Bicycle Safety Tips


In a recent report published by Governors Highway Safety Association, data shows “bicyclist fatalities had been declining steadily, hitting an all-time low of 621 in 2010. Since then, however, the trend line has been moving in the wrong direction; in 2015, 818 bicyclists were killed on U.S. roadways, a 12.2% increase over the previous year and the largest uptick in two decades. Bicyclists have consistently accounted for at least 2 percent of all roadway fatalities.”

Adults are now more likely to be killed in bicycle-vehicle accidents than children which is likely due to an increase in bicycle commuting. According to a report released by Alliance for Biking & Walking in 2016, the increase in adults biking to work has risen from 0.7% to 1.2% in large cities.  Bike share programs are also contributing to the increase in cycling, with 2016 data showing more than 28 million cycling trips within the programs.

Millenials (born between 1979 – 1995) are showing an increased tendency to commute by bike and “more likely than the previous two generations to choose a less car-centric lifestyle, to prefer living in a city and to identify city neighborhoods as their ‘ideal neighborhood’ type, trends associated with lower levels of car dependence,” according to Pew Research Center (Transit Center & Dutze et al., as cited in ABW, 2016).

Do bicycles have to obey the same laws as vehicles?

In Washington state, bicycles are considered “vehicles” and must follow all of the same rules of the road.  The Washington State Department of Transportation also says bicycles are to be treated as equal users of the road by all other vehicles.

We’ve published some of the more common Washington laws you may want to be aware of when cycling, below:

  • Be aware of the helmet law in the city or county you are cycling in.  Washington state does not mandate helmet use, but some cities and counties do.  You can check the localities requiring helmets, here.
  • If you violate traffic laws, you can be ticketed just the same as a driver of a motor vehicle.
  • Some roadways or highways may be closed to bicycle traffic. There may also be special ordinances adopted by local governments that ban cycling on sidewalks or within business districts.
  • Cyclists may not ride more than two side by side.
  • A white front light is required when cycling at night as well as a red rear reflector. The white light must be visible for 500 feet.

For more Washington State bicycle laws, click here.

Remember that one of the most common themes in bicycle fatalities is a motorist who fails to see the bicyclist, making it imperative that both pay attention to their surroundings at all times.


The Phillips Law Firm makes an unprecedented move this month in handing out its notable “What Were You Thinking!?” award.  Remember, it’s never a good thing to receive this award because it’s a reminder to the general public that you took some form of carelessness that endangered a member of your community.  So, the unprecedented move is?  We’re proud (actually abhorred) to announce this month that we have co-recipients for our monthly trophy.

Drunken, Texting Driver…What Were You Thinking!?

A Bonney Lake bicyclist was hurt at the end of August after being struck by a drunken and texting motorist.  The accident occurred at approximately 10 p.m. on state Route 410 at 171st Avenue East.  The 53-year-old bicyclist suffered a broken ankle and several abrasions from the collision.

Washington State Patrol troopers eventually arrested the automobile driver.  He was a 23-year-old resident of Lake Tapps.  According to troopers, he was drunk and sending a text message when the collision occurred.  The driver was later booked into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of vehicular assault.

Drunk driving is horrible.  Texting while driving is horrible.  To add insult to injury, the drunken, texting motorist failed to stop after the accident took place.  The driver eventually returned to the scene once another motorist informed him that he had hit a cyclist.

Texting Driver #2…What Were You Thinking!?

Our second award goes out to a teenage driver that struck and injured an unidentified 63-year-old female pedestrian in Arlington.  The accident took place in early September in the 17100 block of McRae Road Northwest.  The time of the incident was approximately 8:45 a.m.

The driver, age 16, was texting while operating her motor vehicle.  As she was texting, the side mirror of her auto struck the pedestrian and knocked her to the ground.  The pedestrian was taken to Providence Medical Center.  She suffered a broken hand, a broken hip and arm injuries as a result of the incident.

Unlike our drunken, texting driver above, we should note that the teen driver immediately pulled over following the accident and ran to check on the injured pedestrian.  “I was texting,” she said.  “I’m sorry.”  While the apology was a noble act, the act of texting while driving is a dishonorable one.

Texting While Driving is Illegal Folks!

