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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Recovery...

It has been almost 1 month since I last put up a post. Why is that? Well, work has been very busy, and I figured since I only have 3 followers, it wasn't like I would loose readership if I did not post between now and then. Also, it is cold here in Wisconsin, which means lots of riding on a trainer. That is not very exciting to write about, unless you want movie/TV show suggestions- Bored To Death is an incredibly entertaining and satisfying show in 22 minute increments. Plus, riding the trainer doesn't offer views to take pictures of, unless you have a fetish for basement cabinetry. But further reason is this- I had shoulder surgery yesterday (labrum repair), and I now only have one hand to type with. I am very glad I had it done as I was having trouble performing activities without pain, including cycling. However, post surgery is quite painful as one would expect and doing things with one hand is harder than I anticipated (including typing this at 3:30am because I'm awake & sleeping in a chair sucks). So, the next 6 weeks are all about recovery- rest, sleep, lots of protein rich foods, and hopefully, dear god please, a beer or a glass of wine here & there. (I saw a picture of Lance, after he broke his collarbone & had surgery, eating cheese & drinking wine with Johan- why can't I?- the wine that is. I don't know Lance or Johan so I can't hang with them). This also means that my posts will be sarce again. In the meantime, if you have topic ideas or injury stories of your own to share, please do. I could use something to do while I sit in this chair. At least I should be ready to ride when the weather becomes warmer again!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Much Needed "Tune Up"...

In a prior post, "Big changes start with small steps", I discussed proposed legislation to update some bicycle laws.  This proposal was championed by the Bike Federation.  And I am happy to announce 2011 Assembly Bill 265, a bipartisan bill, was signed on November 21, 2011 by Governor Walker (finally this guy signed a good law that actually helps people).

You can read the Bike Fed release here: http://www.bfw.org/2011/11/17/governor-signs-bicycle-tune-up-bill/

You can also read the actual changes to the statutes here: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/2011/data/AB-265.pdf

However, the biggest changes are as follows:

- Bicycle operator can now have a red rear light in lieu of a red rear reflector

- Term bicycle now includes vehicles propelled by hands acting upon pedals and having wheels any 2 of which are not less than 14 inches in diameter (no word on if a vehicle propelled by only one hand, as opposed to "hands" is still considered a bicycle)

- Bicyclists can now use either arm to signal turns and stops

- A vehicle operator can cross the center line in a no-passing zone (zones either indicated as no passing by signage or a thick center yellow line) to overtake and pass, with care, any vehicle, including a bicycle, traveling at a speed significantly less than the normal speed of traffic at the place of passing.  The passing of another vehicle can only occur if the left side, of the continuos yellow line, is clearly visible and is free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit such overtaking and passing in a safe manner. (There are exceptions when you still cannot pass, so read the law!)

This may be the biggest change to the law- allowing other vehicles to pass where prohibited from doing so either by a continuous yellow middle line or no-passing signage.  This allows passing vehicles to provide more than the 3 feet required to pass a bicycle, thus hopefully ensuring more safety on the roads for all vehicle operators.  This is especially handy when there are cars parked adjacent to curbs, leaves or other hazards near curbs, or riders are riding two abreast but not impeding traffic.  This change also has the most exceptions on when it is ok for a vehicle to disregard a yellow line or no-passing signage, so it is really important to read and understand when it is acceptable to pass under these circumstances.

There are some other changes, as well as exceptions to the rules, but those mentioned are what I believe to be the most important.  I strongly encourage you to click on the above links and read the changes for yourself so you, as a driver and a cyclist, know the law and can enlighten others of it.

These are great steps forward for cyclists in Wisconsin and the Bike Fed should receive much applause.  Hopefully they will be able to do the same with their proposed Vulnerable Users Law.



Thursday, November 10, 2011

Did you know?

I am a nerd, kind of.  But, I am also a lawyer, so I found myself reading Milwaukee Ordinance on bicycles.  What was interesting to me is that per local ordinance 102-15, the following sidewalks are considered bicycle ways:

- all sidewalks within the Hank Aaron Trail
- all sidewalks on grated bridges that are not equipped with bicycle surface plate lanes
- all sidewalks on viaducts and roadways over Menominee River Valley on 6th, 16th, 27th and 35th streets
- all sidewalks along Commerce Ave. in areas designated the Beerline (sweet name) Bike Trail
- all sidewalks over the Milwaukee River on East North Ave. and East Locust St., except the sidewalk on the north side of the Locust Street Bridge

What does this mean?  Well, it means that these sidewalks are actually designated for the use of bicycles specifically, as well as pedestrians.  This is important because according to Milwaukee Ordinance 102-7, the operation of a bicycle is not permitted upon a public sidewalk, unless specifically noted otherwise- hence ordinance 102-15, which provide exceptions to 102-7.

So, memorize where it is acceptable in Milwaukee to ride your bike on a sidewalk, should it be necessary for you to do so (and if you live outside of Milwaukee County, well, you probably do not have sidewalks).  If you ride on the wrong sidewalk (or in the wrong direction apparently) you could find yourself in violation of a Milwaukee Local Ordinance and face a fine (though probably doubtful).

