02

Blog

The Tennessee Lifesavers Conference

Bike Law Amy speaks about vulnerable road users

I was asked to speak on the topic of vulnerable roadway users at this year’s Tennessee Lifesavers Conference, hosted by the Governor’s Highway Safety Office (“GHSO”).

The GHSO is a branch of TDOT, and is most well-known for its extensive PSA campaigns statewide in Tennessee: “Click it or Ticket” and “Booze it and Loose It”. My audience was almost entirely made up of law enforcement officers. The Annual Lifesaver’s Conference includes an awards luncheon to recognize officers, and it was a special moment to be able to watch these public servants receive recognition for their work in the field saving lives. The exhibit booths at this conference included the latest in radar detection and breathalyzer technology.  Maybe future Lifesaver’s Conferences will see a Bike Law booth.

StateBadges_Web_TN

The timing for this presentation seemed ripe, coming on the heels of Bike Law Ann’s recent blog post about the continuing serious issues we are all facing dealing with law enforcement officers, both as Bike Law attorneys and cyclists.

My goal going to the Lifesaver’s Conference, was to build a few relationships and make progress on the monumental task of ensuring that officers who respond to a motor vehicle collision involving a bicycle create thorough police reports , collect all the evidence, and ask the right questions. I also wanted to make those who might have a bias towards cyclists begin to reconsider their stance, or at the very least, realize that they have a duty to protect cyclists under Tennessee Law, despite what their personal views may be.

I co-presented with the bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for TDOT, Jessica Wilson.  Jessica and I know each other from the Tennessee Bike Summit, and it was great to be able to present alongside a familiar face. The name of Jessica and I’s presentation was “Every Life Counts: Protecting Our Roadways’ Most Vulnerable Users.”  Jessica detailed the new Tennessee Strategic Highway Safety Plan’s emphasis area on vulnerable roadway users.  She explained who vulnerable roadway users are, and why current statistics give cause for concern: In Tennessee, overall accidents are going down, while the number of vulnerable roadway user victims is increasing. Cyclists share the title vulnerable roadway user with motorcyclists, pedestrians, and the elderly.

My presentation called for audience participation. I needed for each officer in the room to walk away with a few new items to include on their checklists when investigating a crash involving a bicycle, and to take the message back home with them that cyclists need to be protected by law enforcement.

I gave the officers the big picture: I defined the term complete street, gave several examples and broke down the Chattanooga Complete Streets Ordinance.  I spoke about bike tourism and USBRS 23. I unpacked TDOT’s policy requiring inclusion of bike and ped facilities in resurfacing, and redesign projects.

I touched upon municipal leaders from across the state’s pro-bicycle stance, including the exciting news that the Green Lane Project is coming to Memphis, thanks in large part to Mayor A C Wharton, Jr.  My bottom line was that, “in your role as a law enforcement officer, you are going see an increase in bicycles and bicycle facilities on the roadways for a multiplicity of reasons.  You have to adapt to these changes that lie ahead in Tennessee and protect our vulnerable roadway users.”

Then, I used a recent case of mine to educate and spark debate.  I gave the facts of the case:  two cyclists were riding single-file on a wide, smooth road, with reflective gear in daylight.  A driver pulls alongside the rear cyclist and has a verbal altercation, demanding that the he get on the sidewalk. The driver is towing an empty trailer. The driver moves alongside the front cyclist, and there is a heated exchange. The driver pulls away and the empty trailer strikes the cyclist, sending him catapulting straight into the emergency room.  Multiple eyewitnesses call 911. The driver does not stop and alleges not to have known he struck the cyclist. No hit and run charge was filed.  I filed a civil lawsuit against the driver.  I had my mechanical engineer inspect the damage to the bicycle and trailer to determine if it was possible that the driver didn’t feel the impact, as he claimed to the investigating officer. My engineer found that the driver would have heard and felt the contact. I shared the engineer’s report and a few highlights from my deposition of the driver with the officers I presented to at the Lifesavers Conference. As I was hoping, the officers had questions for me.  My favorite question was, “why did the driver yell at the cyclists?” The officer hit the nail on the head.  WHY DID the driver yell at the cyclists?  This was the “ah-hah” moment I was looking for.  One “ah-hah” moment down.  There are a lot more to go.

After my presentation, once the room had cleared out, a Murfreesboro Officer approached me and shared photos of his brand new road bike with me. He recently rode the metric century in the Murfreesboro Bicycle Club’s Hot 100.  Take heart fellow cyclists, things won’t be as they are for much longer, but we do have a lot of hard work advocating ahead. In her post, Ann outlined what our goals need to be; now we execute.

