While cycling is quickly being adopted as the preferred mode of transportation by many in the U.S., countless people in New York City have relied on their bikes to get them where they need to go for years. The city’s unique layout makes it ideal for a thriving bicycle transportation network. However, entering on to the city’s roads on a bike is not without its hazards. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that nearly 467,000 bicycle-related injuries occurred in the U.S. in 2015 alone. Most might assume that those injuries were due to collisions with cars, yet an equally hazardous threat faces bicyclists that travel on roadways: potholes.
Potholes and other road hazards may not seem that big a threat due to the fact cars are able to absorb impacts from them rather easily. The same is not true for bicycles. Even a small pothole can overturn a bike and send its rider flying. Cities and municipalities are responsible for the upkeep of the local roads. Assigning liability to them after hitting a pothole on a bike, however, can be quite challenging.
According to the New York Bicycling Coalition, proving a city agency was at fault in a pothole accident requires showing that it had received prior written notice of the hazard’s presence. Evidence of city road or utility work done in the area (discovered through a search of public records) could, however, be sufficient to support such a claim.
In any case where one wants to bring a civil action against a local agency for failing to address the pothole that caused his or her bike accident, he or she must first file a Notice of Claim. This action must be taken within 90 days of the date of the accident.