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Rules of the Road: Bicycle Laws in Ohio

06-30-20    

Ohio cyclists are responsible to follow the same rules and regulations as motor vehicles, which includes yielding to pedestrians, using lights between sunset and sunrise, and obeying all traffic signs and signals (ORC 4511.55). However, there are additional rules that apply to cyclists when riding on public roadways:

  • Cyclists must ride as close to the curb as possible exercising reasonable care when passing a standing vehicle or one proceeding in the same direction.
  • Cyclists shall not ride more than two abreast in a single lane, except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for their exclusive use.

The rule requiring cyclists to ride at the edge of the roadway does not apply when it is unreasonable or unsafe to do so. Some examples of when a rider may have to move away from the edge of the roadway include when necessary:

  • To avoid fixed or moving objects
  • To avoid parked or moving vehicles
  • To avoid surface hazards
  • If the lane is too narrow for the bicycle and an overtaking vehicle to travel safely side by side within the same lane.

Mountain Bikes

If you are riding trails instead of public roadways, there are no specific laws that apply, but there are trail-specific guidelines to follow:

  • Plan ahead –carry necessary supplies for changes in the weather, and know your equipment, your ability, and the area in which you will be riding.
  • Yield appropriately – bicyclists should yield to other non-motorized trail users. Bicyclists traveling downhill should always yield to those heading uphill unless the trail is clearly signed for one-way or downhill-only traffic.
  • Respect trail and road closures – do not trespass on private land, and obtain permits as required.
  • Leave no trace – stay on existing trails and do not create new ones. Don’t cut switchbacks, and do not leave any trash of any kind on the trail.
  • Control your bicycle – obey speed regulations and recommendations and ride within your limits.
  • Respect wildlife – give animals enough room and time to adjust to you and avoid sudden movements and loud noises.

E-bikes

Electric bicycles also known as e-bikes are becoming more and more popular in Ohio. E-bikes attract bicyclists of all ages and abilities because they have a rechargeable motor to assist riders on hills or other obstacles allowing riders to conserve energy, extend range, and equalize riders of different abilities.

E-bikes were previously classified similarly to motor vehicles in Ohio, preventing riders from using them on shared use paths or bicycle facilities that prohibit motorized vehicles. However, Ohio passed a new e-bike law House Bill 250 that went into effect on March 8, 2019. E-bikes are now regulated like non-electric bicycles rather than vehicles.

Ohio’s new law defines three classes of e-bikes according to the type of electric assistance and top speed. All classes are limited to an electric motor of 750 watts or less. The new law also defines where different e-bike classes may be used. Like bicycles, all classes can operate on any road except for a freeway. E-bikes cannot be used on natural surface trails intended for mountain biking, hiking or equestrian use. Additionally, local jurisdictions can further restrict or permit the e-bikes on any trails under their authority so it is important to check the local laws and codes.

Keep in mind that e-bike users are required to follow all traffic and equipment laws that apply to bicycles, like using lights and reflectors.

Class one (pedal assist) and class two (throttle assist) e-bikes travel up to 20 mph and are permitted on bicycle only and shared use paths. Only class three e-bikes, which are pedal assist bikes that go up to 28 mph, have special rules including:

  • They are prohibited from bicycle only and shared use paths
  • They require a speedometer
  • Riders must be 16 or older
  • Helmets are required
  • Speedometer is required

Bicycle Accidents

In most cases, it is illegal for cyclists to ride on the sidewalk and are expected to ride with traffic, not against it – so when driving a motor vehicle, please be courteous, share the road, and obey all traffic laws, signs, and signals. When passing a bicyclist, allow at least three feet of space between your car and the cyclist.

With so many motor vehicles and bicycles sharing the road, these laws strive to help bicyclists avoid motor vehicle collisions. Although Ohio may not currently have a law that requires bicyclists to wear helmets, it is the number one piece of safety advice we can provide to cyclists – please always wear a helmet, ride safely, and follow all Ohio rules and regulations.

If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, we suggest you take the following steps:

  1. Take photos of your bicycle, the vehicle, location of accident, and most importantly, any injuries you have sustained
  2. Get the contact information of the motor vehicle driver, including name, phone number, and auto insurance
  3. Call the police
  4. Seek medical attention as needed
  5. Call us at 419-LAW-2020 for a free consultation to discuss how we can help you recover compensation for your injuries

 


Statistics Don’t Lie: Bicycle Helmets Save Lives and Reduce Injuries

06-26-20    

mom putting bicycle helmet on kid

Most serious cyclists choose to wear a bike helmet, but many recreational riders think it isn’t necessary if they are just going out for a short ride at a leisurely pace. Before you decide to risk riding without a helmet, remember that helmets are made to do one thing—protect you from head injury, and most importantly, prevent a potentially fatal one. Let’s consider the statistics.

