A little more than a year after Cramer & Anderson Partner David P. Burke died as the result of a cycling accident near Bantam Lake, the law firm is donating bicycle safety road signs to Connecticut municipalities that had significance for Burke.
Reflective yellow signs saying “3 feet – it’s the law” are being given in memory of Burke to New Milford, home to the firm’s flagship office, Danbury, where Burke helped establish the Cramer & Anderson office, Redding, where he lived with his wife, June Anne, and Litchfield, where the firm has an office and home to Bantam Lake and Route 209, where the cycling accident occurred. Each town is to receive 10 signs.
In an April 24 meeting, the New Milford Town Council unanimously accepted the signs, which remind drivers that Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-232(a) requires drivers to respect the rights of cyclists to use public roads and grant them a “safe distance” when passing.
“For the purposes of this subsection, ‘safe distance’ means not less than three feet when the driver of a vehicle overtakes and passes a person riding a bicycle,” reads the Connecticut law, whose bicycle passing requirements were enacted in 2008.
At the meeting Cramer & Anderson Partner John D. Tower displayed one of the signs, along with a photograph of Attorney Burke riding on part of the Tour de France route with his daughter Victoria, a world-class rower. Attorney Tower and Partner D. Randall DiBella, who also attended, serve as Town Attorneys for New Milford.
“David was a terrific person, an excellent attorney, a devoted father and bicyclist, and a close friend of ours, and we think this is suitable way to remember and honor him,” Attorney Tower wrote in an email to New Milford Mayor David Gronbach concerning the donation of signs.
New Milford Town Engineer Daniel Stanton is now working with the town’s Bike & Trails Committee to determine where the cycling safety signs should be placed.
Cramer & Anderson hopes to offer the donation of signs to Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and the City Council in June, and is also reaching out to officials in Redding and Litchfield.
Burke died March 15, 2016, at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury as the result of injuries he sustained in the cycling accident that happened on the morning of March 12 on Route 209 (Bantam Lake Road) in Morris, near the Litchfield town line.
A news story in the Republican-American of Waterbury said the front tire of Burke’s bicycle hit a pothole and he was propelled into a guardrail. Burke, who was wearing a helmet, was flown to Saint Mary’s Hospital by Life Star helicopter.
“He just was a phenomenal person, and an incredibly talented lawyer,” Cramer & Anderson Partner William C. Franklin said of Burke in a tribute on the Cramer & Anderson website.
“He very passionately represented his clients,” Franklin said. “A lot of lawyers try to get ‘just’ results. David was always troubled by the gap between what was judicially appropriate and what was fair. He always tried to bridge that gap. He’d say, ‘Can you think of a way to get a better outcome here?’”
A passion for achieving optimal outcomes in every aspect of life was Burke’s trademark, according to his colleagues, who recalled his passion not only for cycling but also for skiing, sailing, photography, woodworking, gourmet French cooking and the French language.
“Everything he did, he was all in—everything from bicycling to skiing, to cooking and photography,” said Attorney Dan Casagrande, a Partner who worked with Burke in the Danbury office, which Burke is credited with initiating and nourishing as a means of establishing a foothold in northern Fairfield County.
Burke was among many Cramer & Anderson attorneys and staff who share a passion for cycling.
The firm participated in the Greater Danbury Ride of Silence last May as a tribute to Burke, and will participate again this year in the May 17 ride. The local ride is sponsored by the group Bicycle Advocacy of Greater Danbury, and the larger Ride of Silence movement, which honors cyclists killed or injured by motorists, has an international presence.
Attorney DiBella recently wrote a piece about cycling safety on Connecticut roads, and Cramer & Anderson Partner Dolores R. Schiesel addressed the issue in August 2016 after a car passed within a foot of her while she was cycling.
“ … no driver should overtake the bicyclist when there is a vehicle in the other lane,” Attorney Schiesel wrote. “A car passed me on a road with no shoulder as a dump truck was in the oncoming lane. I believe the car was less than a foot from me.”
Thanks to the planned donations of 40 cycling safety signs to four western Connecticut communities that offer cyclists beautiful scenery and a wealth of winding country routes, drivers will be reminded that respecting cyclists’ right to enjoy public roads without danger or fear is not just the right thing to do—it’s the law.
David Burke would have appreciated that “way to get a better outcome.”
Cramer & Anderson has offices in New Milford, Danbury, Litchfield, Kent, and Washington Depot. For more information, see the website at www.crameranderson.com or call the New Milford office at (860) 355-2631.