The sharing of the road by cars and cyclists can become dangerous. In Westchester County, cars and bicycles collided 414 times resulting in four cyclists’ deaths from January 1, 2009 to May 31, 2012, according to a study done by Tri-State Transportation Campaign. The most collisions occurred in Yonkers with 80, followed by New Rochelle and White Plains, each with 46 collisions. An article on May 21, 2015 was published by The Journal News by K. Hurram Saeed entitled “Cyclists, divers clash over who’s to blame”. The Chief of Police for the Rockland Sherriff’s Office states “It’s a two way street, the cyclists have to respect the rules of the road but operators have to share the road for everyone’s safety”. Two cyclists were killed in collisions in May, 2015 and another seriously injured in Ramapo. Alan D. Taylor, 62 from Patterson, New York died on May 5, 2015 in Carmel, New York after being hit by a driver accused of being on drugs. Four days later, Alfred Zaldivas, 47 of New City, New York died from head and internal injuries after being struck by a Jeep. He was not wearing a helmet according to Clarkstown Police and the driver of the car was charged with a felony.

New York State traffic laws, unknown to most, apply to motor vehicle and bicycles. Cyclists should ride single file. They are legally allowed to ride side by side if sufficient space is available. They are not required to ride along the shoulder like drivers. They need room to avoid pot holes and debris. They are entitled to the full lane and drivers should have at least 3 feet from the cyclist and wait until there is enough room to pass.

Common complaints about cyclists in the suburbs include ignoring traffic signals, riding without wearing a helmet or lights, wearing ear buds and using their cell phone while riding and going against traffic. AAA New York acknowledged “significant knowledge gap existed among drivers who don’t realize the cyclists have the right to the road as motorists”. David Karel, President of Westchester Cycle Club said its time to raise the collective consciousness about safety. He would like to see “Merrill’s law” which mandates drivers pass cyclists at a safe distance changed to 3 feet as 23 other states mandate, He wants more signs reminding drivers to share the road, public service announcements reinforcing that message and biker safety emphasized during driver education.

Veronica Vanterpool, Executive Director of Tri-State Transportation Campaign credited White Plains for becoming the first municipality in Westchester to add bike lanes. Two years ago Eastchester added bike pavement markings in 2010. This group has pushed for New York State to spend $100 million over the next 5 years for bike and pedestrian improvements but, to date, has been unsuccessful. At the same time, Federal funding for upgrades like better street design and separated bike lanes has been cut by 30% in recent years.

The article points out common collisions between cars and bicycles. Driver’s check the curb lane and check over your right shoulder so you don’t cut off any cyclists. Cyclists watch for vehicles that may not see you and turn wide at intersections. Left turning: drivers look for on coming vehicles. Cyclists check the crosswalk for pedestrians. Cyclists watch for vehicles that maybe about to turn left. Turning right: Driver’s check the curb lane and check over your right shoulder so you do not cut off cyclists. Cyclists: watch for vehicles that may not see you and turn wide at intersection. Drivers passing too close to cyclists. They need 3 feet on either side as a safety zone. Cyclists watch passing vehicles and be prepared to slow down or stop if necessary opening car doors. Drivers before opening car doors, check your mirrors and look over your right shoulder for cyclists or pedestrians. Cyclists watch for people in parked cars who may open their doors as you are passing.
If you or a loved one has been in a collision between a car and bicycle, contact Dominick J. Robustelli & Associates, PLLC at (914) 288-0800 or e-mail us at djrobolaw@oal.comcy

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