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Old 11-11-08, 08:53 AM   #1
nd4speed7
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Hit by car in Montgomery County MD

I was commuting in to work this morning when a lady struck me as she turned out onto the roadway. Luckily I was going less than 20 mph, but I fell off my bike and scraped up my knee, hip and elbow. My bike was not so lucky the handlebars got all bent up. Fire and police came and I went to the hospital for x-rays and to clean my wounds.

The officer taking the report said that I was at fault because I was not riding on the sidewalk and that Montgomery County laws supersede the Maryland State law that says I can ride on the road. The officer did not give me a ticket though, but said that since I was at fault that if there was any damage to her vehicle that I could be charged for it.

How do I find out if the County laws are allowed to supersede the state laws? And if they do not how can I fight this to get reimbursed for my bike and the medical costs?
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Old 11-11-08, 08:54 AM   #2
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I'd sure like to see a quote of the law that says you must ride on sidewalks......
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Old 11-11-08, 09:10 AM   #3
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First, it sounds like you are more or less OK, which is always good to hear.

Second, get the attribution of fault issue taken care of pronto. I'm sure your hospital visit generated some significant bills, which, as it currently stands, will fall on you and your insurance company. If you are insured, you should talk to your agent ASAP. If that doesn't go anywhere, or you are uninsured, it is time to find a lawyer. I've never heard of an area where legally you are supposed to ride on the sidewalk versus the street.
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Old 11-11-08, 09:29 AM   #4
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look into that sidewalk thing immediately

please someone tell me that cop was wrong, what a ******ed law

plus i dont see how that puts you at fault. just because youre breaking the law doesnt mean that you or your law breaking caused the accident.
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Old 11-11-08, 09:33 AM   #5
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If what the cop says is true, it would be about the only county in the country where their laws supercede state laws.

Did the cop write up a report?
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Old 11-11-08, 09:38 AM   #6
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Well, I just took a look at both the Maryland Code and the Montgomery County Code, and there's nothing that I could find that says that you have to be on the sidewalk. The most important things I found in my brief survey are that (A) Maryland Code section 21-1202 says that you have all the rights and responsibilities of a car driver and that (B) section 21-1103 says that you can't ride your bike on the sidewalk unless local ordinances allow you to. Note that the latter section uses the phrase "may ride," not "must ride."

Unless the road you were on wasn't a "shared use roadway" as defined by the Montgomery County Code (and even then, it looks like you're in the clear), I'm pretty sure you're in the right.

I'd call the County Attorney's office, if I were you, and ask them what the deal is.

Maryland Code: http://www.michie.com/
Montgomery County Code: http://www.amlegal.com/montgomery_county_md/
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Old 11-11-08, 09:45 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by nd4speed7 View Post
I was commuting in to work this morning when a lady struck me as she turned out onto the roadway. Luckily I was going less than 20 mph, but I fell off my bike and scraped up my knee, hip and elbow. My bike was not so lucky the handlebars got all bent up. Fire and police came and I went to the hospital for x-rays and to clean my wounds.

The officer taking the report said that I was at fault because I was not riding on the sidewalk and that Montgomery County laws supersede the Maryland State law that says I can ride on the road. The officer did not give me a ticket though, but said that since I was at fault that if there was any damage to her vehicle that I could be charged for it.

How do I find out if the County laws are allowed to supersede the state laws? And if they do not how can I fight this to get reimbursed for my bike and the medical costs?
There is no such law. Talk to the guys/gals at MoBike. Ask about a good local lawyer that handles bike cases. Stop writing about it here.

http://www.internetigloo.com/mobike/
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Old 11-11-08, 09:49 AM   #8
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Yeah, I found some similar language too in the County Code. In Section 31-5, it says a bicycle "....may be operated upon sidewalk areas...."

Not "must" or "shall."

Hope you heal fast, feel better, and get this resolved quickly and correctly.
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Old 11-11-08, 10:12 AM   #9
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Why don't you get the officer that told you about the law to show you the code? He seems to know the law and he is there to protect and SERVE. Seriously.
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Old 11-11-08, 10:19 AM   #10
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I’d try starting three places.

(1) Montgomery code seems to be available on line.
http://www.amlegal.com/nxt/gateway.d...gomeryco_md_mc

Section 31-5 indicates that bicycles are allowed to ride on the sidewalk; this is very different from required to, since riding on the sidewalk is more dangerous in precisely the situation where you were hit.

You can also look for the code at (2) a local library (should definitely be available) or (3) a local law school library (more likely to have legally informed staff, if they have the county code). You can also ask a local bicycle club or possibly a group like the Washington Area Bicyclists Association (www.waba.org) for local laws and possibly references to lawyers.