What the Statistics Tell Us

    • Researchers at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [1]
      (NHTSA)found that helmets reduced the likelihood of serious head injury by 60 percent. Additionally, in cases where it was known whether cyclists were wearing helmets, 79 percent of those who were fatally injured between 2010 and 2017 were not wearing them.
    • The NHTSA also said in a 2018 report [2], that 857 cyclists were killed in traffic crashes in 2017. This is the highest number of fatalities since 1990. Cycling trips account for one percent of all trips made in the U.S. each year, and nearly two percent of all traffic fatalities.
    • Cyclists who sustained a head injury while riding without wearing a helmet are three times more likely [3] to die than those who are injured while wearing a helmet. Bicycle helmets also prevent serious brain injury in 88% of serious crashes [4].
    • A February 2017 analysis [7] in the International Journal of Epidemiology reviewed 40 separate studies and found helmet use significantly reduced the odds of head injury. They also found the odds of a fatal head injury to be lower when cyclists wore a helmet.
    • Unfortunately, the risk of concussion is very real for cyclists. In 2013 the New York Times reported [5] that cycling had the highest concussion rate among all sports, including football. Sometimes the effects of a concussion can last for months or even years. Many times, they are permanent.

Given the Statistics, Why Doesn’t Everyone Wear a Helmet?

Despite these shocking statistics, less than half of all bicycle riders wear helmets. Because teens tend to think they are invincible, the percentage of teens who wear a helmet is significantly less than half.

dad and son wearing helmets

Riders give many reasons for not wearing helmets.
These include the belief that helmets are uncomfortable,
not socially acceptable[6], or are unnecessary because they are skilled riders.More education is needed so people are aware of the statistics.In addition, laws requiring bicycle riders to wear a helmet would reduce the number of head injuries and fatalities
Wearing a bicycle helmet is always a good idea no matter what the law has to say, but bicycle helmet laws might also have an impact on an injury claim after a bicycle-car accident[8].

What Does the Law Say?

No U.S. state currently requires helmets for adult cyclists, but just under half of the states require the use of bike helmets by riders under a certain age
bicycle helmets

Ohio has no mandatory bicycle helmet laws However, some cities and townships may have their own ordinances written into their municipal codes. Dayton, for instance, requires all cyclists to wear helmets and to equip their bike with a bell that is audible for up to 100 feet.

Just because the law doesn’t require it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.Being aware of the statistics is key. We hope you will choose to wear a helmet and encourage and educate your friends and family to wear one too.

Sources:


Rinehardt Law Firm’s Top 10 List of Bicycle Safety Gear

06-17-20    


Whether you choose to wear one or not, you probably know that a properly fitted helmet is by far the number one most important piece of safety equipment to protect yourself from injury when out for a bicycle ride. But what other safety gear is important and why? Rinehardt Law Firm compiled a top ten list of core biking gear.

#10: First Aid Kit

Even if you’re not going fast, if you fall off your bicycle, you are likely to sustain at least road rash or a gash. You will want to get even minor wounds cleaned and covered quickly. Carry a basic first aid kit on your bike including bandages, gauze, antibiotic ointment, burn gel, and butterfly closures.

#9 Go-Pro or Dash Cam

Bicyclists on the roadways are at risk of being hit by reckless, negligent, or distracted drivers. Bad driving can be deadly. On top of that, occasionally bicyclists must face intentional acts of aggression. A camera attached to your bike or helmet can provide invaluable video footage to document such events.

#8: Tire Pump, Patch Kit and Spare Tube

The most common problem cyclists face is a flat tire. If you are riding more than a few miles from home, you should always carry a spare tube for large punctures or blowouts. A patch kit can repair small punctures.

#7: Sunscreen

When the wind is in our face, we can forget that sun is still doing damage to our skin. Research shows that exposure to UV rays from the sun is responsible for up to 80% of visible aging signs and is the most serious threat for causing skin cancer. Apply high-SPF sunscreen 20-30 minutes before you ride, even when it’s not sunny.

#6: Mirror

Many accidents occur when a cyclist is hit from behind. A rearview mirror can help you see if a driver is paying attention or driving erratically behind you. Mirrors may be attached to your handlebars or helmet. There are even sunglasses available with a mirror on the inside.

#5: A Bell or Horn

If you can’t be seen, maybe you can be heard. When approaching pedestrians, runners, other cyclists, or even a car from the rear, sounding a bell can prevent collisions caused by unexpected motion coming into your riding path.

#4: Reflective Gear

Again, staying visible is the key to staying safe. Most accidents happen because a driver fails to see the cyclist. There is a plethora of reflective gear available to help you be seen including bright florescent colored jerseys or jackets, neon vests with reflectors, reflective stickers and bands, tires with reflective sidewalls, bright colored helmets, and reflective socks and even shoes!

#3: Cell Phone, Medical Information, and ID cards

No one expects to be in an accident, so it is best to be prepared. Always bring your cell phone so you can call for help. But cell phones can break or get lost and if you are unconscious, your phone will be locked. That’s why is it also important to carry emergency identification and medical information including allergies, medication and past medical history. It can save your life, but it can also help your ride partners help you if you are hurt and it provides peace of mind to your loved ones at home.

#2: Water

It may seem simple, but if you’re not properly hydrated before you ride and hydrating while on the road, you run the risk of dealing with serious side effects that could not just affect your performance, but your health. If you wait to drink until you’re thirsty, it’s already too late. If you’re dehydrated by even two percent of body weight, it will have a negative effect on your cognitive function. Always carry plenty of water when you ride and depending on how long you will be out there, consider adding an electrolyte infused drink mix to your water bottle.