Although, if you are like me, you are probably wondering why the hell I am writing about riding on a sidewalk when I know the street is the place to be.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Inspiration...

I have not been on my bike in a week.  I feel lazy and unhealthy.  I could blame it on an injury, but that does not bother me too much when riding.  Really, I think it is the darkness at 5am and the constantly dropping temps this time of year.  Something about the feeling of a warm bed urges me to ignore the alarm and hibernate for another hour or so, and willingly, my mind and body agree.

So, I am in need of inspiration (and sun).  Nothing like Le Tour to pump me up.  And nothing like... "THE LOOK".

So, if like me, you have been in a funk, enjoy this clip and maybe it will encourage you to get back out riding, unless you liked Jan Ulrich, in which case this clip may encourage you to put your bike away for the winter and get fat and out of shape like he used to do in the off-season.  Inspiring...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7THIhZEP4QM



Friday, October 14, 2011

Hours of Darkness... Part 2

In an earlier entry, I posted about the coming fall season and discussed the use of lights on a bike.  In that post I mentioned the "hours of darkness"- the time during which you are required to use lights on your bike.  I also mentioned I had no idea what those hours actually are.

Well, I know you faithful reader(s?) have been on the edge of your seat waiting for an answer, and... I have one!

The hours of darkness are listed as "the period of time from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour after sunrise and all other times when there is not sufficient natural light to render clearly visible any person or vehicle upon a highway or bicycle way at a distance of 500 feet."

So, there you go.  If you read this, you can congratulate yourself for learning something today.  Applause...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Watch Out for the... Antelope?

Away from politics and back to cycling for now.

Usually I write about the dangers associated with cycling on city streets- cars, buses, defects on the road, etc.  But, you need to be aware of your surroundings as there could be other dangers lurking depending on where you are biking.  Like antelope, in South Africa.

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2011/10/11/safrica-biker-antelope.maxcluer-com

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Proposed Legislation by the Guillotine Governor...

In case you care about your civil rights and in case you want to be able to hold individuals and companies that harm you, intentionally or unintentionally, then you should read the following and contact your Representative and tell them to oppose the following proposed legislation.

Why?  Cause as I have said before, this is not about right versus left, or republican versus democrat.  No... this is about good versus evil.  This is about the citizens of Wisconsin versus the devil incarnate (Gov. Walker).  This is about protection of the rights of the citizens of Wisconsin.

You have to understand that these bills do not just effect lawyers or democrats adversely.  These proposed bills EFFECT EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN WISCONSIN, regardless of income, race or political affiliation.

Have a consumer problem with a bank- sorry, cannot help you because Guillotine Governor capped attorney's fees, so now you have to have a huge economic loss in order to make bringing the case viable.

Did and FDA approved drug kill a loved one?  To bad, we cannot help you because the Guillotine Governor has granted immunity in this area.  But condolences.

I have already discussed how his "jobs" bill/ legislation is just a cozy, inspiring front to what really is an all out attack on the citizens of Wisconsin.  He wants to demolish your right to hold someone accountable when that person or entity harms you.  He wants to sleep with big business and take the money they leave on the night stand after they are done with him.  And this is all at the expense of the rights of the citizens of Wisconsin, who he and big business could not give a shit about.  Screw accountability, make money!

Here are drafts of the proposed bills:


2011 − 2012 LEGISLATURE
2011 BILL
AN ACT to amend 895.047 (1) (intro.); and to create 895.0475 of the statutes; relating to: providing immunity from liability to drug and device manufacturers and sellers under certain circumstances.

Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
            This bill provides immunity from liability to a manufacturer or a seller of a drug or device for any claim based on strict liability for a defect in the drug or device if the drug or device was approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at the time the drug or device left the control of the manufacturer or seller. The bill also provides immunity from liability to a manufacturer or seller of a drug or device for any claim based on the failure to warn of the risk of the drug or device if labeling for the drug or device was made available to the consumer or the person who prescribed the drug or device and the labeling was in compliance with applicable standards established by the FDA at the time the drug or device left the control of the manufacturer or seller.

            The bill defines a “device” as an instrument, apparatus, implement, machine, contrivance, implant, in vitro reagent or other similar or related article, including any component, part, or accessory, which does not achieve any of its principal intended purposes through chemical action within or on the body of a person or other animal, is not dependent upon being metabolized for the achievement of any of its principal intended purposes, and is: (a) recognized by the U.S. pharmacopoeia and national formulary or official homeopathic pharmacopoeia of the United States, or any supplement to either of them; (b) intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease or other conditions in persons or other animals; or (c) intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of persons or other animals. The bill defines a “drug” as: 1) any substance recognized as a drug in the official U.S. pharmacopoeia and national formulary or official homeopathic pharmacopoeia of the United States or any supplement to either of them; 2) any substance intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease or other conditions in persons or other animals; 3) any substance other than a device or food intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of persons or other animals; or 4) any substance intended for use as a component of any article specified in items 1) to 3), above, but does not include gases or devices or articles intended for use or consumption in or for mechanical, industrial, manufacturing, or scientific applications or purposes. The bill defines a “manufacturer” as an entity licensed or approved by the FDA to engage in the manufacture of drugs or devices. The bill defines an “entity” as a corporation, partnership, or association.

