your individual situation. Also, laws differ from place to place and tend to change over time. No reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information presented herein without seeking the advice of an attorney in the relevant jurisdiction. This column is meant to promote awareness of a general legal issue. As such, it is meant as entertainment. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader.
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A former employer shared the wise words of “perception is reality” whenever faced with a situation where the customer was taking our plan in a different direction than expected. It’s an important lesson in bicycle advocacy too — we’re not just speaking to life long cyclists with advocacy efforts, but to the legions of sometimes-riders who may not understand the finer points of traffic markings and control, and may not care. Perception is reality. People For Bikes posted the results of an online scientifically controlled survey on positive/negative perception of various city cycling images from people who own bikes but don’t necessarily ride them daily.
A scientific online poll of Portlanders and San Franciscans who own bikes but don’t ride frequently — in other words, about half the voting population — asked respondents to rate the following photos on a scale of 1 to 4 based on how each “impacts your feelings.”
There’s a common thread to the popular photos, said Mary Lauran Hall, communications manager for the Alliance for Biking and Walking: order.
“The images that are most appealing are the ones where everybody seems to be in the right place,” she said. “There’s a very clear delineation … this is where the bikes belong, and this is where the cars belong.”
It is worth checking out the whole series of images for advocates, daily and casual riders alike. As someone heavily involved in local bicycle advocacy, I found the images pretty enlightening as to how people would really like their commute to look. See the entire piece at www.peopleforbikes.org