Motorcycles 101 (Part 3 of 3)

Part 1 discussed some of the basics of motorcycling, Part 2 dealt with practical riding tips, and Part 3 will focus on tips to keep in mind when purchasing a motorcycle.

13) When you choose a bike make sure your feet can comfortably touch the ground when you are seated.

14) Keep in mind that bigger is not necessarily better. Small bikes can be easier to maneuver, park, store and to handle in general.

15) Don’t compromise on your first bike. You may not be able to afford the best bikes on the market, but make sure you want the bike you buy. You should feel good riding the bike, both comfort-wise and asethics-wise. Most of all, you should look forward to getting on your bike in the morning.

16) At the same time however, do NOT buy your dream bike as your first bike.

a) You will damage it and the cost will be less emotionally and financially draining if you do not purchase that bike you have

been dreaming of owning since you were 15.

b) Buy cheaper bikes until you become an experienced rider and you know what you want and what to look for in a bike.

17) Take advantge of motorcycle forums on the web when trying to determine which bike is right for you. Read the reviews and make your decision based on user experience, not manufactorer advertising.

18) Make sure you have set aside money for general maintenance before you purchase your motorcycle.

There is a multitude of tips and advice for motorcyclists that have not been included in this series. To be a safe motorcyclists search out these tips. Read about motorcycles and riding techniques online or strike up a rapport with your local motorcycle dealer. Make training and learning a life-long goal.


Kardas, Jeff. “50 Things New Riders Should Know (And Experienced Riders Shouldn’t Forget).” American Motorcyclist 66.8 (August 2012): 46-48. Print.

Objectivity Wins this Round

In New Hampshire motorcycle sound testing will now be conducted using instruments, like the one pictured below, that provide roadside, objective measurements. This is in contrast to the subjective test which most motorcycles are subjected to throughout the country. New Hampshire’s SAE J2825 authorizes roadside testing using measurement of sound exhaust sound pressure levels of stationary bikes. This test will be administered before any ticket can be issued.


This new law is good news for responsible motorcycle riders as they will now have ways to prove that their bikes meet legal standards. Hopefully, as this technology becomes streamlined, more states will adopt similar laws.

The New Hampshire law takes effect January 1, 2013.


“New Hampshire Adopts Objective Sound Test.”  American Motorcyclist 66.8 (August 2012): 46-48. Print.

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Motorcycle 101 (Part 2 of 3)

Part 1 discussed some of the basics of motorcycling. Part 2 will deal more with practical riding tips.

6) Scan: Be aware of what is going on around you at all times. As a motorcyclist you must be an active driver. It is your life on the line, so be aware and compensate for bad drivers around you.

7) Pace: Ride at your own pace. Don’t follow the pack/leader. Do only what you feel comfortable doing.

8) Brake!: Learn to use both front and back brakes and PRACTICE! Make sure you can slam on the brakes as quickly and as safely as possible.

9) Lane Position:  Try to make yourself as visible as possible to drivers around you and make sure that you have an ‘escape route’ if a situation becomes dangerous. Assume you are invisible to most drivers so put in the extra effort to make sure they see you.

10) Double Check: Always perform a head-check when changing lanes or turning.

11) Triple Check:  Take the extra time to adjust your controls. Check all of the levers on your bike and make sure you can intuitively reach for them and find them instantly. You do NOT want to be fumbling around, trying to find the correct lever on a ride.

12) Comfort Matters!!!: Unlike with a car, your comfort matters when riding a bike. Here are a few important tips to remember that will affect your health and the safety of you and those around you.

a) Drink Water- Stay Hydrated. Especially on long rides.

b) Invest in Proper Safety Gear- A Helmet, Gloves, Over-the-Ankle-Boots, Riding Pants and a Riding Jacket. Even a minor                    collision can mean serious injury for motorcycle riders. You should AWLAYS ‘dress for a crash’ whether it is a short ride or a long ride.

c) Invest in Waterproof Gear – If you live in the Bay Area riding in the rain and low-lying fog will be a fairly common occurrence. So invest in some waterproof gear. The more comfortable you are when riding, the less distracted you are, the safer you will drive. It will be worth it.

d) Don’t ride on an empty stomach. Same reasoning as before. An empty stomach means you are distracted. Don’t be distracted!

e) Most of all, as cheesy as it sounds, listen to your body. Don’t try to push through discomfort, hunger or thirst because that means that at a minimum you are distracted, and on a motorcycle driving distracted means dangerous.

Check back soon for the final installment of the series, Part 3!


Kardas, Jeff. “50 Things New Riders Should Know (And Experienced Riders Shouldn’t Forget).” American Motorcyclist 66.8 (August 2012): 46-48. Print.

Allstate Does Good… Maybe?

“Every day in the U.S., an average of three motorcyclists are killed at intersections in crashes that involve other vehicles.” In order to help eliminate these crashes,  Allstate established its Once is Never Enough (as in, look twice before crossing the road) Program. As part of this program Allstate works with local traffic authorities to identify dangerous intersections and then donates and installs warning signs at these locations. The “Watch for Motorycle” signs have been developed by Allstate since no such official, standardized sign exists.


