Hopefully you’re never in a position to require legal counsel following a crash on a bike ride. Fortunately, if you are, there are lawyers across the country who specialize in bicycle law — one of the best is Bob Mionske, Olympian and former national champion, who pens a regular column on legal topics that are relevant to cyclists. Here are five of the top columns he wrote in 2016. Note: The information provided in the “Legally Speaking” column is not legal advice. The information provided on this public website is provided solely for the general interest of the visitors to this website.
A group of roadies were out for a ride earlier this summer and were pulled over in a community outside of Ann Arbor for impeding traffic. As an attorney, Mionske’s friend and colleague, Bryan Waldman, would be using the Michigan state trooper’s own dash cam as evidence. The cyclists were riding legally and tried to explain that, but the trooper wouldn’t hear it.
Mionske’s expectation was that the judge would review the law and then watch the video, and it would be a quick, just decision. But this case turned out to be a lot more complicated.
Group rides mean different things to different riders. Seasoned racers will be getting in base miles with an eye toward fitness for the first races, which may still be a few months away. Other riders see group rides as a race, and to ‘win’ the group ride is the goal, no matter the month. With these differing motivations, the group behavior can be a bit schizophrenic; this can be dangerous and leave a horrible impression especially with the non-cycling public.
What kind of group rider are you?
Boulder cyclist and software developer Ernest Ezis tells Mionske about the close call that led to the creation of his “Close Call Database.” An RV driver was making a blatant “punishment pass.” The entire point is to shave it as close to the cyclist as the driver can, to teach the cyclist a lesson for riding on “their” road and being in “their way.” In this case, the RV driver went out of his way to shave it as close as he could.
Fed up with this and other life-threatening experiences, Ezis took it up on himself to create an online database that connects thousands of cyclists to report close call incidents.
Jason, a 41-year-old husband and father of two young boys, was riding lead. His father-in-law and two friends were behind. As they approached a T-intersection, Jason signaled and began to make the left turn. That’s the moment a Toyota Tacoma slammed into Jason from behind, launching him into the air. Fortunately, while Jason was injured, he survived his encounter with the driver, who had decided to pass the cyclists just as they were making their turn. But his next encounter followed the downward spiral this day was taking; the responding police officer wrote a traffic ticket — to Jason!
Picture this: You are riding along on your regular training route and nearly home. The light is green ahead, so you stand up on the pedals. If you make that one, you will make the next three. You clear the first light. Sweet — Now you will be home in three minutes!
Then, it happens. Someone pulls out from a driveway as though you are invisible. You are knocked to the roadway, but miraculously, you are unhurt. Naturally, your thoughts soon turn to your bike, and that’s when you discover that it didn’t fare as well as you. The forks are snapped, and your wheels are both crunched. Would you know what to do next?
Listen to our conversation with Bob Mionske on the VeloNews podcast:
Now read the fine print:
Bob Mionske is a former competitive cyclist who represented the U.S. at the 1988 Olympic Games (where he finished fourth in the road race), the 1992 Olympics, as well as winning the 1990 national championship road race.
After retiring from racing in 1993, he coached the Saturn Professional Cycling team for one year before heading off to law school. Mionske’s practice is now split between personal-injury work, representing professional athletes as an agent and other legal issues facing endurance athletes (traffic violations, contract, criminal charges, intellectual property, etc.).
Mionske is also the author of “Bicycling and the Law,” designed to be the primary resource for cyclists to consult when faced with a legal question. It provides readers with the knowledge to avoid many legal problems in the first place, and informs them of their rights, their responsibilities, and what steps they can take if they do encounter a legal problem. If you have a cycling-related legal question please send it to Bob, and he will answer as many of these questions privately as he can. He will also select a few questions to answer in this column. General bicycle-accident advice can be found at bicyclelaw.com.
The information provided in the “Legally Speaking” column is not legal advice. The information provided on this public website is provided solely for the general interest of the visitors to this website. The information contained in the column applies to general principles of American jurisprudence and may not reflect current legal developments or statutory changes in the various jurisdictions and therefore should not be relied upon or interpreted as legal advice. Understand that reading the information contained in this column does not mean you have established an attorney-client relationship with attorney Bob Mionske. Readers of this column should not act upon any information contained in the website without first seeking the advice of legal counsel.