Trek bicycles has issued a major recall related to the quick release mechanism affecting bicycles equipped with disc braking systems.  The recall states “An open quick release lever on the bicycle’s front wheel hub can come into contact with the front disc brake assembly, causing the front wheel to come to a sudden stop or separate from the bicycle, posing a risk of injury to the rider”.  Obviously, this is a very serious injury risk and has reportedly resulted in several injuries, including at least one instance of quadriplegia.

The concern reportedly involves bicycles manufactured from 2000-2015.  Due to the vast number of bicycles at issue, consumers are strongly encouraged to thoroughly explore whether their bicycle may be implicated in the recall. The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s report of the recall can be accessed here.

While the recall reportedly arises from the loose hub lever coming into contact with the disc brake, the simple release of the hub mechanism is something which would create a very real and substantial risk of an accident which should not be ignored.  As an avid cyclist and bicycle accident lawyer, I would encourage everyone who rides to routinely inspect and maintain their bikes, and to check any and all quick release mechanisms before every ride and after every rest period during a ride.  It’s quick, easy and can save your life.

If you, a loved one or friend has been hurt in a cycling-related accident, or if you have a question concerning cycling safety, my office is here to help.

Ride safely.

“Dooring” events – crashes or other collisions triggered by a motorist opening their door into a cyclist or the cyclist’s path — are one of the more common collision events for cyclists in urban areas.  Often with devastating results.  As a bicycle accident lawyer, I’ve seen folks who have suffered catastrophic head injuries, shoulder injuries, neck injuries, etc., as a direct result of these incidents.  Unfortunately, the  cyclist is often without any means of preventing or avoiding these crash events.  Why?  Visibility and notice are the key problems.

Contrary to what many motorists (and jurors) may think, the cyclist usually has no warning that a “dooring” event is about to occur.   A cyclist’s ability to see into the passenger compartment of a parked vehicle is usually very limited, most commonly due to window tinting (present on most mini-vans and SUVs) or sun glare reflecting off of the vehicles’ windows.  Now, factor in the reality that cyclists are legally obligated to ride as far to the right side of the road/lane as possible in order to avoid obstructing the flow of traffic, and the recipe for disaster should be clear.  The easiest means to avoid these accidents is to place an obligation on motorists to look before they open their doors!  Why? Simple.  Unlike the approaching cyclist, a motorist has direct knowledge of their plan to open the door, has no impediments to their ability to see through their windows, and has the added benefit of being able to view the approach of the cyclist in their mirrors.The vast majority of States in the US have traffic statutes which address Dooring by imposing a duty on all drivers to verify they can safely open their car doors before they do so.  Unfortunately, New Jersey has no such statute.

As an avid cyclist and bicycle injury attorney in New Jersey, I think it is time for that to change.  I urge you to do your part by writing to your state legislators and seeking change.  Not sure who they are?  You can look them up here. For more information of “dooring” and a summary of the way this hazard is addressed across the United States, visit League of American Cyclists website.

You are probably aware that bicycles sold in the United States are required to meet certain design requirements set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).  But did you know that bicycles which are only intended for use by children have their own safety standards? Due to a variety of reasons, including developmental differences (such as lower hand strength and relative levels of coordination), safety requirements applicable to children’s bicycles may vary.

General Information – Children’s Bicycle Categories:  Bikes specifically designed for use by children are typically categorized by their wheel size (12”, 16”, etc.).  Bicycles with smaller wheels are targeted the children who will have lower relative strength and coordination and, as such, differing safety requirements under the CPSC guidelines.  For example:

Sidewalk Bikes:   The CPSC classifies bicycles as “sidewalk bikes” based upon size and features.  Typically these include “balance bikes” a/k/a “balance trainers” and bikes with 12-inch wheels.  Those with a seat height of less than 22” (in the lowest setting) need not have any brakes, so long as they do not have a “freewheeling feature” and are affixed with a permanent label which stated “no brakes”.  Those with a seat height in excess of 22” (in the lowest setting) must have a foot brake.  Reflectors are not required on sidewalk bikes, though they may be present on units available for sale.

Balance Bikes:  Also known as “balance trainers”, these bicycles have no drive system whatsoever and are propelled with the lower extremities or by the assistance of an adult.  The purpose of these bikes is to teach children (typically 18 months – 4 years of age) how to balance and steer.  They fall within the scope of the CPSC’s  ‘sidewalk bike’ classification, and thus are not required to have many standard bicycle safety features, such as brakes and reflectors.

Bikes with 12-Inch wheels:  Bicycles in this classification are intended as entry-level training bikes, and are targeted at children 3-4 years of age.  As with balance trainers, the CPSC classifies these bicycles as ‘sidewalk bikes’.  Bicycles with this wheel size are typically sold with training wheels and foot-operated coaster brakes. If sold with a chain drive, it must be shielded.

