How should cyclists safely pass pedestrians?
It took a New Jersey jury about 15 minutes to decide that an 11-year-old girl on rollerblades was not at fault for causing a doctor to crash his bicycle.
You may have heard of the ridiculous lawsuit filed by Dr. Alexander Dlugi, who sued his neighbor because she turned into his path after he rang his bicycle bell and yelled “Watch Out” as he cycled past.
Dlugi, who suffered a broken collarbone, claimed his practice lost money because of his injuries and he sued. His attorney said: “It may seem like an odd thing. But people are responsible for their actions.”
That may be the case, but the seven-person jury didn't agree that the girl — now 15 — was responsible for the accident.
A juror told the Star-Ledger that the panel believed the girl was startled when Dlugi rode up behind her, rang his bell, and shouted. “We all felt the story Lauren gave was right'' and that she acted appropriately, the juror said.
Dlugi, 54, was not in the courtroom when the verdict came in. He's been publically hammered for filing the lawsuit. Check out Digg for some comments.
Personally, I usually feel safer cycling through an intersection where all the motorists are driving SUVs and talking on cellphones than approaching pedestrians from behind. While doctor's case occurred on a street, I usually come upon pedestrians when I'm cycling on a bike path.
Although the rules say to ring a bell (which I don't have) or yell, I usually do neither. I've found it's safer just slow down and quietly slip past as far to the left as possible. Shouting a warning just seems to startle people into a spastic reaction, like jumping into my bicycle.
If I do shout a warning, I usually say “Passing” or “'Xcuse me” and wait for a response. Shouting “On your left” may work for other cyclists, but on a path it's a 50-50 crapshoot which way the person will move.
Does anyone else have ideas how to safely pass pedestrians?