Washington law unequivocally prohibits drivers from using cell phones or wireless devices while driving.  Washington created its cell phone law on June 10, 2010 in the hopes of deterring the use of cell phones while driving.  Under this law, police can pull a motorist over if they spot a driver holding a cell phone to his ear or texting while driving.  If found guilty of this traffic offense, a driver can face a $124 fine.  Additional Fines and other penalties can easily result if a crash is involved.

Why is Texting While Driving Illegal?

Texting while driving is illegal because the act is very, very, very dangerous.  For the doubters among us, consider the following:

  • According to the National Safety Council, as of this year alone, there have been over 500,000 automobile crashes that involve drivers using cell phones and texting.  This translates into one crash occurring every 30 seconds.
  • As estimated by (the official U.S. Government website for distracted driving), over 3,300 people were killed in distraction-affected vehicle crashes in 2012.
  • Thirteen percent of all drivers in the United States, between the ages of 18 and 20, admit to texting or talking on their cell phone at the time of an accident.

Drive Smart!

Regardless of the above statistics, many of us cannot resist the urge to talk on our cell phones or text while driving.  The truth though is that these acts can result in injuries to innocent people.  This took place in Bonney Lake, it took place in Arlington, and it can take place in your community unless we all become smarter drivers.  Lead by example and resist the urge to use your cell phone while behind the wheel.  Just drive smart!  Smart drivers are responsible drivers and they help increase the safety of us all.

Please note that if you’ve been injured in an automobile accident by a motorist that was using a cell phone, you have the right to file a civil suit to recover any injuries you may have sustained.  The skilled attorneys at Phillips Law Firm can help you exercise this right.  They’re here for you and they’re ready to provide justice today!


The Phillips Law Firm would like to take a moment to express our sympathy to the family of Mrs. Sher Kung.  Mrs. Kung tragically died last month after she was struck by a truck while crossing Second Avenue on her bicycle in downtown Seattle.  Mrs. Kung was a wife, a new mother, and an attorney with the firm of Perkins Coie.  Suffice to say, she will be missed.

Facts of the Fatal Crash

Mrs. Kung, 31, was riding her bicycle to work in downtown Seattle on the morning of Friday, August 29th.  At approximately 8:45 a.m., she attempted to cross Second Avenue at the intersection of Second and University Street.  She was ultimately killed in the process as a left-turning truck hit her bicycle.  The impact occurred partway through the intersection.

The truck in question was labeled with the name Rubenstein’s, a commercial flooring company.  According to one witness, the driver of the truck was “hysterical” following the incident.  “He had opened the door, and was pacing around, screaming that she came out of his blind spot.  He was pretty broken up.”  According to the Seattle police, the truck driver cooperated with investigators and showed no sign of impairment.

In addition to being a new mother, Mrs. Kung was an associate attorney at Perkins Coie working in the firm’s litigation group.  Her focus was on intellectual property litigation.  On the day following the accident, the firm released a statement calling Mrs. Kung “one of our brightest young lawyers.”  The statement continued, she was “an exceptional lawyer and a wonderful comrade, with boundless energy, legal brilliance, and relentless optimism…Our hearts go out to her partner and their child, her extended family, and her many friends.”

A memorial ride was held for Mrs. Kung on Friday, September 5th.  Riders gathered at Westlake Park and then traveled to Benaroya Hall via Seattle’s bike lanes.  A brief service was held at Benaroya that included a moment of silence.

Days Before Upgrades

Mrs. Kung’s death proves even more tragic considering it came just prior to the implementation of upgrades that have been planned for Seattle’s dangerous Second Avenue bike lane.  These upgrades officially began on Friday, September 5th.  According to plans, the Seattle Department of Transportation is to convert the bike lane into a more protected route, from Pike Place Market to Pioneer Square.

More protection means left-turning cars and trucks will only be able to proceed on a green arrow.  Further, bike-shaped green lights will be installed to tell bikers when they can proceed straight through intersections.  Parked cars on Second Avenue will also be repositioned to form a cordon between the anticipated bike lane and moving cars.  Finally, pavement on Second Avenue will be painted green where streets and parking-garage driveways cross the bikeway.