It seems that for once, Allstate really does have the driver’s best interests in mind. Although the program is probably nothing more than a marketing strategy (the signs are only going up in 30 U.S. cities throughout the year), it has serious potential, especially since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 46% of all multi-vehicle crashes occur at intersections. Whatever the motive or extent may be, if these signs make even a few drivers look twice at an intersection than they have done their job and more.


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Motorcycles 101 (Part 1 of 3)

Motorcycling, whether as a hobby or as a practicle means of transportation, can be an enjoyable, money-saving endeavor. However, it can also lead to expensive, life-altering mistakes.Whether you are a motorcycle veteran or a relative newcomer it is good to remember that on the road you are vulnerable. In a recent article, American Motorcyclist outlined the 50 Things New Riders Should Know (and Experienced Riders Shouldn’t Forget).

1) Be Legal/Get Licensed: A piece of paper will not make you a better driver, but the attitude with which you approach motorcycling will. Get serious, get a license.

2) Passengers Second: Learn how to drive your motorcyle alone before adding a passenger. Remember, you are responsbile for your passenger’s safety, so make sure you are comfortable on the road before you take on that responsbility.

3) Don’t be Proud: Get training. Negotiating traffic on a motorcycle will be different from any other driving experience you have ever had. You may have ridden a dirt bike and you have probably been driving cars for years, but that doesn’t make you an expert. Bottom Line: it’s better to be safe.

4) Maintenance:

a. Do It Yourself- become familiar with your bike and whenever possible figure it out yourself. That way you will know when something isn’t quite right.

b. Check your tire pressure regularly and often.

c. For those problems that you just can’t fix yourself find a local mechanic. Strike up a rapport. Get comfortable asking questions. It is always better to ask a question then to be unsure.

5) Seek Local Knowledge: If you are just getting started riding in the Bay Area and San Francisco (or anywhere new) look for bike shops and events and talk to people. Seek out advice and suggestions. You might be suprised by what you find out and it will save you a lot of time and stress in the future.

Check back soon for more tips/suggestions in Part 2!

If you ever need a motorcycle accident lawyer, contact us for a free consultation.


Kardas, Jeff. “50 Things New Riders Should Know (And Experienced Riders Shouldn’t Forget).” American Motorcyclist 66.8 (August 2012): 46-48. Print.

Congress at the Wheel? – Well, we knew it was dangerous…

A while back I wrote about Congress’s progress on negotiations surrounding the Federal Transportation Bill. Now those negotiations are closed, the vote has been taken, and the Federal Transportation Bill has finally passed.

While the passage of any transportation bill is encouraging after so many delays threatened to freeze funds, alternative transportation advocates are understandably disappointed with the final bill. Many of the programs in the previous bill advocating cycling and pedestrian paths have been gutted and funding has been compromised. This news is especially disappointing since representatives, like Senator Barbara Boxer, promised to protect these programs.

Here is an overview, courtesy of America Bikes, of the major differences between the previous transportation bill and the current bill and what this could mean for cyclists and pedestrians in California and the Bay Area.

1) The 2012 bill combines Safe Routes to School, Transportation Enhancements, Recreational Trails and ‘Some Road Usages’ into a single category. These programs no longer have separate funding and distribution mechanisms. This means that not only will alternative transportation programs be competeing against one another for funding, they will also be competing against highway and road projects classified as ‘road usages’.

2) Funding for this category has been cut from $1.2 billion to $800 million.

3) The old bill allowed states to redistribute 10-15% of funds from these alternative transportation programs to other transportation uses.  Under the new bill states could transfer 50-100% depending on the circumstances.

This bill will be in effect until October of 2014.



Federal transportation bill negates decades of progress

Bad News Berkeley

Between 2005-2010 there were 819 cycling accidents in Berkeley making it the 4th most dangerous city for cyclists in the Bay Area.

The recent death of world-renown neuropsychologist, Shlomo Bentin, in a cycling accident near the UC Berkeley campus, has brought more attention to the dangers of cycling in downtown and southern Berkeley.

One of the reasons Berkeley may be an epicenter for cycling accidents is that it has one of the highest bike commuter rates in the nation,  about 8 percent of residents commute by bike. The city should be proud of the achievement, but at the same time city officials need to recognize that this constituency needs to be supported with safe and readily available infrastructure. Berkeley cyclists have been calling for reform and improvements for many years. The East Bay chapter of the Bicycle Coalition argues that road conditions and lack of safe bike lanes make the areas around the campus some of the most dangerous in the Bay Area for cyclists.



