Am I liable if I run over a jogger in musical solitude?

Discussion in 'The Bike Cafe' started by DCWD, Aug 9, 2005.

  1. DCWD

    DCWD New Member

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    So yesterday morning I'm sweeping along my way to work at about 30mph and look up to see a jogger, engrossed in her ipod-induced solitude, stopping to pick up some something-or-other in my lane on the Mt Vernon trail. I slam on the brakes and swerve to avoid hitting her. Having made no contact and confirmed that she remained oblivious to her near-death experience, I cursed all joggers under my breath as I worked back up to my previous tempo. ...but it got me thinking... If 200lbs of bicycle/cyclist going 30mph hits a 100lbs jogger standing still, how far will her brains splatter across the Mt Vernon trail when her head makes contact with the pavement? ...and would I be liable for her death? I mean, she was wearing headphones and stepped right in front of me without looking!

    If I had crashed in my attempt to avoid killing her, would she be liable for repairing/replacing my bike? Earlier in the year, I went off the trail to avoid a jogger and crashed, blowing out a tire in the process. (The jogger, also a girl wearing headphones, asked if I was alright but barely waited for a response before turning back to her afternoon workout). I had to replace a $25 tire and tube and spent another $10 at a nearby pharmacy to clean and bandage my road rash. I never thought about sending a bill (especially since she ran off), but what if the cost was a lot higher?

    Any experience out there with this? Urban myths or legal advice also appreciated.
     
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  2. cydewaze

    cydewaze New Member

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    That and the WOD trail are awful for that stuff.

    Years ago I was riding along that exact same trail when I happened across a person on one side of the road (with headphones) and a dog sniffing around on the other. I shouted "BIKE!!" as I used to do, to avoid someone hearing "left" and jumping to the left, but got no response, even after the third yell.

    His headphones were so loud, I could hear them buzzing away as I approached, but it wasn't until I was almost on top of him that I noticed the thin, black zipline leash stretching across the trail to his dog.

    I slammed on the brakes and locked them up (fortunately I wasn't going very fast) but managed to clothesline the dog anyway, fortunately not badly. The owner took off his headphones long enough to yell, "Watch where you're going!" before continuing his walk, not even checking on the dog.

    I clipped in, and hosed him down with my water bottle as I sped off. Not sure what would have happend had there been a crash or injury. I hope his dog was ok though.
     
  3. huhenio

    huhenio New Member

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    I yell "INCOMING" like it would be a mortar shell. Bike and rider together at 225 pounds at 18 mph is no joke. I rather impact than crash, but I am not clipped to my pedals.

    I yell well in advance if possible and then I smile to the person and say "thank you" and I keep pushing on.

    KE = 1/2 mass times speed sq.

    KE = 50 kilos times 900 = 4,500 kilos of kinetic energy.
     
  4. slimer78

    slimer78 New Member

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    Seems like the dc area trails are full of idiots. About a month ago a female rollerblader on the capital cresent trail was kicking her legs out into both lanes. I noticed she had head phones on so I approached carefully and yelled on your left. About half of a minute later she began coasting so I went to pass. Right as I was passing she kicked out her left leg and hit my front wheel. I lost control but didnt go down. It sure scared the crap out of her though. I think I am going to start carrying a fog horn with me for people with head phones.
     
  5. huhenio

    huhenio New Member

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    @slimer ... dont give me any ideas ....
     
  6. friedmikey

    friedmikey New Member

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    Multi-use paths are a nightmare. Let's not kid ourselves here. We (the cyclists) are the fast-movers on the path... you all know that we'll get the blame for an accident no matter what the circumstances may be. Sucks.
     
  7. artmichalek

    artmichalek New Member

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    I don't think it's isolated to DC. I know of at least two cyclists who've been taken out by roller bladers on the bike path here. They seem to think that just because there aren't any cars they don't have to pay attention.
     
  8. Don Shipp

    Don Shipp New Member

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    Good post!!!
     