The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do enact as follows:
SECTION 1. 895.047 (1) (intro.) of the statutes, as created by 2011 Wisconsin Act
2, is amended to read:
            895.047 (1) LIABILITY OF MANUFACTURER. (intro.) In Except as provided in s. 895.0475, in an action for damages caused by a manufactured product based on a claim of strict liability, a manufacturer is liable to a claimant if the claimant establishes all of the following by a preponderance of the evidence:
            SECTION 2. 895.0475 of the statutes is created to read:
895.0475 Product liability; drugs and devices. (1) DEFINITIONS. In this section:
            (a) “Device” has the meaning given in s. 450.01 (6).
            (b) “Drug” has the meaning given in s. 450.01 (10).
            (c) “Entity” means a corporation, partnership, or association.
            (d) “Manufacturer” means an entity licensed or approved by the federal food and drug administration to engage in the manufacture of drugs or devices, consistent with the definition of “manufacturer” under the federal food and drug administration’s regulations and interpreted guidances implementing the federal Prescription Drug Marketing Act.

            (2) LIABILITY OF MANUFACTURER OR SELLER; STRICT LIABILITY. Except as provided in sub. (4), a manufacturer or a seller of a drug or device is immune from civil liability for any claim based on strict liability for a defect in the design of a drug or device if the drug or device was approved for safety and efficacy by the federal food and drug administration at the time the drug or device left the control of the manufacturer or seller. A drug or device approved pursuant to the procedures under section 510 (k) of the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, 21 USC 360, shall not be considered approved for safety and efficacy by the federal food and drug administration for the purposes of this subsection.

            (3) LIABILITY OF MANUFACTURER OR SELLER; FAILURE TO WARN. Except as provided in sub. (4), a manufacturer or a seller of a drug or device is immune from civil liability for any claim based on the failure to adequately warn of risk of a drug or device if labeling for the drug or device was made available to the consumer or to the person who prescribed the drug or device to the consumer and the labeling was in compliance with the federal food and drug administration’s applicable standards for labeling at the time the drug or device left the control of the manufacturer or seller.

            (4) EXCEPTION; FRAUD. Immunity under subs. (2) and (3) shall not extend to a claim brought against a manufacturer or a seller of a drug or device if the federal food and drug administration determines that the manufacturer or seller committed a fraud against the federal food and drug administration with regard to the product at issue in the claim.

            SECTION 3.0Initial applicability.

             (1) The treatment of section 895.0475 (2) of the statutes first applies to a claim based on strict liability commenced on the effective date of this subsection.
            (2) The treatment of section 895.0475 (3) of the statutes first applies to a claim based on failure to warn of risk commenced on the effective date of this subsection.
(END)



2011 − 2012 LEGISLATURE
2011 BILL
AN ACT to create 814.045 of the statutes; relating to: factors for determining the reasonableness of attorney fees.

Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau

            Under current law, in certain civil actions a court may grant reasonable attorney fees to a prevailing party or may be asked to determine whether attorney fees sought by a party are reasonable. Under this bill, to determine whether to award attorney fees and whether the attorney fees are reasonable, the court must consider several factors.

            Under the bill, the factors that the court must consider include the time and labor required by the attorney, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the complexity of the case; the skills needed to perform the legal service properly; the likelihood that the acceptance of the particular case prevented the attorney from accepting other work; the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services; the amount involved in the legal dispute and the results obtained; the fees granted in similar cases; the time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances; the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client; the experience, reputation, and ability of the attorney performing the services; whether the fee is fixed or contingent; and the legitimacy of any defenses raised in the case.

            The bill also limits attorney fees to three times the amount of compensatory damages awarded, except in cases where only nonmonetary relief is awarded or in cases involving both compensatory damages and nonmonetary relief. The bill does not place a limit on attorney fees in cases where only nonmonetary relief is awarded, so long as the court considers the factors set forth in the bill. In cases where both compensatory damages and nonmonetary relief is awarded, the bill sets forth a presumption that a reasonable attorney fee is not more than three times the amount of compensatory damages awarded, but allows a court to determine that a greater amount is reasonable if the court considers all of the factors set forth in the bill.

