John Forester, M.S., P.E.
Cycling Transportation Engineer
Consulting Engineer, Expert Witness & Educator in
Effective Cycling, Bicycles, Highways & Bikeways, Traffic Laws
7585 Church St., Lemon Grove, CA 91945-2306

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People vs Forester:

Santa Clara Superior Appellate; 1973. Defendant. Case involved two separate incidents, in which cyclist rode on roadway of street where sidewalk riding was required, and made a vehicular-style left turn on a street with bike lanes. Law was repealed, and later such ordinances were prohibited by state law.

People vs Morgan:

Santa Clara Municipal; CA 1975. Assisted Defendant. Defense of cyclist prosecuted for riding on an expressway that was misnamed a "freeway". Defendant lost.

Forester vs Consumer Product Safety Commission of the U.S.:

U.S.Court of Appeals; Dist..Columbia, 1975. I sued CPSC to rescind parts of its bicycle regulation which were scientifically unsound.4 points out of 16.

Kapatki vs California Dept of Parks and Recreation:

Santa Cruz Superior; CA, 1977. Assisted Plaintiff. The lack of a curve warning sign on park road newly opened to public caused cyclist to go off road at a sharp downhill curve. Plaintiff was awarded damages.

U. S. Customs vs Bendix:

U.S.Court, Laredo; TX 1978. Assisted Prosecution. Concerned proper definition of coaster brake. Prosecution won.

Smith vs Lilly:

San Mateo Superior; CA, 1979. Assisted Plaintiff. Cyclist hit by left-turning motorist. Settled out of court.

Ludeman vs NIDA:

Monterey Superior; CA, 1979. Assisted Plaintiff. Cyclist sued bicycle distributor for defective bicycle, but actually fell over edge of improperly repaved area of road. On my advice, case was withdrawn.

People vs Wachtel:

San Mateo Municipal, San Mateo Superior Appellate; CA, 1979. Assisted Defendant. Cyclist was alleged to have disobeyed the side-of-the-road law by riding straight alongside the parked cars, because only one-third of parking spaces were filled. Lost.

Ray vs Iverson:

U.S.Court, New Albany; IN, 1979. Assisted Defendant. Nighttime motorist-overtaking-cyclist collision. Plaintiff alleged defective rear reflector, but actually motorist was aged, had poor night vision and defective headlamps. Settled during trial for 15% of claim.

Stoien vs City of Boulder:

Boulder County District Court; CO, 1980. Assisted Defendant. Unlighted cyclist descending hill was hit by left-turning motorist. Cyclist sued city for lack of bike lanes, although bike lane would have had no effect. Successful defense.

Iudicello vs Aldens:

U.S.Court, Easton; PA, 1981. Assisted Plaintiff. Cyclist attempting to re-enter roadway after leaving it to let cars pass, fell over edge of pavement and was hit by car.  Defective instructions supplied by bicycle manufacturer. Plaintiff was awarded damages.

Capuano vs Almart Stores:

Northampton County Common Pleas; PA, 1981. Assisted Plaintiff. Unlighted cyclist descending hill was hit by left-turning motorist. Defective nighttime safety warnings and instructions had been supplied by bicycle manufacturer. Plaintiff was awarded damages.

Kangary vs Ware Cycles:

Milwaukee County Circuit; WI, 1981. Assisted Plaintiff. Three-speed coaster brake hub made by Fichtel & Sachs that was defectively designed and unlawful for sale in U. S., failed by slipping out of gear as cyclist was braking. Cyclist was injured by slipping off suddenly released pedal. was not called to testify, case was lost.

Massey vs Civil Service Insurance:

Arbitration, Oakland; CA 1982. Assisted Plaintiff. Cyclist was hit by hit-and-run motorist.

Saenz vs San Mateo Community College:

Arbitration, San Mateo; CA 1982. Assisted Plaintiff. Cyclist fell into parallel-bar drain grate.