#1: Headlight and Rear Reflector or Flashing Light

If drivers can’t see you, they might run into you. That’s why it is important to always ride with lights on, even during the day. Illumination for nighttime or low-light riding may seem obvious, but studies show that daytime lights can reduce bike accidents by 20%.


Bicycle Safety—Know and Minimize the Risks

06-15-20    


In the context of COVID-19 and the shutdown of gyms and fitness centers, many individuals are finding different ways to keep fit and pursue recreational activities. Because of this, the demand for bicycles is through the roof. Sales of bicycles for both children and adults have experienced double and triple-digit increases.

But as the rise in bicycle usage increases, more awareness of bicycle safety becomes imperative.

Understanding the Risk Factors

The absence of external bicycle protection while riding results in a predictable vulnerability of the cyclist to injury from either an unintentional fall or collision with a motor vehicle. In 2018 alone, there were 857 bicyclists killed in traffic crashes.

How to Minimize the Risk

By law, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorized vehicles. This compels familiarity with the Rules of the Road to help prevent accidents.

Another way to prevent injury is to use a properly fitted and maintained bicycle. Proper fit and maintenance allow the rider to concentrate on the road and his/her surroundings. It also incidentally prevents injury related to the repetitive motions required in cycling.

With regard to helmets, sixty-percent of bicycle deaths occurred in riders who were not wearing helmets. The data strongly supports the use of helmets to protect the brain. Specifically, helmet use may reduce the risk of head injury by 50% and head, face or neck injury by 33%.  Notably, emergency room doctors are among the strongest advocates for bicycle helmet use.  As the fit is important to ensure the benefits of protection with a helmet, refer to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration website for taking the proper helmet fitting setup.

Risk factors associated with bicycle crashes include riding between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.; urban/city riding; being a male; and ingestion of alcohol.  Knowledge of these facts can help one ride responsibly. Wear and use equipment that can make you more visible – bright clothing and the use of lights and reflectors are a good start.

Plan your route to avoid heavily-traveled areas. Understand that the ingestion of alcohol can affect one’s judgment and reaction times.

The Benefits of Cycling in the World of COVID

Cycling remains a healthy alternative in the setting of the current COVID-19 requirements to maintain physical distancing and avoid the risks of large crowds.

Continuing an exercise routine and getting outdoors also may strengthen our immune system and improve our overall mental health. With that in mind, the responsible approach to launching a beneficial cycling program is to integrate the safety principles described.

Look for a more detailed discussion of safety tips and informational tidbits in upcoming blogs.


Protecting Your Mental Health During the Coronavirus Outbreak

04-03-20    

We hear a lot in the news about how to protect ourselves and our communities physically during the current health crisis, but we don’t hear as much about how to protect our mental health and stability. Given the drastic changes in everyday life and the barrage of news stories on TV and in social media, everyone is at risk for increased anxiety and depression – even people who have never had such symptoms before. But what can you do to avoid getting overly anxious or depressed? We suggest trying out some (or all!) of these strategies when things start to feel overwhelming:

  1. Take breaks. Whether you are now working from home, homeschooling your kids, or working increased hours in an essential field, give yourself permission to take a breather. Get up and walk outside, pick up a magazine, take a short nap. It doesn’t have to be long, just as long as it gives your mind and body a moment to regroup.
  2. Phone a friend. Being physically distant from friends and family can heighten feelings of anxiety and depression. But being distant doesn’t have to mean being disconnected. Try a phone call, a video chat, or even writing to someone via email or snail mail. Reach out, and you may do just as much for someone else’s mental health as your own.
  3. Stick to a routine. Even with your activities being limited, you can still wake up at the same time, shower, eat breakfast, and get your day started just like before. Not only will that help you feel some normalcy, but it will make it easier to readjust once the current situation is over.
  4. Lower expectations for your kids. They may not verbalize it in the same way, but kids (even teenagers!) are feeling the stress of this situation. Instead of getting frustrated and focusing on deadlines and outcomes, focus on supporting them, listening to them, and showing them where to go to find help with questions about their school work. Most schools have teachers that miss their students terribly and would love to be able to offer some guidance and assistance!
  5. Lower expectations for yourself. You may not be remodeling your bathroom, cleaning all your closets, or learning a new language, but if you’re keeping your family and yourself healthy and safe, you’re doing great! This isn’t an easy time, and nobody expects you to be superhuman.
  6. Limit your news intake and your exposure to social media. Check the updates once or twice a day and then let your mind focus on other things like enjoying your family or reconnecting with a friend. Don’t give in to the anxiety that makes you compulsively consume every news update and comment.
  7. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are so many resources out there, including mental health providers that are able to “meet” you and help you with remote visits via phone, video, or internet. Help is there for you!

Check out the following websites, which list lots of helpful tips and ways to find more help if you need it. Stay well!

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We’re here to help you and your family get back on track after an accident. Reach out to us today for a free case evaluation.