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Steve Magas, Ohio's Bike Lawyer

Don't let a bicycle crash turn your life Upside Down! Lost wages and medical bills pile up while you are in pain. The last thing you need is to be taken advantage of by an insurance company.

Steve Magas, The Bike Lawyer, has been protecting the rights of riders for more than 25 years. Steve has handled more than 200 "bike cases" including wrongful death and brain damage cases, and accidents causing riders to suffer major injuries, fractures, disk injuries, back injuries, neck injuries, surgeries, road burns, clavicle and scapula fractures, rotator cuff injuries and more. Steve provides a FREE CONSULTATION to discuss your claim. Call him at 513-484-BIKE [2453] or write to him at bike lawyer [at] aol dot com to discuss your crash TODAY!


In Colorado, something to cheer about – in a 29 page, complex decision the Colorado Supreme Court unanimously holds that Black Hawk’s bike ban conflicts with state law and cannot stand. I would love to see a similar ruling from the Ohio Supreme Court.


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Three in a week – that was last week’s post…

Now it’s FIVE in TWO weeks…  Five cyclists killed from August 27 – September 12, 2012.  Just how “risky” is riding a bike in Ohio?

Five Cycling Deaths in 2 Weeks

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Three Dead in One Week

As we were reeling from the violent death of Andy Gast near Lunken Airport last Tuesday, my inbox lit up a few more times.  On Monday a 46 year old cyclist, Thomas Leonard, had been struck and killed  in the Columbus, Ohio area.  Later in the week, a young cyclist, 18 year old Nathan Smith, was killed in Marion, Ohio.  Ohio’s ninth, tenth and eleventh cycling fatalities of 2012 came in one lousy week…

More than 550 riders showed up on Tuesday night for a Ghost Bike Memorial Ride  thus, again, reinforcing the power of social media.  I was in Columbus all day meeting a cyclist who had his collarbone fractured into 5 pieces by a careless motorist and dropping off a bicycle for an engineer’s inspection – a bike which “failed” catastrophically on the first ride.  My phone was blowing up with emails between the leaders of Cincinnati two biggest cycling advocacy organizations, ride leaders, and others trying to figure out how to get all these people from Point A. to Andrew Gast’s home, and back in a timely, efficient and, most of all, safe manner.

Given the large number of riders, and hte need for help, I decided to ride the Big BIke [BMW r1150RT] and try to provide some support through traffic control while documenting the ride through the camera lens.

The ride was an unparalleled “success” on so many levels.  First, I was able to meet Andrew’s family at Lunken Airport – we were all a bit confused about where the starting point was, but I was able to show them where the crash occurred, and what my “take” was from what I had seen the day of the crash.  The family subsequently was able to be driven along the route with the riders – and participate throughout the evening.

Two of our four TV stations had crews covering the event.  Channel 12 has been on it since Day 1 – Channel 19 had a crew there as well.  The Ride set out in smaller groups of 30 or so – teh “fast” folks leaving for a 14 mph ride first followed by slower groups… black armbands and the presence of the grieving family set a very somber tone… however, the stories about Andy Gast from his family and friends made it clear that he was a man who cherished life- and lived life large – the mood of the ride was outstanding…

I got a call around midnight following the ride from Tommy Broderick.  Tommy is a pretty tough 55 year old racer who had been whacked by a DRUNK DRIVER while riding home from the ride!  Tommy was knocked unconscious in Newport, KY, and taken to teh University Hospital Trauma Center where he was kept overnight and released this morning!