Second Avenue has been considered a dangerous biking route for years.  There were 57 bike collisions from January 2007 to March 2013 on Second Avenue between Belltown and Pioneer Square.  Of these collisions, seven were at University Street and nine were in the block approaching University.  In 2013, John Pucher, a Rutgers University cycling expert, labeled the Second Avenue bikeway as “death-defying.”  He went on to state that he was almost hit five or six times on just one cycling trip downtown.

A Tragic Reminder

Mrs. Kung’s death provides us all with a very powerful reminder.  That being, drivers of motor vehicles and bicycles share Seattle’s roadways; and, they must find a way to safely co-exist.  Seattle has received much attention as of late for its numerous projects and plans to help improve biker safety.  While some of us support these measures, others disfavor them.  Regardless, we must all learn to be more responsible and attentive when driving a car, or riding a bicycle, when upon our City’s streets.  Once again, the Phillips Law Firm expresses it sympathy to the family of Mrs. Sher Kung for their insurmountable loss.


If you haven’t noticed yet, something a bit different is emerging alongside several of Seattle’s roadways.  No, we’re not talking about foreign weeds or unsightly debris.  We’re talking about protected bike lanes; and as always, the Phillips Law Firm is here to ensure you understand all the pertinent facts.

The Master Plan

Seattle’s emerging new bike lanes are all part of a master plan…the Bicycle Master Plan (BMP) to be precise.  The BMP is part of Seattle’s Department of Transportation’s (SDOT) overall plan to make Seattle’s streets safer and more accessible for bicyclists.  According to the SDOT website, Seattle’s new bike plan helps “eliminate perceived risk and fear of collisions; reduce the risk of dooring crashes; and add a level of predictability making streets safer for everyone.”  The SDOT website also expresses a hope that the master plan will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the health of our residents.  Over the past four years, SDOT has invested nearly $36 million in bicycle improvements under the BMP.

What do the New Protected Bike Lanes Look Like?

If you haven’t seen one of Seattle’s new bike lanes, they’re essentially a two-way protected bike lane that is located on one side of a street.  The lanes are separated from traffic by curbs, planters, parked cars, and/or posts.  Please take a closer look for yourselves:

The Green Lane Project

Seattle’s new protected lanes, and the BMP, are part of the Green Lane Project.  This project is a multi-year program designed to build better bike lanes throughout U.S. cities.  The first two years of the project (2012 and 2013) focused on improving the bike lanes in: Austin, TX, Chicago, IL, Portland, OR, San Francisco, CA and Washington, DC.  In March of 2014, the project selected six new cities, including Seattle.

The project’s goal is to create a connected system, within its targeted cities, for bikers to travel more easily around town.  The project hopes this goal will result in: increased safety for bikers and motorists, increased convenience for both, and increased financial savings for both.  The project also hopes more convenient access to safer bike lanes will result in people living a more active life style.

Be a “rOLL Model”

The SDOT website expresses that the organization wants to be a “rOLL model.”  It admits that safety is its primary concern and the number one goal under the BMP.  According to the website, SDOT’s “long term goal is a city with zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries.”

Education, however, is a central element within SDOT’s mission.  It hopes to educate both cyclists and motorists on the rules of the road and how to use new bike improvements.

What Do You Think?

The Phillips Law Firm is interested in hearing your thoughts on Seattle’s new protected bike lanes and the SDOT’s BMP.  Our firm encourages greater safety measures that protect both motorists and bicyclists.  Of course, we are committed at getting justice for you.  However, we also want safety for our citizens.

Due to the recent emergence of Seattle’s new bike lanes, no definitive studies currently exist to suggest whether they actually help achieve SDOT’s intended goals.  Do you think they will?  Or, do you believe better measures exist to achieve these same goals?  Please contact us with your thoughts.


bike damaged in a bike accidentImagine you’re riding your bike in the greater Seattle area.  It’s late.  It’s dark.  All of a sudden you’re hit by a car.  You’re catapulted off your bike and thrown into the windshield of the vehicle that struck. You roll off the car and lie helplessly in the middle of the street.  The motorist that struck you drives off like a coward.  You lie unconscious, cloaked in blood, with multiple cuts and injuries to your entire body.  What do you do?

Hope for a Hero

The above scenario is not just to spur thought.  The facts contained within are very real.  They involve a recent accident that took place near West Seattle.  The facts come together to form a tale of both cowardice and bravery.