The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:

            SECTION 1. 814.045 of the statutes is created to read:

            814.045 Attorney fees; reasonableness. (1) Subject to sub. (2), in any action involving the award of attorney fees that are not governed by s. 814.04 (1) or involving a dispute over the reasonableness of attorney fees, the court shall, in determining whether to award attorney fees and in determining whether the attorney fees are reasonable, consider all of the following:
            (a) The time and labor required by the attorney.
            (b) The novelty and difficulty of the questions involved in the action.
            (c) The skill requisite to perform the legal service properly.
            (d) The likelihood that the acceptance of the particular case precluded other employment by the attorney.
            (e) The fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services.
            (f) The amount of damages involved in the action.
            (g) The results obtained in the action.
            (h) The time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances of the action.
            (i) The nature and length of the attorney’s professional relationship with his or her client.
            (j) The experience, reputation, and ability of the attorney.
            (k) Whether the fee is fixed or contingent.
            (L) The complexity of the case.
            (m) Awards of costs and fees in similar cases.
            (n) The legitimacy or strength of any defenses or affirmative defenses asserted in the action.
            (p) Other factors the court deems important or necessary to consider under the circumstances of the case.

            (2) (a) Except as provided in par. (c), in any action in which compensatory damages are awarded, reasonable attorney fees may not exceed 3 times the amount of the compensatory damages awarded.
            (b) In any action in which compensatory damages are not awarded but injunctive or declaratory relief, rescission or modification, or specific performance is ordered, reasonable attorney fees shall be determined according to the factors set forth in sub. (1).
            (c) In any action in which compensatory damages are awarded and injunctive or declaratory relief, rescission or modification, or specific performance is ordered, the court shall presume that reasonable attorney fees do not exceed 3 times the amount of the compensatory damages awarded, but this presumption may be overcome if the court determines, after considering the factors set forth in sub. (1), that a greater amount is reasonable.
(END)





Also, check out this great article on the horrific impact these proposed will have if passed, which are similar to the bill passed in Michigan:

http://centerjd.org/archives/studies/MIDrugImmunityF.pdf

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE contact your Representative and tell them to oppose these bills.  This effects everyone on all sides of the political spectrum.




Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Civil Justice and the Guillotine Governor...

Ever since his election as Governor of Wisconsin in November 2010, civil justice in this state has inched closer and closer to the guillotine.  In the name of "job creation" and "tort reform" (fancy terms of art which really equate to "I, the Governor of Wisconsin, am sleeping with corporations and to pay them back for electing me, I will allow them to do business here with impunity), he has consistently set out to eliminate any recourse for people injured or killed in this state.  It is so very sad that this state elected him as Governor.  He is supposed to care for, protect, and nourish us, as citizens of the State of Wisconsin.  Instead, he cares for, protects and nourishes the corporations which elected him to power.

He claims to help us by "job creation".  But is he really creating jobs? What jobs is he killing in order to create? And at what cost?

I am a lawyer.  More importantly, I am a civil litigator for individuals who have been harmed through no fault of their own.  I fight for those who have been wronged and cannot fight for themselves.  It is an honor.

However, ever since January 2011 (really November 2010 because we all know the bills introduced in January were drafted even before he was elected) the law (my tool- the mechanism I use to help people)  protecting the civil rights of the citizens of Wisconsin has quickly eroded.

Below is a letter I have sent to various news outlets in the hopes that it will be published, people will read it, and people will oppose the bills I discuss.  Why should these bills be opposed?  Quite simply, the ONLY purpose these bills will be introduced is to severely limit the rights of injured peoples to obtain fair, just and reasonable compensation for injuries they sustain due to the fault of others.  This is not "job creation" or "tort reform".  Bill proposals like this is a declaration of "Screw Accountability".

This is a democracy and we have certain rights and means to pursue those rights.  He cannot and should not take those rights away with autocratic rule.

Civil rights means a lot more than phony "job creation". Please read on and oppose the upcoming legislation:


WAKE UP CITIZENS OF WISCONSIN- DEATH OF CIVIL JUSTICE IS NEAR AS GOVERNOR PLACES IT ON THE GUILLOTINE

I have felt it coming ever since he was elected Governor of Wisconsin in November 2010. It began with tremors, that led to outrage (voiced prominently by Unions), which has led to an all out assault by him against the citizens of Wisconsin.

Under the guise of “tort-reform” and “job creation”, he has, and continues to, demolish accountability and responsibility for those businesses, corporations, and reckless individuals that injure others.  But, he has traveled the state and found that employers and workers want a sense of certainty.  However, the only thing certain is that he is out to undermine our civil justice system and prevent persons injured in Wisconsin from seeking compensation they rightfully deserve.

He has already made it incredibly costly (and near impossible) to pursue doctors and nursing homes that negligently or intentionally injure patients.  These people now have little to no recourse for the injuries they sustain due to such carelessness because somehow, his “protections” create jobs.

He has put a severe cap on punitive damages.  The award of such damages is to punish the person/company that committed the wrong and to show that tortfeasor that such conduct is reprehensible and should never happen again.  Now, because “screw accountability” is his motto, said individuals or corporations may merely receive a slap on the wrist even though their actions killed a person, and the individual or corporation knew their actions could result in death.

Now he attempts to pass legislation, which again hurts all citizens.  But hey, hurting citizens is fine with him as long as he can later say, “I created jobs.”  These proposals are LRB 2670, LRB 2890, LRB 2939, LRB 2966 and LRB 2838, and will be discussed March 29, 2011.

