Bike photos by Steve Magas, a race in Walnut Hills, a bike rack at Ride Cincinnati, A ghost bike dedication ceremony and a beautiful bike bell

Protecting The Rights Of Those Who Ride

Steve Magas is Ohio's Bike Lawyer. He has written about Ohio Bike Laws, bike crashes, bicycle advocacy and court cases for some 30 years. Soon we'll be adding a series of features about your favorite Ohio bike shops.

Make YOUR Voice Heard – NOW!

August 31 – 9am – Hamilton County Courthouse Room 495 – Judge Foley State v. Melinda Woodall Case No. B-1600608 –

This Wednesday at 9am Melinda Woodall will be sentenced for killing Michael Prater. She was convicted of Aggravated Vehicular Homicide – Possession of Drugs – Possession of Drug Tools –

YOU CAN PARTICIPATE NOW – Get your letter written – Tell the COURT WHAT YOU THINK about sentencing. Get it down NOW – get it to the Judge – Sentencing is Wednesday – once it is over it is too late for you to help.

Judge J. Patrick Foley III
ROOM 495
Hamilton County Common Pleas Court
1000 Main Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202

RE:  State v. MELINDA WOODALL, Case No. B16-00608

Michael Prater Read the rest of this entry »


What’s a Woot? I Dunno-But their PR/Ad Department Stinks…

Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 10.32.11 PMHow can I put this delicately?

“Woot.com” – your “thoughts” about cyclists are stupid – your product is lousy and your attitude and advertising sucks

…so much so that I’m encouraging folks to write or call you and tell you the same thing and steering people away from your products… how bout THEM apples… oh man, I think they are quacking…er… quaking in their boots… OK maybe not, but here’s the story…

Below is the “ad” for an indoor exercise bike offered by [Amazon owned] “Woot.” Their approach to selling the bike is to basically take pot shots at cyclists… whining the usual whines and hacking away at the usual stereotypes –> nobody likes you – you block the road- you go too slow- it’s not safe- you are unpredictable – weird hand signals – pedestrians don’t like you – you should get off the road— “therefore,” the ad seems to say, you should just buy an indoor exercise bike from woot.com.

Maybe it was supposed to be funny? I dunno… I wonder if they use the same type stereotypical imagery and language to sell other stuff (“Yo – youse Italian guys- everybody knows you’re part of the Mafia so why not buy our suits and dress like a gumbah hit man – capiche?”)

It’s certainly their right to advertise their bikes for sale using any stupid discriminatory stereotypical way they choose – just as it’s my right to point out their ridiculous attitude to my millions of followers…er… dozens of followers… and it’s YOUR right to NOT buy from them, and let them know how you feel after reading the ad copy below.

So yes, I say avoid Woot – don’t buy their crappy exercise bike – send them a letter – – on paper – and tell them they Suck at Marketing…the address is below

Woot Inc.
4121 International Parkway
Carrollton, TX 75007
Since they are ticking off the group of people I’m sure their marketing folks figured would love to buy their product maybe they would want to know that…?

Naaahhhhh they probably don’t care and feel like we “can’t take a joke”…

Here’s the site – Woot.com’s Stupid Advertising – the language of their “ad” is typed below…

=================

“An Open Letter to Bikers Everywhere:

How can I put this delicately? No one likes you.

Drivers don’t like you. You block up the road by going too slowly and you make drivers nervous because they can’t tell what you’re going to do next. And please, don’t even menti
on those weird hand signals. No one knows what those are supposed to mean, and I’m pretty sure sometimes you just make them up.

Pedestrians don’t like you either. You take up all the space on the sidewalk and you come through so fast that it’s scary and dangerous. You come up behind people while they’re wearing their headphones and scare them when you whiz by. One of you even ran over my shoe one time!

Other bikers don’t even like you! Other bikers just want to prove that they’re better bikers than you. That they have better equipment and better biking etiquette. They don’t, but that’s not the point. The point is: no one wants you around.

Listen, I’m not saying you have to stop biking, I’m just saying you could be a little more discreet about it. Try to stay out of everybody’s way a little more. Find a way to get your biking fix in in the privacy of your own home.