  9. astroluc

    astroluc New Member

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    Not a Jogger, but an oblivious person, none-the-less; which still bears the question of liability/accountability.

    As I was cruising down the local thoroughfare after visiting my 83 yr old grandfather for his birthday (I am 30), I was set upon by a motorist turning left from an oncoming lane... I had the right of way, It was daylight, I was brightly dressed, He was oblivious, I was yelling... he turned accross my path and I locked up my rear tire and my back end fishtailed (I had visions of picking my teeth out of the blacktop); thankfully I retained control, and he was no where to be found... Like I said, oblivious. Upon finding a safe place to inspect my rim/tire, I saw that I had torn the sidewall of my BRAND NEW (Less than 200 miles) $40 tires. Thank god I did not taco my wheel! For it was a great possibility considering my slide. I left the situation livid and all nerved up; but I made it home in record time :D

    Law in my state says that he would have been liable if he had hit me (obviously) but I think it falls in that grey area (perhaps small claims?) if my equip. get's damaged by someone elses neglegence; perhaps this goes for jogger/cyclist "encounters" as well?
     
  10. astroluc

    astroluc New Member

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    ding ding ding... we have a winner ;)

    It is surely a problem here in MA.
     
  11. concord

    concord Member

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    A few years ago I came upon a rollerblader and he was doing the same thing, just kicking left than right but this guy would also sway and three feet in which ever way his legs would go. No cars were coming so I sped up and pass him as he swung away from me. Well I scared the crap out of him, that I looked back to see and all I saw was legs up in the air and him hitting the pavement and rolling. I guess he lost his balance. :p
     
  12. camhabib

    camhabib New Member

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    I like the water bottle idea. I'm going to start keeping a few extra's handy so I can squirt and run. Might even wind up being a good exercise if the person being squirted can run fast enough to chase you.

    However, back to the topic, I don't think that the other person would be liable. I'm no law professor but something tells me you would be liable for yourself if no contact was made or if the other person wasn't doing anything to endanger you (other then sheer stupidity). I do see a lot of runners and roller bladders and what not that are completely oblivious to everything, especially in MA around some of the nicer city parts. There should be some law prohibiting walkers / joggers / roller bladders from wearing any musical device in BOTH ears, completely impairing hearing. Even if their isn't, it should be common sense to most people.

    -Cameron
     
  13. Insight Driver

    Insight Driver New Member

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    I sympathize with cyclists who have to put up with clueless joggers and roller-bladers. That said there can be fault on both sides. I see the same kind of agressive type-A behavior from cyclists as I see from drivers of cars. More than once I've noticed that kind of cyclist and commented to my wife that there is an accident that will happen.

    I like to ride a good ride, trying to improve my strength and stamina and don't appreciate someone clueless on the trail in front of me. I also do not want to crash my $6000 bicycle. I will slow down and yell out that I'm passing. If the person in front is oblivious to me, then I will swing wide if possible or slow down to their pace and yell out that I'm passing again. That gets the attention of most who have headphones on while jogging/blading, whatever. Even though I think it is inconsiderate and dangerous for a roller-blader to be wearing headphones I don't want to be foolish and invite an accident.

    I am very fortunate that I can ride on the American River Parkway also known as the Jebediah Smith BICYCLE trail. Although it's primarily a bicycle trail it's open to walkers, joggers and roller-bladers. Although the rules and etiquete rules are posted on multiple signs on the trail, there are still clueless people that don't believe rules apply to them. Such is life. Live with it. I understand it.

    To answer the question originally posted on whose fault it would be I would say my answer would be somewhat like King Solomon. I would see fault on both sides, not equally, though, but both contributing A cyclist who sees a hazard ahead must take that into account and be cautious, not barrel on by, "in the right." A roller-blader who is taking up both sides of the trail with wide sweeps of their legs and are compounding the issue by wearing headphones are clearly in the wrong. Running into them even though they are wrong, is the fault of a cyclist who saw the hazard but did not take due care. IMOHO

    It is unfortunate that one can be in the wrong place when a clueless driver cuts you off. If we had been another car, there would have been a collision and the clueless would be held at fault. On a bicyle, clueless wins because we don't have a ton of metal protecting us. That is also a reality that we must take into account while riding on the road.