He wants to provide immunity from lawsuits to manufacturers and sellers of medical devices/drugs if: their product received approval from the FDA (ever heard of recalls or false tests?); in a failure to warn case, the labeling was made available to the consumer, the person who prescribed the drug/device, and the labeling was in compliance with established FDA standards; and no defect in design if it undergoes a strenuous (like a tough work out?) FDA approval process.

Again, this is in the name of “tort reform” (which really means “Hey, companies, come to Wisconsin- you can produce products that kill my citizens but I, the Governor, have made it so no one will sue you and you can keep on killing) and “job creation” (which is a fancy term of art meaning screw accountability, lets make money and it does not matter at whose expense). 


So WAKE UP WISCONSIN, and oppose these proposals.  “Tort reform” and “job creation” are just terms a sneaky politician uses to lure you in to favoring his goals and forever abdicating your ability to obtain civil justice for an injury you sustain at no fault of your own.

Brewers....

While riding this morning, I saw what is pictured below projected onto part of Miller Brewery.  Very cool.  Go Crew!



Friday, September 23, 2011

Big Changes Start With Small Steps...

Last week, at the end of my post, I hinted that this week's post would be about helmets.  Well, sorry.  It will not be.

Now that it is darker later in the morning and earlier at night, I had to dig out the bike lights for my road bike, check the batteries, and attach.  As I rode mile after mile looking at another rider's rear red blinking light in front of me, I could not help but think back to an older blog entry I posted: "The Hours of Darkness."

In that entry, I discussed the rules regarding lights and reflectors on bicycles, such as where those items should be located on a bike and when the lights need to be turned on.  What baffled me was that the law stated, "a lamp emitting a red or flashing amber light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear may be used in addition to but not in lieu of the red reflector."  Thus, if you only emitted a red light from a rear lamp, and had no red reflector attached to the rear of your bike, you were in violation of the law.

What!?  According to the law, a reflector, which only reflects light if light is produced upon the reflector, is better than a bright blinking (or steady) red light.  Ah yes, that does make absolutely perfect nonsense.  However, just like having to signal turns with only your left hand  (which if you ride in a group you know is a big no no), these laws are throw backs to older times when drivers had to stick their arms out of automobiles to signal to other drivers that a turn was imminent and batteries and red rear lamps did not exist (I think, not sure on the batteries and am not going to research for sake of this entry).

So, I came in to work today intent on writing a piece on why some laws for cyclists should change to reflect changes in society and innovation.  And then I opened the Off the Couch blog on JSOnline and found out that the Bike Fed already has a legislative effort in place to change these laws: to let cyclists signal with either hand, and dispense with the red reflector if a red rear light is used, among some other changes. YAY!

So I will not wax poetic today dear readers.  Instead, I have included the following links for you to read about this issue (don't worry, the articles are short and worth looking at).

http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/sports/offthecouch.html

http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/crime_and_courts/blog/article_3c7eb8d8-e3ca-11e0-8037-001cc4c002e0.html

Next week... maybe helmets.

Have a great, safe weekend.  And if you are a Tosa Spokesmen riding to Madison on Saturday- good luck, stay safe, and enjoy the beer at the end!

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Door Prize...

I'm pretty busy at work, so don't have time to do a proper post today.  I know... my 3 loyal fans will be disappointed.

However, I did see this on the Wisconsin Department of Transportation website:

http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/safety/vehicle/bicycle/rules.htm


Don't get the door prize!

  • Ride in a straight line three feet out from parked cars. You'll avoid car doors that open in front of you and you'll be more visible to other drivers.
  • Don't pull into the space between parked cars. Ride just to the right of the actual traffic line, not alongside the curb.
  • Ride straight, three feet from parked cars - don't get "doored"
Ride three feet from cars, don't weave in and out


Now, it is good advice from the DOT to ride in a straight line three feet from parked cars and not to weave in and out.


What I don't like is how the DOT, 1) equates getting hit by a car door a "prize" (I picture Bob Barker opening the car door as I pass, hitting me with it, and then telling me to "come on down" as I am the next contestant on car door v. bike), and 2) implies that if a cyclist does get hit by a car door, it is almost certainly the cyclist's fault (hence the language "you'll avoid car doors that open in front of you" and "don't get doored").


While the DOT points out a real danger for cyclists and tells cyclists to remain visible, it ignores the fact that the driver of a car has a duty to look and make sure it is safe to open a car door that opens into traffic.  In fact, later on in the section "Motorist Reminders", the DOT does not even mention that a driver should look to make sure the lane of traffic adjacent to the car door is free from other vehicles before opening the car door.


I'll be sure to do my best to avoid the door "prize", but I am only half the equation and I sure hope users exiting cars do not give me the door "prize".  


At least the DOT reminds motorists that bicycles belong on the road.  However, the DOT should do a better job reminding motorists that motorists have certain duties to maintain safety on the roads for all users.


Next week's post- I'm thinking helmets.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Thank You!