Comments

Peter Wilborn Aug 20, 2019

A camera is necessary kit for every ride. But finding the right camera has been a challenge, until now. My rebuttable presumption: the Ricoh GR III is the best cycling camera of all time. Read on, and if you can prove there’s a better one, let me know. The Ideal Cycling Camera To find the […]

Read More
Human Shield Bike Lane
Bruce Hagen Jul 29, 2019

If you ride bikes around Atlanta, chances are that you know Niklas Vollmer and Andreas Wolfe.  They’re some of the many people in town who seem to live on their bikes and can be seen riding everywhere.  While they both have their “day jobs,” folks in the cycling world know them for their place in […]

Read More
Bruce Hagen Jul 19, 2019

This is a time when advocacy efforts are crucial to making our streets safer for everyone. Within 24 hours from the Two Wheel Tuesday gathering we suffered two more casualties.  On Wednesday morning, Marten Bijvank was on his way to work on his bicycle when he was struck and killed by an unlicensed DUI driver […]

Read More
AJ's Bicycle Shop in Iowa
Jim Freeman Jul 15, 2019

Bicycling Magazine recently published an article titled, “Hey, Bike Shops; Stop Treating Customers Like Garbage.”  The story follows a heavy-set 59 year old’s sad tale of how he was treated poorly from a number of local bike shops.   First and foremost, I would be clear that bikes are for almost everyone.  If you are big, […]

Read More
Bike accident scene
Rick Bernardi Jul 12, 2019

The big bike news out of the Oregon legislature this year was the passage of a Stop as Yield law. This was an enormous legislative victory for Oregon cyclists, the culmination of over a decade of advocacy. But it wasn’t the only legislative victory for Oregon cyclists this legislative session. A less glamorous but equally […]

Read More
Uber Biking Escort
Charlie Thomas Jul 11, 2019

I often find myself wanting to ride on a roadway corridor that doesn’t want me there. At best, I could make it across alive with some close calls and a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. At worst, I wouldn’t be around to write this blog post.  Of course, a safer, alternate route […]

Read More
Cycling Without Age Bike Law
Brian Weiss Jul 11, 2019

The founder of the Lakewood Bicycle Advisory Team loves his life on two wheels. Gary Harty was born in Bellows Falls, Vermont, and raised in Colorado – Denver Metro area, and now makes bicycling in Lakewood, Colorado safe and fun.  Gary is part of the baby boomer generation. He attended Colorado State University (CSU) and […]

Read More
Rachael Maney Bike Law
Rachael Maney Jul 10, 2019

Outrage.  It is what drives action and engagement on the interwebs these days. If it’s not outrageous, it’s boring. The Election of 2018 proved that outrage increases TOS (“time on site”) more than friendship, sympathy, desire, or anything else.  Judgment. By definition it is necessary to reach any conclusion about anything. But passing it on […]

Read More
Stop as Yield for Cyclists
Rick Bernardi Jul 09, 2019

The Oregon Legislature made national news this past week, for all the wrong reasons. The State Senate, with a super-majority of Democrats in control, had been working on climate legislation which would have Oregon join a cap-and-trade market with California and Quebec. Unable to stop the legislation, Republican Senators fled the state en masse, preventing […]

Read More
Bike Law Alps
Charlie Thomas Jul 07, 2019

It’s Tour de France time. I follow the racing daily through the footage on TV feed and still photos. But I hadn’t ever considered what’s happening on the other side of the camera lens. Like, what actually goes into snapping these pictures that we see documenting the Tour’s happenings? I started to care more about […]

Read More
E Bike and insurance
Lauri Boxer-Macomber Jul 01, 2019

Prologue  Last month, I rode across the Casco Bay Bridge to talk e-bikes and insurance with Bob O’Brien, the Vice President of Noyes, Hall and Allen Insurance in South Portland, Maine.  Although I have yet to invest in an e-bike for myself, I have been captivated by e-bikes and their potential to get and keep […]

Read More
Brooke Nelson
Danny Feldman Jul 01, 2019

Brooke Nelson has been the ride director of the Cheaha Challenge (www.cheahachallange.com) since shortly after the 2014 ride and in the past 5 years, ride participation has increased 188%.  Since 2017 when it became the only UCI Qualifier, Alabama’s biggest ride has become known nationally and internationally.  The 2019 ride had participants from 31 states […]

Read More
Load More