On the evening of May 22nd, 30-year-old John Macy was riding his bicycle along Southwest Spokane Street near West Seattle. He was abiding by the law and was apparently safe from harm.  Or, so he thought.

A motorist soon collided with Macy’s bike.  The collision was so powerful that Macy was thrown through the windshield of the motor vehicle.  Macy eventually rolled back out of the car and ended up unconscious in the middle of the street.  The physical impact of the collision left Macy with a shattered skull, pelvis, and cuts all over his body.

The driver of the vehicle sped off.  He never once stopped.  Luckily, an act of heroism was about to take place.

Shortly after the collision, David Peterson came driving along Southwest Spokane Street.  He noticed something in the road that looked like debris from discarded bedding.  After further observation, he noticed that this particular “debris” had feet.

Peterson stopped and exited his vehicle.  He soon came to realize the feet belonged to the unconscious John Macy.  Peterson called 911 and then stayed by Macy’s side.  He touched his shoulder and talked to Macy until help arrived.

As a result of the collision, Macy underwent extensive reconstructive surgery.  He is currently doing well.  As for Peterson?  He should be lifted into the air on shoulders, praised, and receive honor for his heroism.

A Tale with Two Meanings

The Macy-Peterson story is important to us all because it helps deliver two very powerful messages.  The first relates to the fact that when we are driving our vehicles in King County, we are surrounded by all types of drivers.  There are the aggressors.  There are the cautious and safe motorists.  There are the young and the new drivers; and yes, there are the selfish cowards that cause a motor vehicle accident and choose to flee from the scene.

Our firm has handled countless of cases involving hit and run drivers.  They are unfortunate.  Many involve extensive damage to persons and property.  Many are complex and difficult because the true identity of the person causing injury cannot be readily discovered.

Nonetheless, these cases are not without resolution.  As the saying goes, “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”  Our talented team of attorneys strongly adheres to these words.  Even in the face of cowardice, they can find a way to bring peace and justice to your claim.  Whether it be through extensive research and investigation, tireless communications with insurance companies, or countless hours spent consulting with experts, our team can stand up to the cowards and win.

The Macy-Peterson story is also important because it reminds us to be good Samaritans.  Modern day society has tried to instill within us all several important messages.  Some of these include: “if you see something, say something,” “be a better person,” “walk tall,” and, “do the right thing.”  In short, become a David Peterson.

We all know that life is hard at times.  The more we trudge along, the more we understand that help is not always there.  Let’s all make a point of ensuring it’s there.  Let’s all make a commitment towards helping those in true need of assistance.

We look for ways everyday to honor this commitment.  We simply ask the same of you.

Image Credit: dopamineharper via Flickr


According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 677 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles in 2011. Obviously, there are risks associated with riding a bicycle, and riders should take every precaution to keep themselves safe. Wearing a helmet, regardless of age or skill level is the number one way to protect from injury. Sometimes, however, despite the best of intentions, Seattle bicyclists are involved in a motor vehicle accident. Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about bicycle accidents:

Q: I’ve just been in a bicycle accident. What can I do? A: Stay calm and assess yourself. Do you have any injuries, serious or otherwise? Even though you appear to be uninjured, that may not be the case. Remain still and wait to be examined by the EMTs. Definitely do not ride away! The time it will take to deal with the accident could be worth it.

Q: Is it possible to sue the driver of a car that hits me while I’m riding my bicycle? A: If the driver was at fault, yes, you can make a claim for your injuries. You can still make a recovery for your injuries if you are partially to blame, however, they will be reduced by your percentage of fault.

Q: Should I hire an attorney for my bicycle accident case? A: Yes, an experienced personal injury attorney can protect your rights and make sure that the insurance companies do not take advantage of you. Your attorney will conduct a thorough investigation and document your injuries while coordinating with the insurance companies to get you the greatest possible recovery.

Q: Are there time limits to file a lawsuit? A: Certain Statute of Limitations may apply, and can vary, depending on the circumstances of your case. It is imperative that you consult with a lawyer that is knowledgeable about these types of cases as soon as possible.

Q: What kinds of damages can I recover in a bicycle accident case? A: Bicycle accident victims may recover the cost of medical bills and lost earnings, among other expenses. If the accident results in the death of a loved one, the family may recover for pain and suffering of the family member before his death in addition to loss of love, affection, and emotional support, and in some cases, loss of economic support.