Channel 19 wanted to do a follow up story on Tommy’s crash this evening. I was able to meet the reporter on short notice at the ghost bike site, where we spoke on camera a few minutes while some rather ominous clouds formed all around us… we finished quickly and as he was clearing his gear I snapped some quick photos – I have been learning to use Photomatix HDR software and shot 3 bracketed photos of the Ghost Bike from the ground looking up… I loaded the photos into the software earlier this evening… I thought the final product turned out pretty impressive… below is a low res [<1MB] version of Andy Gast’s Ghost Bike as it looked before tonight’s storms…

I never knew Mr. Gast, but he has had a profound impact on my life…

Andrew’ Gast’s Ghost Bike

Andrew Gast – Ohio’s 11th Cycling Death of 2012 Hits Close To Home

I got a text early Tuesday morning- there was a serious crash near Lunken Airport and a cyclist was Air Cared out… a few minutes later I learned news that the cyclist, Andrew Gast, had passed away.  I live a few miles from Lunken and am very familiar with the 5 mile trail around the airport.  I climbed on the motorcycle with a full camera bag and hustled down… what I saw was, sadly, all too typical of the violent deadly crashes I have been reviewing…

Andrew Gast’s Specialized bike was still stuck in the front end of the car that killed him.

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WORST Crash Report… Ever? YOU Be The Judge

Istvan Takacs was 76 years old when he was struck by a Silverado while riding his bicycle on September 29, 2010 on Rockside Road in the little village of Valley View, Ohio.  There was  very little written in the media about the crash – as I write this I cannot find a single article today.

So what happened?   Well, according to what could take the gold medal as the WORST POLICE REPORT EVER FILED IN A DEATH CASE, the crash happened around 4:00 pm on a clear Wednesday afternoon.  Little else is known. A man was KILLED and the Valley View Police Department issued a three-page “crash report” which contains NO witness statements, NO photographs, NO measurements, NO toxicology reports and NO real “evidence” about what happened.

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2010 Bike Crash Stats – 2010 Bike PEOPLE Killed!

I was a math major many moons ago – got my degree and everything and then made a right angle turn into law school.  Today, my math mind still wraps itself against numbers and stats and such… I also like the physics and mathematical analysis that goes into accident reconstruction analysis.  As many many hardcore gear-head riders know, the math of cycling can also be very intriguing… some would say obsessive… but I digress… what follows will be the first of several upcoming articles looking in great detail at every fatal bicycle crash in Ohio in 2010, 2011 and, eventually 2012…and beyond!

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On Wednesday May 16 I will be speaking at the Columbus, Ohio Ride of Silence.  This ride usually draws BIG crowds –  700+ riders – at the State Capital.

In thinking about what to talk about … there are so many topics it’s hard to know where to start for a brief 10-15 minute presentation.


Certainly the Hit/Run Epidemic should be a topic.  Columbus, and Ohio, has had its share of hit/run fatalities in the cycling world over the past couple years:

- Jeff Stevenson –        5/21/2010 [Columbus]

- Trent Music               11/16/2010 [Columbus]

- James Trammel       9/20/10 [Clermont]

- Kristina Godinez –   6/10/11 [Columbus]

- Martha Miller           12/23/11 – [Logan County]

A quick google search of “hit/run epidemic” reveals stories about such things in Chicago [blaming illegal aliens], LA, Houston, and Miami

As I pointed out in a prior piece - the question of WHY is easy – because a) You Don’t Get Caught or b) You Don’t Get Caught While You’re Still Drunk or c) You Don’t Have Insurance or d) You Have Outstanding Warrants or, the BIG one, e) Even if they DO catch you, you’re not likely to do much time for killing someone… 30 days is apparently the going rate in Columbus…

Another topic is What Cyclists Do Wrong - 

- Run Stop Signs – in 2010 two of the 11 cyclists killed were experienced riders who were struck when they attempted to cross from a bike trail to a road

- Night Riding – This is an ongoing problem – riding at night without appropriate gear. In 2010, the 3 hit/run deaths each involved riders who were unlit.  In 2011 there were four fatal crashes in the dark.  In three the riders were unlit – in one, Martha Miller had full lighting AND a reflective vest as she rode home from her job as an Amish school teacher two days before Christmas…

What Can Help?