Caporale vs Raleigh:

Circuit Court of Dade County; FL, 1983. Assisted Plaintiff. Loose quick-release on front wheel, absence of instructions on how to inspect and adjust. Settled out of court.

McKinney vs Schwinn et al:

Los Angeles Superior; CA, 1983. Assisted Defendant. Cyclist tried to pedal after chain had jammed between cluster and frame. He fell and sustained brain injuries. Defense for Schwinn only. Settled with only token payment by Schwinn.

Barna vs San Bernardino County:

San Bernardino Superior; CA 1983. Assisted Plaintiff. Traffic signal would not respond to cyclist's presence, cyclist turned left against unchanging red and was killed by a car from opposite direction. Lost.

Huckabay vs Industrial Disposal Service:

District Court of Bexar County; TX, 1983. Assisted Plaintiff. Truck driver, after seeing a cyclist wandering about on the roadway a long distance ahead of him, failed to slow down but insisted, with blowing air horn, on overtaking on cyclist's right-hand side. Cyclist was killed. Settled during trial. 

Darbyshire vs Shimano et al:

Santa Barbara Superior; CA, 1983-4. Assisted Defendant. Cyclist claimed to be injured through defective quick-release hub. Defense of Shimano only, manufacturer of hub. I showed that quick-release was properly manufactured and had been properly adjusted and used, and that bicycle had been ridden much further than cyclist claimed. Settled before trial with token payment by Shimano.

Schwandt vs City of Monterey:

Monterey Superior; CA 1984. Assisted Plaintiff. Cyclist hit signpost that city had installed near center of a compulsory-use bicycle and pedestrian sidewalk. Signpost was partially hidden by overhanging tree. Jury found that since facility was not a bicycle path and was safe for pedestrians, no hazardous condition existed. The excuse was left open because of excessive caution by plaintiff's attorneys, who were afraid to use the fact that the city required cyclists to use the facility by prohibiting their use of the adjacent street.

People vs Strohmeyer:

San Jose Municipal; Santa Clara CA, 1984. Assisted Defendant. Motorist Strohmeyer hit a cyclist at night at a Y-merge intersection where merging motorists could not see cyclist's approach, lighting was inadequate, there were no right-of-way signs or signals, and where the bike lane made cyclists swerve toward the most dangerous motor traffic. Strohmeyer was convicted.

Olivero vs Cumberland County:

Cumberland County Court; NJ, 1984. Assisted Plaintiff. A short section of a wide street that was marked as a bikeway was narrow and had crumbled edges with a dangerous drain grate. A cyclist swerved around the defective area and was hit by a car. Settled out of court.

Barnes vs Regents of University of Georgia:

Fulton County Superior Court; GA, 1985. Assisted Defendant. Cyclist was riding across an unmown grassy area to enter a sidewalk at about a 45 degree angle. The edge of the sidewalk stopped his front wheel, cyclist landed on head and was blinded in one eye.  Settled on trial morning for nominal sum.

Bertrand vs B.M.X. Products:

U. S.Court, Colorado, 1985. Assisted Plaintiff. Young cyclist was jumping a B.M.X.bicycle when the front wheel fell off in midair. Cyclist incurred permanent brain injury when front forks dug into ground and bicycle somersaulted. Analysis showed that cyclist was performing a normally safe jump. Tests showed that the front-wheel retention device designed by B.M.X. fails to meet the requirements of the U. S.Product Safety Commission. This failure allowed the wheel to fall out.  Settled on very favorable terms with a secrecy agreement after presentation of plaintiff's case.

Francis vs F. W. Woolworth Co:

U. S. District Court, St. Croix, Virgin Is., 1985. Assisted Defendant. Cyclist who had improperly assembled his brakes knew that the front brake wasn't working and the rear brake wasn't working properly. He descended a hill and hit a small truck that failed to stop at a stop sign. The condition of the bicycle indicated far more use than the three weeks ownership and ten rides that the plaintiff claimed. Plaintiff presented scientifically absurd testimony that brakes faded because they were of typical design. Insurance company decided to settle before presenting the reasonable testimony that was available.