Tucker v Mejia Verdict Summary

We are pleased to report a plaintiff’s verdict obtained in the San Francisco Superior Court on July 26, 2012 by Lenore Shefman of the Shefman Law Group and Shaana A. Rahman with Rahman Law PC in the case of Tucker v. Mejia.  The case involved a hit and run collision between plaintiff, who was traveling on Eddy Street on a fixed gear bicycle, and defendant, an independent contractor operating a Lorrie’s shuttle van.  The collision occurred on August 17, 2009 on Eddy Street, near its intersection with Mason.  Plaintiff Tucker was riding his bicycle in the number one lane when the defendant began making a lane change from the number two lane into Mr. Tucker’s lane of travel.  The van sideswiped Mr. Tucker causing Mr. Tucker to be ejected from his bicycle onto his face.

Mr. Tucker sustained serious facial injuries, including two jaw fractures and two facial fractures all of which required immediate surgery.  Plaintiff incurred past medical expenses of approximately $150,000.00.

Defendant never stopped his van and left the scene.  A witness chased the van and although the van was identified as a Lorrie’s van, there was never any positive identification of the driver or the van number.  Through the use of Lorrie’s internal documents relating to its drivers plaintiff identified four of the 30 Lorrie’s drivers who were in the Union Square area at the time of the collision. Further investigation pointed to defendant Mejia as being the only driver on Eddy Street at the time of the collision.  Defendant Mejia denied being involved in the collision although admitted to being on Eddy Street approximately 10 minutes after the collision when he was briefly stopped by the police.

Defendant further contended that there was no contact between the van and the bicyclist.  Defendant’s accident reconstruction/biomechanical expert opined that as plaintiff was on a fixed gear bicycle with a single break it was likely that he over-braked and pitched himself over the handlebars.  Defendant also contended that plaintiff veered from his lane into the defendant’s lane to make a right turn.  As plaintiff admitted fault for the collision to the investigating officers the defendant maintained that plaintiff was to blame for his injuries.

An internal investigation by Lorrie’s led to the identification of four drivers possibly involved, but Lorrie’s never disciplined Mr. Mejia or concluded that he was the driver.  Prior to trial the Shefman Law Group reached a settlement with Lorrie’s in the amount of $250,000.00.

The case was tried before The Hon. Ellen Chaitan.  Defense counsel was Susan Watson with Harrington, Fox et al.  A cross-complaint for indemnity was filed by Lorrie’s counsel Stephanie Krmpotic.  The cross-complaint issue was bifurcated.

After an eight day trial and one day of deliberation, the jury returned a 12-0 verdict in favor of plaintiff in the amount of $593,172.67.  The jury found that plaintiff was not comparatively at fault.

Confusion on the JFK Bikeway

Earlier this year the SF Municipal Transportation Agency revealed the new JFK separated bikeway. Since its unveiling there have been mixed reviews on the effectiveness of such a design. For those of you who have not ventured over to Golden Gate Park to see what the fuss is all about, the new separated bikeway looks like this:

The SFBC noticed that in the early stages of use there were three main problems with the design:

1. Cars parking in the bike lane

2. Cars parking in the buffer lane

3. Pedestrians exiting cars and crossing the bike lane without looking out for bikes

According to the SFBC these problems largely rectified themselves as riders and drivers became acclimated to the new design. They found that in general, cyclists felt safer using the lane because there was so much space between them and moving traffic.

Protected bike lanes are increasing in number throughout the United States and with Market Street improvements on the table and city planners always looking for new ways to integrate bikes onto city streets, it is important to have an open and productive conversation about the strengths and weaknesses of this type of protected bike lane.

In May the San Francisco Bay Guardian expressed a few of its concerns with such a design:

1. The increased potential for pedestrian and cyclist collisions

2. The lack of traffic enforcement leading to use of the buffer lane during peak hours, increasing the potential for collision between cars and between cars and cyclists.

It is clear that San Francisco needs better and safer bike lanes. However, the jury is still out on this particular type of protected bike lane. What can be improved with this type of project? How can we do it better next time?

Offer your feedback on the JFK bikeway by taking the SFMTA Survey and take part in the Market Street Improvement discussions.



Bike + BART = Better for Everyone

For the next five Fridays commuters will see bicycles on BART trains during rush hours. The change is courtesy of a pilot program BART is running as part of its new goal to double BART ridership among cyclists. The Draft 2012 BART Bicycle Plan has more on BART’s goals for the coming years.

Normally bikes are not allowed on BART trains during rush hours in the morning and the evening, so those people from the East Bay region who might combine public transportation and cycling in order to avoid the frustrating, expensive and environmentally degrading commute, are unable to do so.

The pilot program lifts the ban on August 3rd, August 10th, August 17th, August 24th and August 31st. The SFBC encourages riders to take advantage of the program and to help make a statement. This ban is good for BART and good for the community.

In order to make the program as great a success as possible, SFBC encourages riders to remember a few key rules:

1. Bikes are still not allowed in the first car

2. Bikes are not allowed in crowded/full cars

3. Bikes must give priority to elderly and disabled persons

4. Please be as courteous and polite as possible. The success of the program depends on you!

For those of you who are interested in ways to combine public transportation and cycling outside of the designated pilot program days, there are a couple of alternatives in the Bay Area:

1. CalTrans Bike Shuttle

2. AC Transit