Bike Lawyer Hurt in Avondale Crash

Update: Pothole fixed. Ken Rosskopf, a Decatur attorney specializing in bicycle law, broke nine ribs when a deep pothole caused him to wreck his 20-speed bike.


In a Friday email to Ken Rosskopf, Avondale Commission Member David Milliron said the pothole has been fixed.

"Please know the City of Avondale Estates immediately took care of the pothole once it was brought to its attention," Milliron wrote. "The City has an inter-governmental agreement with DeKalb County, which is responsible for road maintenance in Avondale Estates."

A Decatur lawyer who specializes in bicycling cases says he broke nine ribs last Saturday when his bike hit a deep pothole in an Avondale Estates road.

Ken Rosskopf said he crashed on Clarendon Avenue near DeKalb County Fire Station No. 3. The spot is close to the 19-mile bike path developed by the PATH Foundation connects Stone Mountain to the Martin Luther King Center.

Rosskopf said he was riding alone on his 20-speed time-trial bike, outfitted with aerodynamic handlebars, in preparation to compete in the upcoming Georgia Golden Olympics. In a time trial, the bicycle racer competes alone against the clock.

After riding out to Stone Mountain, Rosskopf says he was riding down Clarendon and approaching the fire station when his front wheel struck the edge of the pothole.

The impact of the hole broke Rosskopf's handlebars, and he crashed, but did not lose consciousness, he said. Bicyclists riding behind him stopped to help him, and an ambulance transported him to Grady Hospital, where he remained for two days.

Rosskopf says he cracked nine ribs in the back, eight on one side, and one on the other. His neck and head were uninjured; he was wearing a helmet, but he suffered lacerations and bruises near his left eye.

Patch identified a deep pothole on Clarendon in the lane going into Avondale Estates near a bridge that Rosskopf says is most likely the hole that caused his crash.

Rosskopf said he'd like anyone in the local cycling community whether or not they've wrecked because of the hole.

"My concern is that road surface is a pretty bad stretch and has been for awhile," said Rosskopf. "It’s well-used bike route from Stone Mountain."

Rosskopf says he will also check whether the handlebars were defective.

Will Rosskopf sue?

"If the city has had notice of that pothole and hasn’t fixed it, I would ask the city to compensate me for injuries," said Rosskopf, who added that he doesn't know whether the city or DeKalb County is responsible for maintaining the road.

Investigator Tom Gillis says he doesn't recall any reports of bicycle crashes on Clarendon.

"I cannot remember an accident there," Gillis said. "Remember a year ago, there was a crash at the corner, but I can’t remember any we’ve had right at that location. If they were reported to us, we would have known that."

Cyclist Mark Mandelbaum emailed Bike Decatur, a cycling group, that he crashed at the same pothole last month as he was returning from a bike ride to Tucker.

"I was riding in a group back, and the rider in front of me swerved to avoid it at the last moment," Mandelbaum wrote. "Luckily, it was only a bent rim and flat.

"But it would be good for cyclists to know the local websites to inform the city and county of major hazards to bicyclists," Mandelbaum wrote.

Gillis said that "the biggest problem we incur is for motor vehicles to give the same respect to cyclists" as they give motorists.

Cyclists "are allowed legally to ride two abreast, and have the same responsibility to obey traffic regulations," Gillis said.

Avondale Estates officers have ticketed cyclists for running red lights at major intersections, Gillis said.

In DeKalb County, the number to report potholes is 770-414-6199.

gttim September 19, 2011 at 01:52 PM
Long time cyclist here. Rough roads are tough, but riding into a pothole while cycling alone on a straight road? That is pilot error. And not real smart. If you are on the aero bars, you still need to keep your head up looking forward.
Tori September 19, 2011 at 06:39 PM
Hi i was rideing my fixe a few months ago in Dekalb county, Dekalb County Police pull me over and arrest me for Conseald Weapon charge. (Which was a brass knuckle belt buckl) Not a gun a knife. I was not useing the brass knuckles and just keep them because my friend got jumped for his bike a few months ago on memorial dr. Iv put in for my consealed weapons license last october, i have no Phelonys but it still hasent came through..I honestly think this is redicklous...Can you help me Ken?
Diane Loupe September 19, 2011 at 07:42 PM
Tori, you'll have to contact Ken directly.
Julia Ewen September 20, 2011 at 08:16 PM
The intersection of Clarendon and N Avondale between the former Triology and the former print shop is chronically deeply ridged with huge "ripples" that I think are at least as hazzardous to bikers as any pothole. I don't bike, but as a motorist I worry a lot about a biker spilling onto the pavement direcly in front of me! When I inquired of a council member how to get it fixed, I was told that the county had a schedule for making road repairs and it might take a couple of years for them to get around to it. I remarked at the time that it made more sense to cough up a small amount of money now and fix problems immediately than to wait two years for a possible multi-million dollar negligence suit to build a fire under the county's complacent beurocracy. Hazzards that can fell bikers can also cause sprained and broken ankles and falls with head injuries for pedestrians. We need to do a better job for all our citizens' sakes. That said, I'm not sympathetic to the "fast, confident" bikers who eschew the bike path because it has slow bikers and pedestrians on it. People who live in glass houses ought not to pitch stones! I agree we all need to be courteous toward bikers seems the bikers are intolerant of sharing a safe bike roadway with "slower traffic". And any vehicle, whether two-wheeled, four-wheeled or more wheeled must yield to
Julia Ewen September 20, 2011 at 08:22 PM
slower traffic, and pedestrians always have the right of way on any roadway! Fun is an attitude that one chooses. One can have fun and still share with slower traffic and walkers; an attitude adjustment is needed. I voted for the bike paths even though I'm not a biker, hoping that you would have a safer, happier and yes, fun ride. I'm sad that you're not having more fun on my dime. Hope you'll choose a change of attitude.


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