Many bicycle accidents in New York City are caused by negligent or reckless motorists. However, a recent bike accident on Madison Avenue and East 56th Street didn't even involve a vehicle. A bicyclist using the city's bike share program, Citi Bike, crashed his bike and seriously injured his head. The front tire struck a wheel stop -- a long, narrow line of concrete running perpendicular to the road at the edges of Citi Bike's docking stations.
The 75-year-old man was biking in Midtown in October 2013 when the accident occurred. The bike flipped after striking the wheel stop, causing the man serious injuries. As the victim was not wearing a helmet at the time, he ended up suffering a serious head injury. After filing a Notice of Claim against New York City, the man and his wife filed a federal lawsuit against it, also naming Citi Bike and the company's corporate owner as co-defendants. Alleging negligence, they seek $15 million in damages.
However, a city lawyer argued that the man was partially responsible for his injuries due to the fact that he was not wearing a helmet. The plaintiffs then sought to amend their notice of claim, blaming New York City for not requiring that Citi Bike supply its riders with the option of renting helmets, as it reportedly does in other cities. A state appellate court then allowed the plaintiffs to amend their notice of claim, thus permitting the $60 million federal lawsuit against the city and Citi Bike to proceed.
It remains to be seen whether the city and/or the company may be held liable due to the lack of bike helmets for riders. The allegedly defective design of the wheel stops may also play a central role in the litigation, as will the defense claim that the rider's negligence contributed to the cause of the accident. New York bicyclists who have used a City Bike and have been injured due to an accident with a wheel stop or have seriously injured themselves due to a lack of a helmet may be within their legal rights to pursue a personal injury claim.
Source: nydailynews.com, "Citi Bike rider injured in crash says NYC partly to blame for not providing helmets", Barbara Ross, July 29, 2016