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Follow-up to roller blader problem.(7 posts)

Follow-up to roller blader problem.bill
Jul 18, 2001 7:13 AM
She hasn't called me, so I guess maybe (a) she realizes maybe I wasn't so totally the Great Satan (alternatively, that I AM the Great Satan) and/or (b) she wasn't hurt so badly and maybe even the sunglasses weren't that big a deal (and/or (c) she hasn't had an appointment with the right lawyer just yet).
But, the "brain dead" portion of thread got me wondering exactly what were our respective rights and obligations. It was interesting.
I looked up Virginia law, which I'm not even sure applies, because the bike path is, as far as I know, considered part of a federal enclave and administered by the US Park service. But, in any case, Virginia law provides that:
A bicycle is a vehicle for the purpose of the motor vehicle laws only when operated on the public highways (just as in CA, Dino). Interestingly, the exception is that bicycles are permitted by state law to use sidewalks, which local jurisdictions can then limit. Bicyclists also may use crosswalks and, if they do, have the rights of pedestrians. And, bicyclists may, when it is safe to do so, pass any other vehicle on the right (or the left). Bicyclists must stay as far as possible to the right on any roadway (except, I guess, when passing). Motorists must leave a safe distance when passing.
The motor vehicle code definition of "vehicle" excepts all human-powered transportation other than bicycles. Bicycles by definition exclude multi-wheeled vehicles with seat heights, "when fully extended," of less than 25 in high, so that some recumbents may not qualify as vehicles on public highways -- the "Big-Wheel" exception. For the purposes of the motor vehicle code, roller blades do indeed appear to be pedestrians while on public highways.
Once you are not on a public highway, a bicycle is, once again, just a bicycle.
There is a section of the VA code devoted to bicycles, on or off public highways. Bicycles on bicycle paths (which is what the code calls them, not "multi-use paths," even though that's what they are) are required to stay to the right except when "reasonably necessary" to avoid other users of the path. Which is not very helpful in this instance, but that's what it says. Localities also may require cyclists to use a bicycle path adjacent to a roadway instead of the roadway. No riding two abreast on roadways unless in a dedicated lane or on a path "for the exclusive use of bicycles."
No special provisions for roller-bladers anywhere (other than a provision in the motor vehicle code preventing "roller skaters" from hooking up to a bumper). No rules, really, at all about rights of way on the paths. Bicyclists are supposed to yield to pedestrians on sidewalks and crosswalks, but, apparently, not necessarily on bike paths. No rules at all about pedestrians on bicycle paths that I could find, although consider that pedestrians are required by law to use the left side of a public highway, and they are expected to use (although apparently not required to use) the right side of a multi-use trail.
"Leaving the scene of an accident" is indeed a felony, but, because it appears in the motor vehicle code, would not apply to a multi-use trail. St. Peter may have other thoughts. BTW, to clarify, I did not leave anyone. The blader actually left first (she left me three times, actually; long story), and, even though she never once asked me my name, I caught up to her and gave it to her. My insurance company may grow to hate me, but my conscience is clear.
re: Follow-up to roller blader problem.DaveG
Jul 18, 2001 8:14 AM
Bill, hopefully the blader has dropped the whole issue. Our society has become observed with assigning blame in every circumstance, rather than viewing this as an accident which is what it was. Both blading and cycling have inherent risks, which you both experienced. I cannot see a clear reason to blame either party - bad stuff can and will happen when you bike (or blade). Perhaps its wrong, but my advice would be to leave the multipurpose paths to the walkers, joggers and bladers. While you may ne "right" to use them will you feel good about that if you end up with a broken collarbone or worse?
re: Follow-up to roller blader problem.peloton
Jul 18, 2001 8:19 AM
She probably went home and realized that she and her friends shoudn't have been taking up the whole path including your lane, and that she was a large portion of why the accident occured. It also sounds like you were rational at the scene. She may have been more inclined to take action if you had behaved poorly.

It's funny, right after you posted this originally I went for a ride. A roller blader shot out in front of me from a side street onto the main road I was on and almost caused a collision. I said politely to be careful, and that she was lucky I wasn't a truck and could stop. Couldn't help but think of your situation though.
re: Follow-up to roller blader problem.badabill
Jul 18, 2001 8:31 AM
Having read both your posts I have decided to drop a popular Bike path from my TT ride. Along the strand in San Diego is a great bike path but with many roller bladers and joggers it has become to congested. I would say you dodged a bullit and consider yourself lucky. Its a shame to lose a good place to ride, but in todays sue at the drop of a hat mentallity its better to ride another route.
re: Follow-up to roller blader problem.DINOSAUR
Jul 18, 2001 8:31 AM
Incidents like yours are nightmares to investigate. In Ca the only time police investigate accidents occurring on public or private property is if someone is injured (public property include bicycle paths). The worst places to drive is in parking lots, a lot of folks drive like idiots, and if you are involved in a crash, the cops won't take a report unless someone is injured. Then again, police departments have different policies on private property crashes, as I found out the hard way. I was clipped by a motorcyclist in a parking lot when I was driving a brand new Mazda RX-7 in 1985. It took a while to sort out, but eventually my insurance covered it, and even picked up the deductible. IMHO it's nice to be on good terms with your insurance agent, I wasn't and I got jacked around.
I suspect that the roller blader cooled down and probably realized that she was partially at fault. Also-the ER's at hospitals are full of victims from roller blade and motorized skateboard accidents. She is not alone. Maybe she did talk to an attorney and she didn't hear what she wanted, it probably wasn't worth her effort to pursue it..
re: Follow-up to roller blader problem.Lone Gunman
Jul 18, 2001 2:38 PM
No, she probably will file the lawsuit on the last day available 2 years from now, to make sure she does or does not have any permanent injuries. She went to work the next day and told all her co-workers about the incident and they filled her oversized rollerblading head with stories of big money and how they have a cousin who is a lawyer and he will take the case and it won't cost her anything "unless we get money for you." That is how alot of the frivilous suits get started. Sometimes the truth hurts. It will be a civil lawsuit and not a MV deal, pain and suffering, etc...Just a semi educated opinion from a former P.I.
sh!tbird bladders are a real menace.JohnG
Jul 18, 2001 9:05 PM
With the headphones in place and a brew in their tummy they are truely a bike paths worst nightmare. I've lost count of the # of times I've had to make huge corrections for some of these dimwits.

JohnG