Selken vs City of Austin:

District Court of Travis County, Texas. 1985 Assisted Plaintiff. Cyclist ran off bike path at very deceptive Y intersection between paths. The branch was on a descent, difficult to see because the grade increased, with a reverse curve to make the turn and with reverse banking. No warning signs and plenty of room to have made a safe intersection, as the off-the-path tracks of other cyclists showed. This cyclist hit a rock and flipped, breaking his neck. City settled before trial for an amount favorable for plaintiff.

Willette vs Yamaha:

U. S. District Court, Boston, Mass. 1985 Assisted Defendant. Cyclist ran off the road at a downhill curve, alleging that he did so because of a defective bicycle. Both top and down tube had broken just behind the lugless joints where they were brazed to the head-tube, giving rise to the allegation that these failures caused the accident. Accident reconstruction showed that the cyclist must have been upright on his bicycle while traversing the shoulder until he hit a ditch, and that hitting the far wall of the ditch caused both the injuries and the damage to the bicycle. Based on the reconstruction, Yamaha was able to settle for a small amount.

Sloane vs County of Marin:

Superior Court of Marin County, San Rafael CA. 1986. Assisted Plaintiff. Cyclist descending a hill came to a curve where the roadbed had repeatedly subsided, leaving a sharp edge almost parallel to his path and gravel on the surface. The edge knocked him out of control onto the gravel, so that he could not steer around the curve. He hit the ditch and a rock wall, suffering head injuries. The subsidence had frequently been repaired and was generally a problem, but no warning signs had been erected and no attempts had been made to control the fall of gravel onto the roadway or to sweep it away. Settled satisfactorily just before trial.

Cadwallader vs Stranix:

Common Pleas, 7th Dist.., Bucks County, PA. 1986. Assisted Cadwalladers. Stranix, driving a car on a two-lane rural highway, incorrectly thought that there was inadequate room to overtake a child cyclist who was waiting at the side of the road for his parents to catch up with him. Stranix braked hard, spun, and hit the child while traveling sideways. Stranix cross-sued with 'expert' testimony that children could not control their bicycles sufficiently to ride safely on that road and that the Cadwallader parents were negligent for letting their son ride on it. After my report, Stranix settled satisfactorily.

Sloane vs County of Marin

Marin Country Superior Court, CA 1986. Assisted Richard A. Seltzer, attorney for plaintiff. Sloane descended a curving rural hill, with the high ground to his right. He approached a left curve where the road crossed a gully that had been filled. The road surface had sunk many feet over the years, being filled over and resurfaced periodically. At this time, a semi-circular part of the road had sunk , leaving a semicircular step about one inch high across most of the road. The step caught the front wheel of Sloane's bicycle and in trying to recover he steered into the bank and was injured. Result unknown.

Sturhann vs Santa Fe Railway Co:

San Diego County Superior Court, CA. 1986. Assisted Santa Fe Railway Co. Sturhann fell while crossing a right-angle railroad crossing in San Diego. Because the front wheel was unlatched it came out, and Sturhann was not wearing his helmet. Settled shortly before trial.

Rodriguez, Estate of, vs City of San Francisco:

San Francisco Superior Court, CA., 1987. Assisted Thomas Steel, representing Plaintiff. Rodriguez fell on sharply-diagonal railroad crossing leading to pier on San Francisco's Embarcadero, was hit by a car and killed. Since railroad service to the pier had been abandoned there was no need for any cyclist to run the risk of crossing the tracks, so the question of Rodriguez's competence was not relevant. Settled before trial.

Angelos vs Burlington Northern RR:

Cook County Circuit Court, IL., 1987. Assisted William Burke of James Thomas Demos & Assoc, representing Plaintiff. Angelos fell on diagonal railroad crossing from which Burlington Northern had removed a protective plank in anticipation of abandonment of that track. Settled before trial.