I wanted to take a quick opportunity to thank two new readers and followers of my blog- my grandparents!  I have learned that they read and follow my posts old school style- via a printed out copy.  I imagine that instead of reading and then tossing the post away, they 3-hole punch it and add it to a binder in case they want to look back on older posts. That way, when I see them next time, they can tell me that my writing has not improved, but in fact has progressively declined.  (That would probably be what my grandpa would say anyway)

Anywho, thanks to my grandparents for reading, and to all of you who take 30 seconds out of your day to glance at my blog.

Hope to have a new post soon.  If you have ideas on a topic, feel free to email me.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Velominati... Espresso Drinking Enforcers of the Unwritten Cycling Rules

It is Friday, and on Friday I try to post something fun (get it... Fun Friday).  If you live in Wisconsin, specifically SE Wisconsin, you will notice that the forecast for the weather today looks anything but fun.  Right now it is sunny, but the wind is howling (I am pretty sure I saw a golfer at Blue Mound just blow of the tee box on the first hole, though he may be about 95 (both age and weight)), and storms are coming in. Which means you may have plenty of time to sit inside and read my post and embedded link.

I rode briefly this morning, just in case I cannot get out this afternoon with a friend.  It was a pleasant 80 degrees and balmy with light winds around 20mph, at 5:45 a.m.  But 6 or so of us rode on, lost one guy due to time constraints and one guy was left behind due to two flats and no spare tubes- left with only a cell phone to call his wife and wake her up to come drive him and his steed home.  I hope he at least bought her a cup of coffee.

Which gets me to the FUN part of this post.  Someone sent me these sacred "Rules"for cyclists, which were written by the Velominati... Keepers of the Cog.  (I'm guessing some sacred sect from Italy who ride secretly among us and will punish any rider who gets out of line or threatens the order, like in that movie with Audrey Tatou and that guy from the movie Big).

At any rate, enjoy reading these rules as they are quite hilarious.  And later today, hopefully I will resist the urge to stay inside if it storms, and instead get out for a ride. Then I will officially be a BADASS pursuant to Rule #9, both because I am riding in stormy weather and it will be 90 degrees.  Booyah!

http://www.velominati.com/blog/the-rules/

Thursday, August 25, 2011

An update to the previous post...

In case you read my earlier post and would like help drafting an email or letter to your State Senator imploring them to oppose Senate Bill 125, I attach my email to Senator Leah Vukmir.  Also, here is website to find your senator's contact information.  (I thank my friend Steve for assisting me with this).

http://legis.wisconsin.gov/w3asp/contact/legislatorslist.aspx?house=senate



Dear Senator Vukmir, 

I am writing to encourage you to oppose Senate Bill 125.  As you know Wisconsin Statute § 893.83 provides a citizen or other user of a highway (road, sidewalk, bridge) in Wisconsin to obtain compensation for injuries he or she may have sustained due to a highway defect.  There is a cap in place of $50,000, which is incredibly minimal and does not always fully compensate an injured individual.  As you also know, proposed Senate Bill 125 completely obliterates all accountability by a municipality for any highway defect, leaving a citizen injured by a highway defect with absolutely no recourse for compensation.  This is hardly "justice", something we pride ourselves on in Wisconsin.  In fact, what this truly is is the Wisconsin government doing away with accountability in the name of saving money.

This bill protects the government only, and not its citizens.  The government is elected to protect its citizens.  While the current climate favors a bill that could potentially save government dollars, this bill lacks any proof of savings for municipalities.  The only hardcore proof is that if this bill is passed, municipalities will no longer be accountable for their negligent acts relating to highway defects.  

Should Senate Bill 125 pass, there will be no municipality to be held accountable for the injuries such negligence caused to a citizen.  I would rather pay a tiny fraction of an occasional award knowing that if my family or I were in an accident, I would be entitled to a similar award.

This bill will affect every user of the road- car, motorcycle, bicyclist, rollerbladder, scooter operator, etc.  I hope you vote against this bill and change your current trend of enacting laws that say "Screw Accountability, Save Money".

I encourage you to check out my blog for more information: http://spokesconnectingthebikingandlegalhubs.blogspot.com/




Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"SCREW ACCOUNTABILITY, SAVE MONEY!" A current trend in legislative actions in Wisconsin...


While my posts normally deal with cyclists and cycling rights, today has to do with ALL USERS of roads and sidewalks. 

The Republican majority government, this year, has already severely limited the ability for injured people in Wisconsin to obtain reasonable compensation for their injuries. 

Now, legislators in Wisconsin want to do away with the minimal liability cities, villages, towns and counties have for injuries sustained as a result of highway defects.  The Assembly and Senate introduced separate bills, which say the same exact thing.  The links to the PDF’s are attached here:



The bills propose ELIMINATING MUNICIPAL LIABILITY for highway defects.

Why should I care, you ask?  Why should I continue to read this left-leaning blogger? 

