As Seen on Shape.com
A cyclist in Brooklyn's Prospect Park was the victim of a cruel prank
that left him with six broken ribs, a fractured elbow, and recurring dizzy
spells—and that the police aren't investigating the incident
as a crime.
Michael Wilhelm was biking the park's 3.3-mile loop last Tuesday when
a rope, stretched across the road, snagged his wheel and threw him over
his handlebars. A photo he took at the scene shows the trip-line was tied
to a fire hydrant and pulled taut several inches off the ground.
Wilhelm's crash should also serve as a reminder to all cyclists to
know their rights in the event of an accident. Whether it involves a car,
another bike, or a danger on the roadway itself, a crash should be well
documented and investigated, says
Daniel Flanzig, a lawyer who focuses on cycling injuries in New York City. (Yes, there
is such thing as a bike lawyer! Who knew?)
Flanzig recommends always calling the police to the scene of a bike crash, even
if it's minor and you think you're okay. "If there's
another party involved, you can make sure proper insurance information
is exchanged in case you need it later," he says. "Even if you
have to wait 15 minutes for them to show up, it's worth it."
He also developed a free app for iPhone and Android,
Bike Crash Kit, that helps cyclists collect necessary information at the scene of a crash.
Even in a case like Wilhelm's where there's no obvious person at
fault, it's not a bad idea to consult an attorney, Flanzig says. He
represents one client, for example, who was hit by a rock thrown from
an overpass. The rock-thrower was never caught, but
Flanzig was able to get the city to
extend fencing on the overpass to cover the bike lane so that it can't happen again. He's also
worked with cyclists who have been injured by potholes and other obstacles
in city streets or bike lanes, "doored" by drivers getting out
of their cars, or hit by vehicles making right or left turns.
If you are involved in an accident, a lawyer can help you consider your
next steps. In fact,
Flanzig says he's in the process of building a nationwide network of legal
professionals who focus on cycling cases, and he says a website may soon
In the meantime, the best way to protect your rights
your safety is by obeying all traffic lawsand being a responsible, careful
cyclist. "You have to ride with your head on a swivel, be on the
lookout for hazards, and expect the unexpected," he says.