Speeding Bicyclists vs. Careless Pedestrians (No One Wins) - The New York Personal Injury Law Blog

The New York Personal Injury Blog

Speeding Bicyclists vs. Careless Pedestrians (No One Wins)

The Daily News reports that their own earth-shattering investigation revealed that … gasp … bicyclists in spandex shorts are speeding! Not only are they breaking the posted speed limits in Central Park, but it puts pedestrians at risk. The intrepid investigative reporters clocked 16 cyclists breaking the 25 mph limit in a 35 minute period. One cyclist even reached a mind-numbing 30 mph.

In all seriousness though, this does sound like a series of severe accidents waiting to happen. Combine those that are Lance Armstronging with those that are visually and mentally fixated on their Apple iOS Crack and you have a dangerous potential for oblivious pedestrian meeting careless cyclist.

Here's a hint: no one wins. This is true for the accident and the resulting lawsuit.

Have you ever seen a cyclist hit an object? They go flying over their handlebars and land on their face. At the same time, a pedestrian getting whacked by a 30 mph cycling banshee also isn't going to walk away unscathed.

When it comes to the almost-inevitable lawsuit, neither party would win there either. The speeding bicyclist is breaking a law. As such, they are probably negligent per se (or negligent by law). A negligence per se case is far easier to prove, as the plaintiff only has to show a violation of a safety-based law and a resulting accident to prevail. Proving the speed limit violation is probably going to be the most difficult part of that case.

Unfortunately, the pedestrian would also probably lose. New York is what one great torts professor once referred to as a "touchy-feely" state. In legal terms, they are a pure comparative fault state. This means that the iPhone-addicted pedestrian's fault in not looking before they entered the roadway would also be taken into consideration and the pedestrian's damages could be reduced by their percent of the overall fault, as set by the judge or jury.

The pedestrian could also possibly be sued by the bicyclist for his negligence in crossing the street while playing Angry Birds. The cyclist's damages would of course also be reduced by her fault in going too fast.

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