Well, this bill, if passed WILL AFFECT ALL USERS OF THE ROAD!  I’m not talking just cyclists here, but drivers of cars, scooters, motorized wheelchairs, pedestrians, etc.  So unless you spend your days and nights cooped up in your home, this will affect YOU!

So, what exactly is going on here, you ask.  I’ll tell you.  Wisconsin Statute § 893.83 provides liability for damages up to $50,000 to a person or property resulting from an insufficiency or want of repair (“defect”) of a highway, which includes shoulders, sidewalks and bridges.  Thus, if you are injured while travelling upon a highway due to a defect, you can sue the proper municipality and recover up to $50,000, depending on your injuries and property damage.  This compensation is terribly minimal and may not cover all of your damages, but it is something.

However, the proposed changes to Wis. Stat. § 893.83 do not modify what a defect is, what parts of the highway are subject to liability or what the cap on damages is under this section.  No, what the proposed legislation does is COMPLETELY REMOVE LIABILITY on the part of cities, villages, towns and counties, for injuries caused by defects in a highway.

Instead of the possibility of up to $50,000 (an incredibly small amount of compensation for most personal injuries) for injuries sustained as a result of a highway defect, you will now have the wonderful possibility of receiving absolutely nothing for the injuries you sustained as a the result of a municipality’s negligence.  Maybe you will get lucky and receive an “Oops, sorry we failed to repair that bridge, but at least that pile of rocks broke your fall” letter. 

Why the proposed change?  The people who introduced the bills, Sen. Glenn Grothman (R- West Bend) and first-term Rep. Andre Jacque (R- Bellevue) claim that money saved on lawsuits will be spent on repairing roads and bridges.

As a counter-point, there is no evidence that insurance rates will drop for local governments just because municipal liability is obliterated for highway defects.  Second, very few lawsuits are filed and won against municipalities for highway defects, so it is hard to understand what, if any, money is being saved by eliminating liability. 

In fact, just look at the fiscal estimates to see that all they can do is speculate on what amount of money eliminating liability might save a municipality.  (The potential money saved is not listed, just a vague “it may save municipality money” is discussed).




Third, there is no guarantee that any money saved because of this proposal will go straight into repairing bridges and highways.

Finally, this is bad public policy and such a proposal removes ALL ACCOUNTABILITY municipalities have to those who use its highways, roadways, sidewalks and bridges.  A cap of $50,000 is not much to compensate those who sustain serious, or minor, injuries due to highway defects, but it was something.  It at least forced a municipality to BE ACCOUNTABLE FOR ITS ACTIONS (OR LACK THEREOF). 

So, even if you are not a cyclist, this proposed amendment to a statute AFFECTS ALL USERS OF THE ROAD, and as a user of the road, you should be very concerned what this might mean for you. 

It is easy to think “so what, I will never be injured by a highway defect.”  However, the time may come when you need accountability for an injury you sustained while on a highway, and it is better to have the option to hold someone accountable then to not have the option at all.


So please, oppose these bills and protect all users of the road.  The current legislative attitude of “SCREW ACCOUNTABILITY, SAVE MONEY” needs to stop.  Attitudes, and new/proposed laws like these bills, adversely impact all citizens of Wisconsin.  Officials are elected to act in the best interests of the residents of Wisconsin, and this proposed legislation does not accomplish this responsibility. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Short, Illustrated, Story...

Alas, we are growing closer to the fall season.  How do I know besides my calendar telling me so?  Because when I am out riding during the week, the sun is slowly waking up.  Yes, now when I get out of bed at 5:15 am,  I look out the window and the sun does not greet me.  Instead, the sun-free-sky tells me I should go back to bed and try again later. (Then I recall I had some of these last night and was up until 11, so maybe I should crawl back into bed)



However, like Johnny Hoogerland, I persevere.  A quick espresso, get the gear on, and I'm out the door.


As I make my way, leisurely, to downtown T-town, I can't help but notice that, not only is the sun not really out yet, but also the temperature has been slowly declining in the morning hours.  (Note: get long sleeve jersey out of storage.)

Next I see lots of yawns, bleary eyes, and slow moving legs.  And no, I am not talking about college kids (or my uncles) just heading home from a night out at Leff's (or Tom Boonen for that matter).  I meet the group (Tuesday and Friday at Cafe Hollander in Tosa, 5:45 am), and off we go to tackle this...

Nothing like the burn of 21 switchbacks in the morning.  It is awesome you can find climbs like this right outside of Milwaukee.

As we roll on, I am reminded that, most days, the view is totally worth the 5:15 am curtain call.



(Picture most definitely taken halfway up Alpe d'Huez, just ignore Miller Brewery in the background)





Unless of course, the view looks more like this...




Ahh yes, good times.  After a great ride and even better views, I'm ready to dominate the day.  And of course, after a day of domination, I get to enjoy a glass or two of this... 


Then, lather, rinse and repeat almost every day.

Doesn't that make you want to join me for a morning ride?  Get out and on the bike and see what you are missing while sleeping in- before old man winter arrives.

Friday, August 5, 2011

IS YOUR BIKE A "VEHICLE" OR A PEDESTRIAN"? TIS THE QUESTION...