Bikes with 16-Inch wheels:  Bicycles in this class are intended for children ranging between 4-6 years.  They are required to have a chain guard which covers the top of the chain and 90⁰ of the portion of the front drive sprocket which makes contact with the chain.  These are often sold with training wheels, though there is no requirement that they be so equipped.  Brakes are required, but they may be found with either caliper brakes or a combination of a rear foot-operated coaster brake and a hand-operated front caliper brake.

Bikes with 20-Inch wheels:  Bicycles in this class are intended for children of at least 6 years of age, but may be marketed for use by much older individuals (e.g., BMX or “stunt” bikes).  This is typically the smallest format in which multi-speed gearing is available, though many are sold in a single speed BMX-style configurations.   Brakes are required, but they may be found with either caliper brakes or a combination of a rear foot-operated coaster brake and a hand-operated front caliper brake.  Chain guard requirements apply to single speed models.  This is the first bicycle size intended for use upon the roadways and thus, additional requirements are imposed for reflectors to enhance visibility at night.

Considerations for Brake Type

Coaster Brake (a/k/a Foot Brake) vs. Hand Brakes:  Coaster braking systems are incorporated into the hub of the bicycle’s rear wheel assembly and are actuated by applying reverse pressure on the front sprocket.  These systems are routinely found on bicycles targeted to the youngest individuals, as hand strength may not be sufficiently developed to permit the reliable use of hand brakes.  Hand brakes become appropriate as hand strength develops.  As a practical matter, a child’s level of coordination should also be considered when choosing braking systems.

More information on the CPSC’s requirements may be found here.

The CPSC may be contacted at (301) 504-7913 or via e-mail at: sect15@cpsc.gov.

On February 10, 2015, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued an announcement that Marin Mountain Bikes has issued a recall notice concerning approximately 450 units of its 2014 model MBX 50 and Tiny Trail boys and girls bicycles.  The bikes in question have 16” wheels and were intended for young children.  They were reportedly sold in stores nationwide between September, 2013 and December, 2014, and retailed for approximately $250.

The company provided this description of the defect at issue:  “The handlebars can loosen or separate during use. This can cause the rider to lose control and/or crash, posing the risk of injury.” Consumers are advised to immediately stop using the recalled bicycle and contact Marin for a replacement handlebar stem.

For more information, consumers can contact Marin Mountain Bikes at (800) 222-7557 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, Monday through Friday, or visit the company’s website at www.marinbikes.com  (click on “Recalls/Safety” for more information).

The CPSC notice, which contains a sample photo of the recalled bike, can be viewed here.

As a bicyclist and consumer safety advocate in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, I find myself regularly performing research and, in my travels today, I came across an announcement that UVEX, a major producer of bicycle helmets, has recalled several helmet models due to a risk that the chinstrap mechanism will fail.  In addition, the helmets involved in the recall also reportedly fail to comply with the impact requirements set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  The combined defects produce a significant risk for head injury.  The affected model numbers are “XB017, XB022, XB025, XB027, XB032, XB036 and XB038”

More information on the recall can be found through the CPSC website here.

While I am pleased that UVEX has announced this recall, the bigger question from my perspective is “How can a company produce, market and distribute a bicycle helmet which does not comply with the impact requirements set by the CPSC?”  It’s both shameful and amazing.

If you or anyone you know has been injured in a bicycle-related accident, my office is here to help. Contact Stark & Stark today for your free consultation.

As a bicycle accident attorney and avid cyclist, I am all too familiar with the problems created by New Jersey’s roadways, with their notoriously narrow shoulders, winding roadways, and other hazards. Fortunately, more and more of our townships are adopting ordinances which include “complete streets” policy provisions. Among the latest to do so, is Hopewell Township in Mercer County, which reportedly introduced an ordinance with such a policy provision in a recent meeting in June, 2014.
Complete Streets policies require newly constructed roadway projects to incorporate bike lanes, sidewalks and other such features to insure the roads meet the needs of all users — that is, bicyclists and pedestrians as well as motorists.

More information on this breaking story can be obtained here.
More information on the “complete streets” projects in general can be obtained on this page.

If you or a loved one has been injured or affected by a biking hazard, contact Stark & Stark for your free consultation.

A Burlington County jury recently returned a verdict in favor of Stark & Stark Shareholder Bruce Stern’s client. The verdict found that the Florence Township Board of Education and its school bus driver were partially responsible for an incident that occurred in 2009 in Florence Township, New Jersey. Stern’s client was stopped on a street corner while on his bicycle when the bus driver drove the right rear tire of her school bus over his left foot when making a turn. Continue Reading Stark & Stark Shareholder Bruce Stern Blogs About Recent Verdict in Favor of Client