    I'm afraid that even riding defensively one can be in an accident that is clearly the fault of the other party. So far in my life, I have been lucky. My luck could run out at any time. All I can say is be safe out there and enjoy your ride.
     
  14. jhuskey

    jhuskey Moderator

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    Comparitive fault issue are tricky. If there is personal injury involved, of some magnitude, it might be worth a try. If not then you might make a friendly request or take the issue to Sessions Court and represent yourself.
    The Sessions Court judge will probably ask you to step into the hall and try and work it out between the parties involved.
    Their case loads are usually very heavy.
    Always document any incident that you plan to persue with photos and a detailed story of the incident.
    If you don't get a name ,then it never happened.
     
  15. AmpedCycle

    AmpedCycle New Member

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    Oblivious women... I've seen so many. "Crazy Ivans," too... a crazy ivan is an asian on a bicycle steering eratically (I live in a town so full of asians it isn't even funny) (("crazy ivan" is a reference from the movie "A Hunt for Red October").
    I can spot these women from at least a 1/4 mile -- I don't even slow down, anymore -- they look like fishing lures, from behind... arms swinging wildly, head in the clouds, a swerving gait,... trust me, I know. I'll tell you the truth, I'd like to stick out my arm and closeline one of them, or use my frame pump like a night stick. I'll bet I'd get away with it, too.
     
  16. KGnagey

    KGnagey New Member

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    30mph on a multi-use trail is dangerous for both biker and non-biker. Some multi-use trails have a speed limit and for a good reason. If you were going slower would you have had more time to react? Save the speed for the road.
     
  17. jaguar75

    jaguar75 New Member

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    As a cyclist multi-use paths do suck, however, laws favor the footboud pedestrian and rightly so. If you are overtaking a person walking, you can see them but they can not see you. It is your responsibility as a "fast-mover" approaching a walker/jogger to put your hands on the breaks negotiate a safe pass and prepare for and anticipate unexpected manuvers. This is elementary folks and frankly it is pretty snobbish for you to think otherwise...
     
  18. FELTF10

    FELTF10 New Member

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    Wow,
    Perfect reply, right or wrong you must strive to avoid. I agree with your opinion 100%. Just as clueless as some drivers are there are biker, jogger, walker, in-line skater and equistrian counter parts. STRIVE TO AVOID!

    Later!
     
  19. DCWD

    DCWD New Member

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    Yah. I guess I was wondering about that, too. A lot of my frustration at the time was that I rarely (really RARELY) hit that kind of speed on the trail and I was really (and I mean REAAALLLYYY) enjoying it. But at the same time, ipod-jogger is alive today because I *was* paying attention. That's my frustration, too. ...I mean, nothing but her state of mind prevented her from looking up to see me, pausing half a second, and then going after whatever it was she was picking up. Her choice to jog in oblivion denies me the freedom to push myself a little harder every day as I make my commute.

    Now, this trail is called a "shared-use" trail (with no speed limit that I've ever found). I don't begrudge joggers on the trail, even when they wonder or jog two-abreast. I get a bit miffed when they stop in the middle of the trail to chat or jog three and four-abreast. And I don't expect them to be tripping over themselves to stay out of my way, either. But shouldn't they be responsible for sharing the trail with me, just as I am responsible for sharing withe them? Where's the justice?
     
  20. AEKDB

    AEKDB New Member

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    I ride the Silver Comet Trail in Atlanta, GA. It is a multi use path that even allows horses. Other cyclist, in my opinion, are the biggest threat. "Club racers" travel the trail at highspeeds and in large packs. They travel and pass 2-3 wide and will NOT miss a beat. I have seen many near misses from passing without yeilding to oncoming traffic pedestrians or other cyclist.
     
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