I strongly doubt you will find any legal requirement to ride across driveways on the sidewalk, but since the policeman is probably misinformed about the law and clearly hostile to bicyclists (assigning you repair costs for the motorist’s car when the bicyclist in the roadway should have had the right of way), at this point, I think all your choices are unpleasant at best.

The policeman should have given you information on the driver and her insurance; if not, you can go back to the police and ask for it. (She is required to have liability insurance.) My suspicion is that the insurance company is unlikely to try to collect from an uninsured bicyclist. I would get some documented estimate of damage to the bicycle (and any medical bills if necessary), and file a claim with her insurance company. (They’ll want an estimate from a bicycle shop; hopefully, you have one that will give you one in writing.) Do this soon; do not let the policeman’s unlikely descriptions of the law delay you.

In my experience they will be reluctant to pay and tell you that you were at fault (especially if the policeman told the driver you were required to ride on the sidewalk); this is where you will hopefully be able to point to state codes that prohibit riding on the sidewalk as unsafe unless permitted, and county codes that may allow but not require it.

The bicycle repair bills will be too small to justify a lawyer. If you have significant injuries you should certainly go to a doctor and a lawyer. If for some reason she tries to collect for damage to her auto, it will be ugly (too small to pay a lawyer, unlikely to win without one in the face of police and judges like the one you met).

If you have time after getting your bicycle fixed and collecting from the insurance company, I’d see if you can get one of the bicycle groups to arrange for more education for this policeman on traffic laws involving bicycles, including a strong explanation that riding on the sidewalk is dangerous and that traffic entering a roadway is always expected to yield to existing traffic in the road (including bicycles).
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Old 11-11-08, 10:50 AM   #11
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I would be at the local law enforcement office demanding clarification. If they cannot provide it, then I would demand a citation to the driver of the vehicle after the fact. They will say that they can't do that, but charges can be filed after the fact. It's not like there is a statute of limitations.
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Old 11-11-08, 12:15 PM   #12
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Well i just got off the phone with the officer and he said that he was wrong and that she was at fault. I got a quote to get my bike fixed and just have to make a claim. Thanks for all the support and hopefully I will get back on my bike soon.
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Old 11-11-08, 12:17 PM   #13
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I'm happy to hear that a bad situation turned out OK.
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Old 11-11-08, 12:20 PM   #14
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Well i just got off the phone with the officer and he said that he was wrong and that she was at fault. I got a quote to get my bike fixed and just have to make a claim. Thanks for all the support and hopefully I will get back on my bike soon.
Wow. Either he got corrected by a superior, or he's a very reasonable person who admits his mistakes...
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Old 11-11-08, 12:24 PM   #15
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Good to hear the officer owned up to being wrong.
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Old 11-11-08, 12:26 PM   #16
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Well i just got off the phone with the officer and he said that he was wrong and that she was at fault. I got a quote to get my bike fixed and just have to make a claim. Thanks for all the support and hopefully I will get back on my bike soon.
Glad to hear that the officer reconsidered their errant opinion and things turned out well for you.

I guess you now know that law enforcement officers are not all that great as far as knowing laws.
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Old 11-11-08, 08:09 PM   #17
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I think that Montgomery County has a mandatory "side path" law. If so, the cop likely thought that meant sidewalk. Glad he learned from the incident.

Read the other threads on how you should deal with the insurance claim.
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Old 11-11-08, 08:58 PM   #18
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just out of curiosity, did you call the officer or his boss on the mistake, or did he right the wrong on his own volition?
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Old 11-12-08, 02:04 PM   #19
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I left a message for him to call me back. When he did he said that he knew why I was calling before I could call him out on his mistake. So he was going to call the lady back and let her know that she was at fault. I'm not sure if she was issued a ticket though.
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Old 11-12-08, 02:55 PM   #20
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Outstanding. Just make sure any reports he filed are corrected as well.
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Old 11-12-08, 04:45 PM   #21
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Wow. A cop who admits he was wrong is SO rare... send him a reward... bottle of nice booze or something.
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Old 11-13-08, 07:15 AM   #22
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If she was at fault, she deserves a ticket. I've been screwed by insurance companies before where no ticket was issued. The first thing that they say with a smirk on their face is "Why should we pay? There was no ticket issued."

God I hate insurance companies.
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Old 11-13-08, 06:38 PM   #23
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I think that Montgomery County has a mandatory "side path" law. If so, the cop likely thought that meant sidewalk. Glad he learned from the incident.

Read the other threads on how you should deal with the insurance claim.
The mandatory sidepath law was overturned a long time ago -- because it contravened state law.
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