Terry vs County of Los Angeles:

Los Angeles Superior Court, CA., 1987. Assisted William Howard, representing Plaintiff. Terry was riding at night with a headlamp on a beach bike path that paralleled the sea wall. The path dropped from a lighted area above the sea wall to the beach below, entering an area of deep shadow, where it turned away from the sea wall. No lights were installed to fill in the shadow, nor was the turn indicated by signs or edge striping. In the dark shadow Terry could not distinguish the concrete path from the sandy beach. He rode straight alongside the sea wall, entered the sandy area, overturned and broke his neck. Settled during presentation of plaintiff's case.

Bonang vs Rancho Motor Co & Peter Van Nuys:

San Bernardino Superior Court, CA., 1987. Assisted Richard Gibson of Bruggeman, Smith & Peckham representing Defendant Peter Van Nuys. Van Nuys had organized a nighttime bicycle ride in which Bonang participated. An employee of Rancho Motors, driving a company car while intoxicated and in violation of restrictions on his license, hit Bonang from the rear and killed him. Bonang's widow sued Rancho and Van Nuys; Rancho cross-sued Van Nuys. So far as Van Nuys was concerned, this raised the question of whether a ride organizer is responsible for the condition of the roads and traffic on the route he has chosen, for the condition of the participants' equipment and for their skill. In settlement before trial, Rancho paid 98% and Van Nuys paid 2%.

Paul vs County of San Bernardino:

San Bernardino Superior Court, CA., 1987. Assisted Richard S. Stout of Christensen & Stout, attorneys for Plaintiff. Cyclist fell at place where mud and other debris were directed across a bike path rather than underneath through a culvert. Settled before trial.

Levy-Galleguillos vs Farmers Insurance Group:

Santa Cruz Superior Court, CA., 1988. Assisted Charles Davis, attorney for Plaintiff. Cyclist was injured and bicycle was damaged while riding on a lonely rural road. Cyclist claimed that she was hit head-on by a hit-and-run driver on the wrong side of the narrow road. Her insurance company denied the claim and the case went to initial arbitration. The defendant advanced an expert opinion that the damage to the bicycle was caused by braking while going over a ripple in the road surface. I showed that the damage had to be caused by a hard impact, that the vegetation on each side of the road was too soft to cause that damage, and that the bicycle could not have reached the location where it was found without being carried there by some unknown person. Conclusion: there had been a vehicle in the road. Arbitrator awarded damages to plaintiff.

Rees vs City of Sioux City, Iowa:

Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, 1988. Assisted James Abshier, City Attorney. Cyclist was riding across a short bridge on its sidewalk, protected on both sides by railings. As he left the bridge and the railed-in area, the cyclist swerved off the sidewalk onto a dirt area depressed one to four inches below the level of the sidewalk, fell and suffered spinal injury. There was neither physical reason nor misleading appearance to cause the swerve off the sidewalk, which either was of the cyclist's own volition or because he was unable to properly control his bicycle. Plaintiff argued strongly that the cyclist used the sidewalk because traffic was so dangerous, but this false and irrelevant argument was rebutted and the defense argument that the swerve off the sidewalk was the cyclist's own fault prevailed. Successful defense.

Lyman vs County of Alameda:

Alameda Superior Court, California, 1988. Assisted Richard Duane for Plaintiff. The accident occurred where a bike path along a river descended under a highway bridge and proceeded between the bridge pier and the water. Although the path turned only about 15 degrees to parallel the pier, bad design made this a blind corner whose blindness was not apparent until the cyclist had got very close to it. Furthermore, the effective width of the path was narrowed on one side by the pier and on the other by erosion. Two cyclists traveling in opposite directions, one at 5 mph the other at 10-12, met at the blind corner and collided head on, injuring Lyman. Plaintiff lost. The jury knew that Lyman was traveling too fast for conditions, but did not understand that he could not perceive the need to reduce speed until too late.