To me, CLEARLY, UNEQUIVOCALLY we need to EDUCATE MOTORISTS that Cyclists have the right to use the roads – virtually ANY road in Ohio-  at any time day or night, in any traffic conditions… Until cyclists are simply accepted as one bright thread in the multi-colored “fabric of traffic” we will continue to be seen, and treated, as second class citizens by motorists, and even police officers in many jurisdictions…

In addition to educating motorists, we CLEARLY & UNEQUIVOCALLY need to EDUCATE CYCLISTS – Riders need to understand that once you cross the line – the line that separates the world into two parts – the parts ON the roadway and the parts NOT ON the roadway – once you cross that line and go ON the roadway, you have to take this driving business very seriously.  This means riding LEGALLY – obeying traffic control devices, NOT running red lights and stop signs, NOT weaving through traffic, lane splitting and otherwise behaving as a kid on a toy, not a serious vehicle operator.

Motorcycle training is excellent for this, as I have written many times… the “SEE” approach has the rider looking several seconds up the road for potential problems, developing a plan to deal with those problems and implementing that plan early enough so as to AVOID the potential problems – for cyclists this means SEEING the “door zone ahead and moving out early enough that you are not likely to get zinged by an unseen door opener – or plotting a line through traffic early enough to make an effective, NON-scary left turn… In the motorcycle world, you are taught that this is a constant, ongoing dymanic process which can change second by second… for the cyclist, it’s more foot by foot -

The Ride of Silence is an outstanding event – not a race, just a slow, quiet casual ride which allows riders to MAKE a POINT – we are HERE and we’re NOT GOING AWAY – while quietly remembering, and honoring, those who lost their lives on the roads….

Let’s be careful out there…

Steve Magas


Why Do Motorists Hit Cyclists & Run? Because 30 days is better than 4-8 YEARS!~

In Columbus, the end comes to a criminal case two years in the making. Amber Fernandez was sentenced in the hit/run death of Jeff Stevenson and received a very severe wrist slap – instead of being punished for 4-8 years for killing Jeff Stevenson, or even 1-3 years for the 3rd Degree Felony of Leaving the Scene, the judge gave her a whopping THIRTY DAYS for running away from the scene of what her lawyer called a “freak accident…”

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A Close Look at Doug Morgan’s Columbus, Ohio Slam Dunk Victory

By Steven M. Magas, Ohio’s Bike Lawyer[1]

Early in 2010, my friend, and one of the smartest lawyers I know, Doug Morgan, defended a young cyclist in Franklin County Municipal Court.  The cyclist was cited for “taking the lane” on High Street – i.e. riding towards the center of the lane rather than hugging the white line. The officer cited him for a violation of Ohio’s “AFRAP” law, as adopted in the Columbus, Ohio, City Code.  Doug’s trial strategy should serve as a model for lawyers and cyclists alike in these cases.

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What To Do If You Crash?

By Steven M. Magas, Ohio’s Bike Lawyer

Is Cycling “Safe?”

Statistically, we know that riding a bike on the roadway is a VERY safe thing.  While there are 30-40,000 motorists who die on our roadways each year, the number of cyclist fatalities has dropped considerably from a high of 1000 or so in the mid-1970s to below 700 in 2008.  While motorcycle and pedestrian deaths are UP, cycling deaths are DOWN despite millions of new riders in this latest “Bike Boom!”

One reason for this decrease in cyclist deaths nationwide, I’m sure, is that the demographics of the “typical” cyclist involved in a fatal crash have totally flip-flopped since 1975.  Back in the 1970′s, MOST cycling fatalities involved kids – people under the age of 16 – which meant that riders were somewhat unpredictable.  There were a lot of “Dart Out” cases where children on bikes would suddenly appear on the roadway after darting out from a driveway.

Today, virtually all cycling deaths involved adults – indeed, adult men.   In 2009, almost 90%, 9 out of 10, of all cycling fatalities nationwide involved people OVER the age of 16, and 87% of those were men. The average age of a rider killed on the road today if over 40.Today’s adult riders are more likely to treat operating a bicycle on the roadway the same as driving a car.  They stay in their lane, know the rules of the road and don’t act in stupid or unpredictable ways – most of the time, anyway.

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