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.

The “Right To Travel”

A very interesting decision came out of Ohio’s First Appellate District [Cincinnati/Hamilton County] the other day.

Blue Ash, Ohio has a local “toy vehicle” ordinance that says:
“No person on roller skates or riding in or by any means of any sled, toy vehicle, skateboard or similar device shall be permitted on any street, highway or public lot unless the same is designated and marked as a ‘play street’ or ‘play lot.’ ” Blue Ash Code of Ordinances 311.03(a).

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Ohio’s 2017 Fatal Bicycle Crashes – A Brief Review

While the Ohio Department of Public Safety [ODPS] does not release its “Crash Facts” until later in the year, we can be fairly certain that all of the fatal bicycle crashes have now been reported. I try to track EVERY fatal bike crash in “real time” – meaning I set my Google Alerts to try to pick up media reports and I rely on folks around the state to send me reports that they see.

I’ve reviewed the preliminary ODPS stats, which reflect a total of 19 cyclists killed in Ohio in 2017. I’ll review each crash after we receive the full and complete report from each crash. We will obtain the report, all photos, all cruiser/body cam videos, all field sketches & measurements, all witness statements and any other data available. We will try to determine exactly what happened adn how the crash might have been avoided. We will try to determine if any criminal charges came out of the crash and what happened in the case.

For now, here’s a brief summary of the crashes.

19 Fatal Crashes

Fault Assigned by Police?

10 – Cyclist at Fault
9  – Motorist At Fault

CYCLIST at Fault

3- Not Visible Dark-No lights
– Darting
– Illegally in Roadway
– Wrong Side of Road
3 – “Other improper action”
–  Failure to Yield


–  Failure to Yield
– Left of Center
5 – Follow too closely
– Ran Red Light
– Ran Stop Sign
-Improper Lane Change

Daylight v. Night?

11 – In the DARK
7- Cyclist at Fault
4 – Motorist At Fault


5 – Hit/Skip
4 – In the DARK
3 – Unsolved
4 – Rear-end Collisions
1- Head-On Collision


16 – Communities with Population < 50,000
3  – Communities with Population > 50,000

Counties in which 2 Cyclists were killed?

 – Hamilton
– Franklin
– Cuyahoga
– Tuscarawas

Date County
1/1/17 Montgomery
1/5/17 Tuscarawas
1/6/17 Franklin
2/6/17 Sandusky
2/16/17 Williams
3/10/17 Jackson
5/22/17 Hamilton
6/2/17 Clark
6/30/17 Cuyahoga
8/8/17 Cuyahoga
8/16/17 Franklin
8/18/17 Wayne
8/19/17 Hamilton
9/27/17 Mercer
10/3/17 Holmes
10/24/17 Lorain
10/27/17 Washington
11/1/17 Coshocton
12/14/17 Tuscarawas


Date Victim Age
1/1/17 Wilbur Vanwey 47
1/5/17 Joseph Yoder 46
1/6/17 Jason Bostic 35
2/6/17 John Parish 60
2/16/17 Keith Brown 57
3/10/17 Benjamin Snyder 15
5/22/17 William Rust 61
6/2/17 Kaden Webb 11
6/30/17 Emmanuel Wen 2
8/8/17 Jesse Parker 36
8/16/17 Joshua Richardson 41
8/18/17 Jeremy Grimm 42
8/19/17 Anthony Grace 44
9/27/17 Nicholas Hemmelgarn 67
10/3/17 Nelson J. Miller 30
10/24/17 Jason A Baird 26
10/27/17 Therea Leigh Fillmon 49
11/1/17 Robert Yoder 14
12/14/17 William L. Morris 12


Emmanuel Wen, the two year old listed above, probably should not be listed as a “cyclist.”  Apparently he was riding on a “Big Wheel” type 3 wheeled “toy” when he left the driveway and got onto Cedar Road where he was struck by a large vehicle.

William Rust was killed by an hit/run motorist who was allegedly using heroin. He was killed near the same place on US 52 that Michael Prater was killed a year earlier… by a hit/run motorist using heroin… who is now serving a 13.5 year prison term. We are still waiting for Steve Sickle, William Rust’s killer, to come to trial. His case is set for “Pleas or Trial Setting” on January 8, 2017.

Nineteen people were killed. Nineteen families grieving… friends… relatives… trying to figure out what happened and why. Nineteen separate crashes – 19  deaths out of the … 40,000… or so … which happened due to something stupid or careless on U.S. roads… I hope we, as a country, society, can start to take traffic safety seriously some day…


CURTILAGE? The NRA & AMA Support a Convicted Criminal? And this relates to Bicycles…how??

Curtilage” – that’s a funny word, eh? To lawyers dealing with fundamental constitutional rights, though, it’s a pretty important word. It’s a word that has recently made for some “strange bedfellows”… as shown in recent US Supreme Court filings.

