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.

Jimmie Moomaw September 16, 2011 at 11:04 AM
Would some cyclist explain why they continue to ride on Clarendon running parallel to the PATH Foundation Bike Path instead of on the 19 mile path that was constructed so they didn't have to ride on the road where they continue blocking traffic and creating hazards within sight of the safer path.
Diane Loupe September 16, 2011 at 12:25 PM
Hi, Jimmie. Lots of cyclists ride on the PATH route, but sometimes that isn't going to where they want. Plus, when people are walking on the path, it's difficult to ride around them. Many cyclists don't think the path is safer. Now, you explain to me all the downright crazy and dangerous stuff that cars do, on behalf of motorists everywhere.
David Williams September 16, 2011 at 02:13 PM
Most cyclists consider the path to be unsafe. Pedestrians, Children, dogs all present problems on a shared path. Street and driveway crossings also present problems. I was nearly hit by a truck pulling out of a driveway on the path. This likely wouldn't have happened on the street. The rules requiring bicycle to use a bike path only apply to a dedicated bike path, not a shared path such as this one.
jerry lipsky September 16, 2011 at 02:39 PM
As every driver knows, more accidents occur at intersections than any place else. Now, picture yourself on a bicycle riding on a Path. Every driveway becomes an intersection where no drivers are looking for anything moving more than 2-3 mph. Then add the landscaping that helps hide the approaches to these 'intersections'. Bicycles become almost invisible. The path in question around Avondale has blind intersections with real streets every block between Church St and Clarendon, right at the bridge where the accident occurred. I'll stay on the streets where, although it might inconvenience a driver by a few seconds while (s)he waits to pass me, I'm highly visible.
C B September 16, 2011 at 02:54 PM
I will be glad to answer your question Jimmie. I ride on Clarendon rather than the PATH for two reasons. 1. IMO it is safer for me when I can ride at 20+ mph on the road. The trail makes it unsafe to travel at these speeds when driveways, uneven surfaces, walkers, slower bike riders, and debris clutter the trail. 2. Legally I can ride in the road. I am a confident and predictable rider who follows the rules of the road. I know how to maintain my line. I know how to check over my shoulder for cars without swerving (losing my line). I do not ride ahead of cars that are stopped at a stop light/sign. I give appropriate signals to alert those around me of my intentions to turn, slow down, go around pot holes, etc. The only time I use the trail is when I am with an inexperienced slower rider who is not confident in traffic. Think of it as sharing the road with someone's mom, daughter, father, son, grandchild, aunt, uncle, friend..........we are not there to just get in your way. Oh and please give us 3 feet and it is a lot safer when drivers do the speed limit. Also, I do not recommend passing on a double line in curves and when other cars are going to meet you head on. There is also no reason to gun it around me to get to the stop sign/red light first so you can slam on brakes. Overall, everyone (cyclists and motorists) need to work on being more patient and respectful towards each other. I know I do my best to be respectful and thoughtful of others.
Kevin Snedden September 16, 2011 at 08:42 PM
Rumor is that a white plastic turtle with a tiny shovel was seen in the area. Seriously Ken, I hope you feel better soon.
Julie Feely September 17, 2011 at 12:59 AM
On a related topic: many in Avondale Estates would love to see a bike shop in the space recently vacated by Trilogy at the corner of N Clarendon and N Avondale. Excellent traffic counts and visibility, plus great windows for displaying bikes, etc. And, for the developers: why not include a velodrome as a key part of the redevelopment of the Fenner Dunlop property? Proximity to the PATH, hospital, MARTA, etc. The East Point/ Dick Lane velodrome is not convenient and a newer facility would be a great draw. Check it out: http://www.dicklanevelodrome.com/
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.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »