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.

Blast From The Past

Blast from the Past – Tony Patrick v. City of Chesapeake, et al…

Tasered Cyclist Tony Patrick Settles Excessive Force Lawsuit came up on my radar the other day – July 2010 – the last news blast on this case when we settled.

taser webpage

Tony Patrick and another younger rider were in to Chesapeake, Ohio – a Lawrence County deputy was sitting in a car in the library parking lot. They were riding side by side on a 2 lane, 25 mph road – they were ordered off the road, erroneously, by a deputy – a …um… verbal fracas… then ensued between Tony & the Deputy which gradually grew more profane as Tony debated the legality of the deputy’s order… the deputy then drove ahead, pulled the “Hawaii 5-0” move of sliding the car to a 45 degree stop in the road – he then got out & pulled his Taser – Tony pulled off into a parking lot & stopped – he was Tasered…twice… the first didn’t really “take” and the Deputy came after Tony with a baton. As Tony danced around the parking lot in cleats, keeping a $7000 racing bike between him and the deputy a 2nd officer from Chesapeake came up from behind and nailed him with the Taser – the second shot hit him behind and really nailed him, causing Tony to slam into the ground – he was cuffed… taken to jail… booked and charged with felonies and misdemeanors – he retained a good criminal lawyer and eventually had the criminal charges tossed out – we then filed an excessive force lawsuit in federal court –


Back in the late 1980’s I was fortunate to be involved in Russo v. city of Cincinnati – one of the very first cases in U.S. legal history in which the word “Taser” appeared. In researching the many other subsequent taser cases, I was not surprised to find that Tony was the ONLY Taser victim in legal case history to slam his head into the ground while wearing a helmet… this probably saved him from extremely serious head injuries.

Eventually, we took depositions of the responding officers in the civil suit – we learned… that the patrol car’s speedometer didn’t work – that the deputy was unfamiliar with “road patrol” issues and had never dealt with cyclists on the road, that evidence collection at the scene was…well… not up to snuff… we also saw the Taser logs and how often they used the Tasers -they claimed all the firings were “test firings” and not shooting “perps” but who knows…



We also learned that the incident may well have been captured on a cruiser cam but the “tape” was taken by the chief and put into a secret “evidence closet” in the chief’s office – a closet with no chain of custody record whatsoever – and the tape was probably taped over at some point – this was interesting because WAY before the lawsuit I filed an FOIA/Public Records request asking for cruiser cam video and was told there was none – Tony’s criminal lawyer did the same and got the same response… learning 2 yrs later in depositions that there WAS a tape was…well… intriguing to say the least…

Those depositions undoubtedly led to a favorable settlement… it took a few years, and some time and money to push through the litigation, but we got it done in the end… the city/county was embarrassed at all the Hoo Haa that erupted – the local paper just kept publishing stuff… and the story was voted one of the Top 10 stories of the year in its year end edition!

What Is Justice?

What is justice?
Today I presented some testimony to the Court in the sentencing of Melinda Woodall. Frank Henson, from QCB, and Derek Drifmeyer from CCC were also present in the courtroom to show support for the Prater family. I was there as a representative of the family as I had represented the family in civil claims and the family had returned to California. I was also there as a member of the “cycling community” and as a representative of the Ohio Bicycle Federation.

Melinda Woodall drove while high, drove off the road and smashed into cyclist Michael Prater, who was riding in the berm – Woodall then drove off, leaving Michael on the side of the road. He died the next day but was never conscious.

Woodall was caught fairly quickly, told  stories to deputies about other people being in the car with her [which police discredited after a thorough investigation] and was found with syringes and drugs hidden on her person. A drug test revealed some 10 different drugs in her system according to Judge Foley today.

Deadly Crash Site Read the rest of this entry »

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?

“” – 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

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 –’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…

Gotta love a Free Market Economy!



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……/

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

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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