Due to their relatively narrow tires, common road hazards can present big problems for bicycles. Bicycle accidents resulting in serious injuries can be caused by changes in road surfaces, debris in the road, railroad tracks, sewer grates, and potholes, among other road hazards. When a known road hazard causes a bicycle accident, the governmental entity responsible for maintenance of the road may be liable for injuries resulting from that accident.

Several agencies have paid settlements to bicycle accident victims, including the Washington State Department of Transportation. The DOT awarded an $8 million settlement to a man who suffered a spinal cord injury, and resulting quadriplegia, as the result of a bicycle accident on the Montlake Bridge. The man claimed that the inch-wide gap in a section of metal grating that caused his accident had previously caused an accident.

Common Road Hazards and Negligence

Governmental agencies may be liable for bicycle accidents caused by potholes, if the entity was aware of the hazard and the pothole was caused by improper or insufficient road maintenance. Conversely, if a pothole has only been present for a short time, the public entity may not be liable.

Likewise, improperly installed sewer grates can pose dangers for bicyclists, and be a case for negligence. Most governmental agencies try to install sewer grates opposing the flow of traffic to prevent bicycle tires from becoming stuck in them. Covering them with crosshatches or changing their shapes are other means of keeping bicycle tires from becoming ensnared in sewer grates.

If the roadway crosses railroad tracks at an angle or curve, bicycle wheels can easily become stuck in the space between the road and the track. Bicyclists should be warned with signs about precarious crossings, or an alternate bike path could be provided. In cases where tracks are no longer in use, the appropriate public entity should remove or cover the tracks.

To determine negligence for a bicycle accident caused by a road hazard, the plaintiff must give proof that the governmental agency responsible for that particular section of road was conscious of the threat. The services of a knowledgeable personal injury attorney may be required to successfully accomplish this.


For the sixth consecutive year, the League of American Bicyclists has selected Washington as the most bicycle-friendly state in the country. This group has supported funding for biking legislation, bike programs and policies, infrastructure, education and planning since 2008.

Washingtonians have embraced bicycling as, not only a recreational past time and means of exercise, but as a legitimate mode of transportation that both enhances the quality of life and protects the environment. While the physical, economic, and environmental perks of cycling are plentiful, there are also an alarming number of bicycle accidents every year resulting in injury or death to cyclists.

Bicycle Accidents in Washington State and Across the Nation

The state has allotted nearly $18 million toward bicycle safety programs and the improvement of school routes. It is this dedication to improving infrastructure and growing ridership that consistently makes Washington the most bicycle-friendly state in the nation.

Despite this attention to safety, however, there were approximately six deaths from bicycle accidents in 2010. Bicycle accidents are an ever-present problem, particularly in Seattle. There are numerous intersections throughout the downtown area that are prone to bicycle accidents, and riders should be especially attentive in these areas.

Nationwide, there were 677 deaths from bicycle accidents reported in 2011. That number is down from 830 in 1995. There has also been a significant decrease in the number of injuries reported annually; 61,000 reported in 1995 compared to 38,000 in 2011, but there is still much work to do in order to raise awareness and remind drivers to share the road.

Alarming too is the number of hit-and-run bicycle accidents across the country. It is because of these hit-and-run accidents that three out of five at-fault drivers are never brought to justice.

Contact the Phillips Law Firm

Both minor and serious bicycle accidents happen every day, even though drivers are required to exercise reasonable care when sharing the road with cyclists. If a reckless or negligent driver has caused you or a family member to be injured in a bicycle accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries.

If a negligent driver injures you or someone you love, an experienced Seattle bicycle accident attorney at Phillips Law Firm can help. If you are interested in learning more about your legal options, call us at 1-800-708-6000. Our Seattle personal injury lawsuit attorneys are waiting to assist you 24/7, offering a free case evaluation. Remember our no fee promise. If we do not recover anything for you, you do not owe us an attorney fee.

The personal injury lawyers at Phillips Law Firm have successfully represented injured individuals and their families in Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver, Bellevue, Everett, Kent, Auburn, Renton, Federal Way, Bellingham, Marysville, Lakewood, Redmond, Shoreline, and throughout the State of Washington.