Olinger vs Abassi:

San Francisco Superior Court, California, 1989. Assisted James Taggart for Plaintiff. As Olinger rode along a two-lane road, Abassi backed a van out of a parking slot on the left side of the road and crossed into Olinger's lane. Olinger collided with the side of Abassi's van and was injured in the fall. Settled before trial.

Cunningham vs Washington Gas Light Co.:

U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, 1989. Assisted S. Churchill Elmore for Plaintiff. As Cunningham overtook a van owned by defendant that was stopped in the traffic lane, apparently waiting in line for a green light, an employee of defendant suddenly opened the right-hand door immediately in front of Cunningham. Cunningham hit the door and was injured. Although Cunningham was operating lawfully and defendant's employee disobeyed the law by opening the door in front of traffic, the judge ruled that if Cunningham was operating dangerously she could not recover damages and allowed expert testimony only to state whether Cunningham was operating safely or dangerously. Since the jury felt that overtaking a stopped vehicle (rather than waiting behind it) was dangerous, Cunningham lost. The judge's ruling denied Cunningham her right to rely on the presumption that other drivers would obey the traffic laws, which is an intolerable proposition.

Wilson vs Bicycle South et al:

U.S. District Court, Northern Georgia, Atlanta: 1989. The rear wheel of a cyclist on a trans-continental cycle-camping tour collapsed when descending a 6% grade. She suffered head injuries of indeterminate type. She sued the bicycle's wheel builder, manufacturer and retailer, and the manufacturer of her helmet. I assisted Jonathan Engram of Swift, Currie, McGhee & Hiers in defense of retailer Bicycle South. Plaintiff claimed that the wheel was in new condition. Plaintiff's expert Green claimed that her gear ratios prevented her from propelling her bicycle fast and that the wheel had collapsed from general looseness of the spokes, produced by initial manufacturing errors and not detected by the expected inspection by the retailer. I showed that her trip diary gave evidence of hard use over rough roads under emotionally-trying circumstances, that several spoke nipples showed that someone other than the manufacturer or the bicycle retailer had altered the tension of the wheel's spokes, presumably to correct some damage already incurred, and that the coasting speed on that hill was about 27mph near the point of the accident. Successful defense of retailer, bicycle manufacturer and wheel builder. Verdict against helmet manufacturer, who had a reputation for making inadequate helmets and is now out of business.

Labat vs Huffy & Schuck's Auto Supply:

King County Superior Court, Washington: 1989. Assisted Robert Curran of Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland in defense of Schuck's. Plaintiff purchased a Huffy bicycle from Schuck's and took it home in her car. She then immediately rode it from her home down city streets with grades up to 16%. Believing that she could not stop the bicycle she crashed it, incurring head injury that might reduce her earning power. I reproduced the adjustments of the brakes at the time of the crash on a similar bicycle and demonstrated that it was easily stopped in a reasonable distance anywhere on the hill, even after free coasting to that point. Other matters also raised doubt about plaintiff's veracity. Settled before trial at approximately the cost that would be incurred in trial.

Schaffner vs Schwinn & Chicago Northwestern Railway:

Cook County Superior Court, Illinois, 1985-89. Assisted George Brant, attorney for Chicago Northwestern Railway. Schaffner, a teen-aged boy, cycled to the movies with his friends, where they parked their bicycles one against the other. Upon leaving the movies, they disentangled their bicycles and Schaffner cycled two blocks to cross the CNW tracks at a normal, right-angle crossing. On the crossing his front wheel, a quick-release type, disengaged from the forks and he fell on his head, incurring injury. Almost certainly, Schaffner's front-wheel quick-release lever was moved to the unlatched position during the parking/unparking maneuvers, permitting the front wheel to disengage at the first significant bump thereafter. However, Schwinn chose not to cooperate with CNW on this defense, and its expert, Fred DeLong, testified that Schaffner's wheel could have been caught in the gap between the ends of the planks that bordered each track, so that Schaffner's efforts in steering the bicycle wrenched the front wheel loose. That is physically impossible, but if it were possible it would condemn Schwinn for making a defective bicycle. I so stated in deposition but was prevented from testifying, and Schwinn succeeded in passing the burden to CNW.