            When riding your bicycle, it is important to know what your duties and obligations are to other users of the road.  Also, you need to know what duties and obligations other users have to you as a cyclist. 

            What your duties and obligations are, and what rights you have with respect to other users depends on how/where you are riding your bicycle- either “upon a roadway” or in a “pedestrian-like” capacity.[1]

            If a bicycle is being pedaled on a roadway or highway, it is a vehicle.  When the bicycle is a vehicle, its rider is entitled to the same rights and subject to the same responsibilities as the driver of a car (many rights and responsibilities I have discussed in earlier blog posts- but I know you know that dear reader because you have already read those posts many times over and memorized them). 
           
            There are additional rights, restrictions, and duties for users of a bicycle- such as you cannot go UCI pro style and hold on to a car to grab a couple extra water bottles for your mates up the road, or Cavendish style and have the team car take you up Brookfield Road (this was alleged to have happened to Cavendish during the Tour (not on Brookfield Road) and has never been confirmed through any evidence). 

            So, when is a cyclist acting in a “pedestrian-like” manner?  Well, if a cyclist dismounts, he or she becomes a pedestrian.  A cyclist can also act in a “pedestrian-like” manner when the cyclist operates on a sidewalk and also within crosswalks.  Since the cyclist is a pedestrian in a scenario like this, the rules of the road, including the right-of-way, differ, than when a cyclist is a vehicle.

            If the cyclist is a pedestrian, and at an intersection or crosswalk where traffic is controlled by traffic control signals or by a traffic officer, the operator of a vehicle (car, bike, motorcycle, etc.) shall yield the right of way to a pedestrian, or to a person riding a bicycle in a manner which is consistent with the safe use of the crosswalk by pedestrians, who has started to cross the highway on a green or “Walk” signal.[2]  The same goes for pedestrians or cyclists who are crossing in a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an uncontrolled intersection.[3]

            Further, if the cyclist is acting in a “pedestrian-like” manner, the cyclist crossing a roadway at any other point other than within a marked or unmarked crosswalk shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.  This only applies to cyclists acting in a “pedestrian-like” manner and not bicyclists operating “upon a roadway”.[4]

            Thus, it is important to know, while riding your bicycle, whether you qualify as vehicle or a pedestrian, because the rules of the road may differ depending upon the capacity in which bicyclist chooses to operate.  Ultimately, that may mean the difference of who is at fault should a bicyclist be involved in a collision. 


[1] See Chernetski v. American Family Mut. Ins. Co., 183 Wis. 2d 68, 515 N.W.2d 283 (Wis.App. 1994)
[2] See Wis. Stat. § 346.23(1)
[3] See Wis. Stat. § 346.24
[4] See Wis. Stat. § 346.25 and Chernetski

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Can't argue with this Mayor's style...

In case you don't follow my law firm's twitter account (AikenScopturSC) or mine (JamesScoptur), I thought I would post this video.

This mayor came up with an ingenious way to remove cars parked in/obstructing bike lanes.  Question is... anyone here have a tank?

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26184891/vp/43988242#43988242

Friday, July 22, 2011

Check out this video...

This guy in New York got a ticket for NOT riding in the bike line.  As he posits, maybe that is because other objects are in the bike lanes cyclists in NYC are supposed to use.  Check out his protest video here...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzE-IMaegzQ

Friday, June 17, 2011

THE "HOURS OF DARKNESS"


             Now that summer is kind of here, I bet there are plenty of riders who like to take a ride around town in the evening.  I know I like to take a leisurely stroll on my bike, just to see what is going on in the neighborhood or head down to the village for some dinner.

            As the early evening turns to nightfall (though this applies to any “hours of darkness”), it is important to remain visible while on your bike.  Under Wisconsin law (Wis. Stat. §347.489(1)), a person may not operate a bike during the hours of darkness unless:

            1)            The bicycle is equipped, or the operator is wearing, a lamp emitting a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front of the bicycle; and
           
            2)            The bicycle is equipped with a red reflector that has a diameter of at least 2 inches of surface area.

            Of interesting note (maybe just interesting to a nerd like me- yes, I finally admit it) is that “a lamp emitting a red or flashing amber light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear may be used in addition to but not in lieu of the red reflector.”

            So, even if the salesman at the bike shop gets you to spend some extra dough on a red rear light, just know that using the red rear light does not mean you can now remove the red reflector.  But hey, the red reflector comes with almost every bike- score! 

            Why get the red rear light?  To be more visible of course.  Think of all the things that pass by you from behind that do not emit light that would reflect of your rear red reflector (say that 3 times fast).  Like a runner, a cyclist with no front light on, an automobile driver with no front lights on and/or no working front lights, etc.

            In the end, as I always note, it is important to do as much as you can to stay safe while riding outside (or inside sometimes).  The use of lights is just another way to make you visible to others.  Also, you will avoid a possible fine of not more than $20 (Wis. Stat. §347.50(5)), which is about the cost of a set of lights.