When you think about it, it’s the only safe and decent option you have.”

============

Well, I guess I do have options – I can write about it – I can tell YOU about it –  I can encourage YOU to write to Woot – I can joke about it – I can encourage YOU to joke about it – and I can certainly NOT buy anything from Woot.com…

Gotta love a Free Market Economy!

 


CYCLIST’S KILLER TO BE SENTENCED ON AUGUST 31 – How YOU Can Participate

On January 31, 2016 Michael Prater was out for a bike ride. He was relatively new to the Cincinnati area but was well known in the cycling community as an avid cyclist. Around 4pm that day Michael was riding westbound along U.S. Route 52 near the Ohio River.  At that same time, unbeknownst to Michael, Melinda Woodall was coming up from behind Michael in a Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Michael was familiar with U.S. 52 – a big, fast road with very wide shoulders and very few intersections/driveways. Many riders use U.S. 52 as a training route and typically ride along the wide shoulder. Michael took this approach on January 31.

Woodall Jeep 3 Read the rest of this entry »


Doo-Dah’s Idiotic “Parody” Taps a Nerve

This story is making the rounds in the bike advocacy media… this fellow apparently has it out for cyclists – He took the time to create this elaborate “float” for the Columbus, Ohio Doo Dah parade – his sign reads “I’ll share the road when you follow the rules” – He depicts his car smashing into a cyclist, with the cyclist landing on the roof…

http://www.thebikecomesfirst.com/ill-share-the-road-when-y…/

Doo-Dah-Parade-1
Of course, his point was to tick off cyclists – the Doo Dah parade likely attracted a demographic in Columbus that tended to support cyclists – the motorist likely certainly succeeded wildly in meeting his goal. And because this is a “free country,” his First Amendment rights were thoroughly protected, of course & the Doo Dah parade has a long, rich history of parody, aggressive parody, political incorrectness and “edgy humor.”
Read the rest of this entry »


Gorillas & Death & Cars and Bikes

Here in Cincinnati the Voices of Humanity are Aghast that a gorilla was killed at the zoo to save the life of a little boy – there is Moral Outrage aimed at the Mom due to her “Careless” behavior in allowing a curious young boy to wander…

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 12.54.44 AM

 

Read the rest of this entry »


Three Foot Bill Passes Ohio House

Today – May 24, 2015 – the Ohio House passed House Bill 154 by a vote of 78-15. The bill now goes on to the Ohio Senate – hopefully, we’ll have success in the Senate and get the bill to the Governor before year’s end… or else we have to start all over again…

In 2013 the Board of the Ohio Bicycle Federation started the long, arduous process of getting a bill passed –  our Three Foot Bill was introduced with fanfare, and without real opposition… On May 20, 2013 I testified in favor of the bill before the Transportation Committee. The original bill had 3 parts – a law requiring  a minimum of three feet of space when passing a cyclist, a second provision which would allow cyclists to go through a red light if the signal detector failed to detect them and a third provision changing the definition of a “bicycle” to incorporate pedal driven vehicles with more than 2 or 3 wheels.

3' Banner Columbus

Read the rest of this entry »


What Sort of Sentences do Hit/Run Killers Get?

What sort of sentences do hit/run killers of cyclists get? It really depends on whether or not you can show the killer was a “bad guy” –

Joseph Knott hit and killed Logan Snedeker. Knott admitted his guilt to two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide and one count each of failure to stop and drunk driving.

The judge sent him away for 9 years.

Logan Snedeker's family watches Sentencing

Read the rest of this entry »


2015 Ohio Fatal Bike Crash – Project

I reported in October that 2015 wasn’t going very well – turns out I was righter than right – 2015 was the worst year for cycling fatalities in Ohio in the past 20+ years. Since 1994 Ohio has averaged almost 16 fatal bike crashes per year – in 2015 we had TWENTY SIX.  A short list of cyclists killed in Ohio in 2015 is below.

