In the News: Chicago Department of Transportation Truck Strikes Bicyclist and Raises Questions About Biker Safety in Chicago
On June 23, 2020, a Chicago Department of Transportation (“CDOT”) truck struck and critically injured a 31 year-old female cyclist in Avondale. The accident occurred at the intersection of Belmont and Milwaukee Avenue. The truck was traveling northwest on Milwaukee and turned right onto eastbound Belmont. The bicyclist was traveling the same route. While both executed a right turn, the truck struck and dragged the bicyclist. The truck driver reportedly stated the bicyclist was in a blind spot. However, an eyewitness stated the truck driver was not paying attention. Chicago police are investigating the accident and the bicyclist was in serious condition. Fortunately, the truck was equipped side guards as well as convex mirrors. However, the area of the accident did not have bike lanes. The accident highlights a growing concern as more commuters turn to bikes for transportation. In fact, the CDOT overseas bike safety in the city and this incident certainly highlights the need for continued bike safety measures as well as awareness.
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Why should we expect the numbers of bikers and accidents in Chicago to increase?
It is likely that the number of bicyclists on the road in Chicago will dramatically increase. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many people would routinely use public transportation like METRA and CTA trains, or PACE and CTA buses. These forms of transportation are convenient and widely used. However, they can be cramped and during rush hour you literally may be packed shoulder to shoulder or face to face with other commuters. It is virtually impossible to social distance. With Illinois gradually takes steps to open its economy many commuters may not return to public transportation. Commuters may not feel safe traveling in crowded trains or buses. Instead, many commuters may consider biking.
In 2014, the United States Census Bureau released a report that the number of people who travel to work by bike increased roughly sixty percent over the last decade. Before COVID-19, this was a trend that seemed likely to continue. Now, biking to work feels like a much safer option to many people. Biking allows you to maintain distancing recommendations whereas public transportation may not. Additionally, the arrival of summer makes biking much more practical for many city and suburban commuters. However, people should consider that they may be trading one type of risk for another.
What safety measures exist in Chicago to protect bicyclists?
The Chicago Tribune reported that Illinois had one of the highest rates of bicyclist fatalities. However, since that time, Chicago has taken numerous measures to improve biker safety. Chicago has added more dedicated bike lanes. In fact, Chicago now has over 248 miles of protected, buffered, conventional, dashed, marked shared and neighborhood bike routes. In addition, the Chicago Streets for Cycling Plan of 2020 call for a 645 mile continuous network of street bike lanes. In 2017, the City passed an ordinance requiring trucks doing business through a city contract worth $2 million or more have side guards installed to prevent pedestrians or bikers from going under the wheels. In addition, certain trucks are required to have convex mirrors to improve vision. Also, the Municipal Code of Chicago, states that every operator of a motor vehicle must “exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or any person operating a bicycle.” Section 9-40-160.
Even with dedicated lanes and laws to protect bicyclists, fatal or serious accidents still frequently occur. The dedicated bike lanes often run next to the parking lane. The close proximity of parked cars and designated bike lanes creates the perfect environment for “dooring” accidents. Dooring is exactly what you think it is: when a parked car abruptly opens its doors into the bike lane and causes the cyclist to hit the open door. Many of these injuries are very serious because the rider strikes the door at a significant speed or after the impact the bike rider strikes the pavement with significant force. Lacerations, abrasions, concussions and broken bones are all very common injuries.
The door code states that “no person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic.” Section 9-80-035. Despite the requirement codified in law, this does not stop hundreds of dooring incidents from occurring every year.
What should I do if I am involved in a biking accident?
Following an accident the police should be called immediately. The responding police officer will complete a crash report that will provide necessary information including the identity of the driver involved as well as the driver’s auto insurance. All injuries should be reported to the responding officer and an ambulance should be requested if necessary. It is important to take photographs or videos of any injuries, property damage, the scene of the accident and the position of the vehicle involved. Record and retain witness information immediately. All evidence obtained at the scene of the occurrence is crucial in determining liability
It is critical to hire an attorney immediately to begin a detailed investigation into all causes of the accident. In many instances, The Kryder Law Group, will interview witnesses, photograph the scene of the accident, identify potential video that may have captured the accident and deploy experts to investigate the circumstances surrounding a collision.
Call the personal injury attorneys at The Kryder Law Group to discuss your case, legal rights and options. The Kryder Law Group has experienced lawyers with the resources to handle your case. The attorneys at The Kryder Law Group have the experience and knowledge to successfully litigate your case and maximize your recovery. If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, please contact the lawyers at The Kryder Law Group to discuss your legal rights at (312) 223-1700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Chicago Bike Safety Resources
If you are one of the many people biking to work this summer here are resources to help you take steps to make your commute safe.
- Review the map of Chicago’s bike network
- Read the Chicago Streets for Cycling Plan
Bicyclist Safety Tips
- Always wear a helmet
- Wear reflective gear
- Use multiple lights when riding at dusk or night
- Do not crown the parking lane
- Constantly monitor your surroundings for hazards