Bourret vs Cooper:

Santa Clara Superior Court, California, 1989. I assisted Stephen Blick of Hawkins, Blick & Fitzpatrick, attorney for plaintiff. Bourret was cycling on a multi-lane, divided rural highway and intending to make a left turn. He looked behind to see whether the lanes were clear to make his leftward lane change. When he again looked ahead he saw that Cooper, driving a car, had entered the roadway from a close-by stop sign and was directly ahead of him and crossways to him, obviously attempting to turn to her left. He chose to try to brake and to dodge behind Cooper's car, but failed and fell. Cooper's insurance company refused to pay, arguing that Bourret had been cycling too fast for a bicyclist and had been unlawfully riding on the paved shoulder of the highway, while ignoring the fact that Cooper had testified that she had not looked left while entering the roadway. I deposed that the speed limit for cyclists was the same as for other drivers, that cyclists were commonly expected to use a paved shoulder where one was available, and that Cooper's proper action, given the vision-obstructing traffic sign of which she complained, would have been to have crept slowly into the roadway while looking continuously to her left. After that, the case was settled favorably for Bourret.

Boruck vs KSK Enterprises:

King County Superior Court, Washington, 1989. I assisted Kevin Keith and Peter Moote, attorneys for plaintiff. KSK manufactured an unusual child carrier, one in which the child sat on a supplementary saddle that was installed on the top tube of the bicycle and rested his/her feet on pegs that extended from the down tube. Boruck was riding with her child on the carrier when the bicycle suddenly stopped and pitched over forwards, throwing her and child to the ground. The front forks of the bicycle were bent backwards about 3 inches and two adjacent left-hand front-wheel spokes were curved inwards, toward the right. The child's left shoe was no longer on his foot.

Eugene Sloane examined the bicycle for the defendants and concluded that the accident was caused by excessively loose brake installation by the manufacturer, Peugeot. Sloane stated that this loose installation allowed the brake to jam the front wheel. I showed that the front brake and its installation were entirely typical of a widely-used type, one that I use myself, and the characteristics that Sloane declared to be dangerous did not allow the postulated movement and that the photographs that Sloane supplied were of a different type of brake that mounted differently. The judge described Sloane's affidavit as "bizarre."

Previously I had thought that bent-back front forks must imply a head-on impact because the front forks are sufficiently strong to pitch the cyclist over the handlebars when the front brake is excessively applied, without damage to the forks. However, by mathematical analysis I was able to show that if the front wheel is stopped extremely quickly the forces required to accelerate the cyclist's mass into the pitchover maneuver can greatly exceed the strength of the front forks. Furthermore, the two gently-bent spokes showed that something like a child's shoe had been trapped between the spokes and the left fork blade, an event that could provide the sudden jamming required to bend the fork blades while initiating pitchover. I also described how a simple guard, similar to those used in Europe to keep women's skirts out of the wheel, would have prevented this accident. On the basis of my affidavit about the above items, the court granted summary judgement of liability against defendant.

Hawthorne vs Hoffman & Kransko:

District Court, Collin County, TX, 1989. Assisted Sudie Thompson and James Macdonald of McCauley, Macdonald, Love, Devin & Brinker, attorneys for Defendant Kransko. Hawthorne's seven-year-old son was riding in the street a play toy manufactured by Kransko. He failed to yield at a stop sign and was killed in a collision. I testified that neither riding in the street, despite adequate warnings, nor the failure to yield were caused by any defect in the toy. Settled before trial satisfactorily to Kransko.

Cases to 1989 page last changed: 04-Feb-14

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