We are working on a review of each and every fatal crash. We have obtained the full crash report for most of the crashes and will soon be publishing a detailed summary of each case with our analysis of the cause of the crash, what happened and why, who was at fault… We are also trying to obtain information on any criminal cases arising out of the fatal crashes. Stay tuned…

For now, though, our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those who lost their life riding their bikes on Ohio roads in 2015…

Cyclists Killed In Ohio in 2015

 


OHIO’S 2015 FATAL CRASHES & THE FATAL BIKE CRASH PROJECT

This has been a lousy year – a statistically crappy year – a year in which 18 Ohio cyclists have been killed, so far.

Yes, EIGHTEEN cyclists killed in Ohio so far this year – We average 15-16 fatalities annually – a “good” year statistically for Ohio is 10-11 and a bad year 18+… Recent crashes have been particularly troubling and emotional including the hit/run death of Charles Startup in Oberlin, Ohio and the horrific crash in Brecksville, Ohio in which a pick-up truck made a left turn into the path of FIVE oncoming cyclists, killing Matt Billings and Jim Lambert, and injuring three others.

Our Fatal Crash Project is looking at each and every one of these 18 crashes in detail. As described below, we are obtaining the crash data and will be analyzing and reviewing each crash in the future.

On a broader level thought the GOAL is – NEEDS to be –  ZERO fatalitiesVISION ZERO is a movement to reach that goal – This needs to be the goal of every motorist, and the official goal and policy of every state. Sadly, it is not. In fact, if you read statistical summaries, as I do, you see things like 30,000 traffic deaths in the U.S. is a “good” year. THIRTY THOUSAND INNOCENT PEOPLE WERE KILLED in the United States in completely preventable crashes, yet that’s deemed a “good” year.

THAT, my friends, is crazy talk…

From the Vision Zero website:

The Vision Zero is the Swedish approach to road safety thinking. It can be summarised in one sentence: No loss of life is acceptable. The Vision Zero approach has proven highly successful. It is based on the simple fact that we are human and make mistakes. The road system needs to keep us moving. But it must also be designed to protect us at every turn.

Crash Investigation - Brecksville, Ohio - Two Cyclists Killed

Crash Investigation – Brecksville, Ohio – Two Cyclists Killed

 

Also from Vision Zero

The Vision Zero starts with a statement: we are human and we make mistakes. Our bodies are subject to biomechanical tolerance limits and simply not designed to travel at high-speed. Yet we do so anyway. An effective road safety system must always take human fallibility into account.

Read the rest of this entry »


What do Guns, Roller Coasters and Bicycles Have In Common?

Sounds like a crazy headline – “Gun Shop Ordered to pay nearly $6 Million” to people injured by gun it sold…

The BIG picture of this story is not about guns at all though – it’s about the power of the CIVIL justice system to put financial pressure on businesses to behave lawfully and about holding businesses which operate illegally accountable for the reasonably foreseeable consequences of their illegal behavior.

The story here goes to the heart of a huge problem in the gun world – “straw” buyers – someone who doesn’t qualify to purchase a gun uses some nice [qualified] friend to buy the gun they want – it’s illegal – a serious violation of federal law which can lead to the prosecution of the straw buyer, the person who hired the straw buyer and the gun shop.

Here, 2 police officers were shot in the line of duty by a guy they stopped. That guy wasn’t allowed to buy a gun himself so he used/paid a friend, a”straw” buyer, to buy the gun for him from the defendant gun shop.

From the court evidence the shooter took his buddy, the straw man, to the shop and “… pointed to a Taurus semiautomatic pistol and said, “That’s the one I want,” according to SURVEILLANCE VIDEO… Then he helped his friend,[the straw man] who was struggling to fill out a two-page form. A hovering STORE CLERK helped as well, showing the friend how to correct mistakes and ensure he was listed as the buyer.”

The two cops sued the gun shop in CIVIL court- seeking damages for carelessly allowing the straw purchase.