In Collins v. Virginia the question of whether the search of a motorcycle without a warrant was lawful is the question. Collins was convicted of crimes relating to a stolen motorcycle. He challenged the search. “Amicus curiae” [“friend of the court”] Briefs SUPPORTING the criminal defendant’s claim that the search was illegal were filed by both the NRA and the American Motorcycle Association [AMA]!

The “curtilage” of one’s property is the area immediately surrounding a dwelling house which has been given the same protection under the law as was afforded the house itself. The US Supreme Court has held that the Fourth Amendment protects the curtilage of a house and that the extent of the curtilage is determined by factors that bear upon whether an individual reasonably may expect that the area in question should be treated as the home itself. In essence, Police cannot typically search the “curtilage” of one’s home without a warrant.

Here’s one artist’s interesting view of the 4th Amendment issues surrounding property, curtilage, outbuildings, garbage and the like…

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Ohio’s 2017 Bicycle Crash Stats – The Good – The Bad – The Odd – The Ugly

Out with 2017 and onto 2018!
Here are some early returns on numbers… Ohio cyclist crash numbers  – crashes – deaths – for 2017 from the Ohio Department of Traffic Safety’s crash stats page.
These are very preliminary numbers at this point. Ohio generally doesn’t finalize it’s “Crash Facts” report until much later in the year. The “trend” for Ohio is not good, however, and is something we, as advocates, need to study and work on…

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STOOOPID Article In Forbes Says Columbus, Ohio is the SIXTH WORST City for Cycling…

So that venerable cycling magazine – FORBES – comes out with an article written by “Data Journalist” Niall McCarthy… about “the Most Dangerous Cities” in the US for bicycling.

McCarthy concludes that little old Columbus, Ohio was NUMBER SIX – the 6th most dangerous city in the entire country for riding a bike… I was… surprised…

Ok… Well… that sounds interesting… I wonder what data he used.  What other cities were in the Top 10? Since Florida is the league leader in cycling fatalities I’ll bet several Florida cities were in there too, right?

Being a math guy who studies bicycle crashes and researches EVERY fatal bicycle crash in Ohio I was very curious about the data and methodology he developed to reach this somewhat shocking conclusion.

My conclusion? The article is STOOOOOPID… the list is STOOOOPID… why? It’s based on data for cities with populations in excess of 500,000 when some of THE MOST DANGEROUS CITIES have populations less than 500,000.

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OH EM GEEEE – THE SKY IS FALLING! er… well… maybe not so much

The Washington Post published an article with a headline that “Cycling Crash Deaths Are Soaring!”  What…? Wait a minute… soaring?  What numbers are they looking at?

The WP cites to a new report – from the Governors Highway Safety Association – called “A Right to the Road-Understanding and Addressing Bicyclist Safety.”  Did that report say cyclist deaths are “soaring?” What’s going on here…

Maybe a little bit of Chicken Little…

Why do I say that?

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Beer, Bicycling & Cincinnati: A Storied Past!

In 1880 the Cincinnati Cycle Club was founded… as was the League of American Wheelmen [and many other bicycle groups around the country].
Another local club, the Brighton Bicycle Club, was founded, and funded, in that late 1800’s era by two of Cincinnati’s early Beer Barons, John Windsich and Eddie Mulhausser. The BBC had regular rides and races out to the Windsich/Mulhausser farms in Butler County, where the Beer Barons grew barley and hops for their brews.

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Cyclist Killed in NYC – She “Slipped Off her Bike” says NYPD? Huh???

In NYC cops say a cyclist … SLIPPED OFF HER BIKE… and was hit by a truck driver who “made a left turn from the rightmost lane” onto East 9th Street…

Wait… she’s to the left of the truck – the truck driver makes a left turn from the right lane as she is on the left…

“After a box truck driver fatally struck 31-year-old cyclist Kelly Hurley as she rode in the First Avenue bike lane twelve days ago, the NYPD issued a single summons to the driver for not having a crossover mirror. “He didn’t have any issues with his license, he was not driving under the influence, the victim sadly slipped off her bike,” NYPD spokesman Detective Ahmed Nasser told the Voice.”

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How many Ohio cyclists are familiar with their local “bike” ordinances? Can you find them? What do they say? What sort of crazy stuff is buried in there that, while never enforced, might come back to haunt you if you are involved in a crash.
Here’s an example – a rider in Pickerington is struck from behind by an elderly driver. A severe head injury results. The police report comes and says it was the CYCLIST’s fault.. why? Because he was riding on the road instead of the sidewalk and a local ordinance said cyclists must use sidewalks..
But… but… this can’t be right… state law says we can’t be forced off the road…

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THE BIKE LAWYER’S BIKE LAW CLASS – May 2 – Columbus – Part 1: A History Lesson

On May 2, 2017 I will be presenting a 3 Hour “CLE” [Continuing Legal Education] class at the Columbus Bar Association.  I did a one hour CLE for the Cincinnati Bar Association in 2016 and am excited to expand this to 3 hours.

BIKE LAW 101 - CLE for Lawyers 5-2-17




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