The “friend” is doing 2 years in prison for participating in the purchase. The shooter got an 80 year sentence or shooting two cops. The gun shop is out of business – but hey… don’t fret, the same owners simply shut down that one and opened a new one. Such is corporate life in America…you can bury the sins of the past in bankruptcy filings or the corporate shell game – then simply reload & fire immediately from the new corporate entity…

The civil justice system can’t put anyone in jail – it can’t prevent bad guys from getting guns – it won’t reach into your home and take your gun and does not prevent qualified buyers from buying as many guns as they want… but the civil justice system CAN provide a very strong financial incentive for gun shops to take the steps required under the law to make sure “Straw” sales don’t happen…

Here, the store’s own surveillance video provided all the evidence the jury needed to determine that the store was “negligent” – NOT “guilty of a crime” but careless in failing to see the straw sale happening in front of its corporate face – indeed, HELPING the straw man complete the forms along with the shooter …

This is the same sort of law which requires bars to stop serving drunks and renders them liable when they DO serve drunks and the very foreseeable bad outcome occurs… you cannot ignore warning signs – a guy falls off the bar stool you’d better stop serving him. A guy points to a gun & tells his buddy “That’s the one I want” – you’d better not make that sale…

Will the judgment hold up on appeal? eh… maybe not… the whole “foreseeability” thing may be a stretch… but this is an example of how the CIVIL justice system can provide another angle to attack greedy, careless, troubling and illegal corporate behavior.

This case is not about “guns” at all – it’s about businesses cheating to make money, and also putting the public at risk through their malfeasance. If a concrete company carelessly, or intentionally, ignores problems in its concrete and as a result a building collapses it can be financially liable for the deaths, injuries and losses – if an amusement park ignores laws regarding safety and a roller coaster flies off the tracks it can be held accountable financially in the civil justice system – If a car manufacturer violates federal law and makes a car that is not crashworthy, it can be held liable financially for the foreseeable injuries and damages… these safety laws are designed to protect the public from the foreseeable results of stupid, careless and illegal behavior.

Where do bicycles fit into this equation. Well, one negative angle, for some anyway, are the “lawyer’s lips” that came into vogue.  Sheldon Brown’s incredible webpage discusses them like this –

  • Because some bicycle users are competent enough to remove their front wheels but not competent enough to secure them properly when they reinstall them, virtually all new bike purchasers have been deprived of the handy function of quick-release front wheels.This has been done by encumbering fork ends with extra hardware, ridges or lumps that keep the wheel sort-of attached even if it has been installed by someone who doesn’t know what he or she is doing. Unfortunately, this means that the quick-release mechanism must be re-adjusted each time it is used, seriously slowing down the operation.Since this extra stuff was installed as a defense against frivolous lawsuits by ambulance-chasing shysters, the extra bumps are sometimes known as “lawyer lips” or “lawyer tabs.”

    As “lawyer lips” have become the norm, they have gradually become more important than they originally were, for two reasons:

  • The prevalence of these secondary retention systems in front, and vertical dropouts in the rear has caused the proliferation of inferior skewer designs that are cheaper to manufacture, but much less secure than traditional skewers.
  • The introduction of disc brakes has caused increased vulnerability of the front axle and skewer, due to the disc brake applying an ejection force that tends to pull the axle out of the fork.

Here, many would argue that the civil justice system failed. I disagree. While hardcore cyclists had no problem with manipulating quick release skewers, bicycles were these racing-oriented features were sold to everyone.  Experts would testify as to how difficult it was to properly set the tension on the skewer. Often failures occurred on the 1st ride, or after the 1st attempt by the novice to attach the wheel to the frame. The failures, when they occurred, were often catastrophic. The higher the risk, the higher the duty of care the law imposes…

Another area where civil justice intertwined with cycling was in the infamous “Skid-Lid” helmet litigation in the 1980s, as well as in any number of product defect cases and crashes arising out of investigations by the Consumer Products Safety Commission.

While the civil justice system is primarily aimed at compensating the victims for losses, when companies are forced to pay for catastrophic damages, they often end up changing their business practices to avoid similar payouts in the future… hitting for-profit businesses in the money belt is usually the most effective mechanism to use to effect change…

Businesses are in business to make money – when they make it through illegal sales, it can come back to bite them… there’s a very good reason why “straw” purchases are illegal – when the gun shop buries its head in the sand and ignores the blatant warning signals that a “straw” purchase is happening it risks some huge financial, and criminal, penalties…