Though summer time in Chicago is over, there is still plenty of time for Chicagoans to get out onto their bikes and enjoy the good weather the city has to offer. In an urban setting as big as Chicago, it should come as no surprise that many people commute via their bikes all over the city.
In fact, 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. In 2019, that number has grown even higher. The research reveals two things: first, biking to work is much more common inside big metropolitan areas like Chicago; and second, of those who bike to work, those in the age groups of 16–24 and 25–44 are more likely to do it.
In addition to those who commute to work, a walk along the lake or even in the fast-paced world of Chicago’s loop will show a dense population of people leisurely riding their bikes. Biking in Chicago is quick, cheap, and easily accessible with over a dozen Divvy stations in Chicago. But bike commuters and cycling pleasure-seekers alike should remember that bicycling is not without its risks and Chicago bike accident dangers are all too common.
In 2014, the Chicago Tribune reported that Illinois ranked in the top five of states with the highest rates of bicyclist fatalities. The Tribune quoted Allan Williams, former chief scientist for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, who explained that Illinois is a “high population [state] with many urban centers and likely reflect a high level of bicycle exposure and interaction with motor vehicles.”
Despite having over one hundred miles of dedicated bike lanes, it is still risky to ride in Chicago amongst agitated or rushed drivers in a congested downtown scenario. Motor vehicles do not even need to be running or moving in order to cause harm to bicyclists. An example of one of the most common Chicago bike accident dangers is “dooring.” 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 and sustain injuries. This is especially dangerous because cyclists can ride at a modest speed and are very exposed.
The Municipal Code of Chicago, which provides protection for cyclists in the city, clearly 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. 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 stop hundreds of dooring incidents occurring every year.
Although Chicago has a specific bicycle-dooring law and imposes fines on those who violate the law, dooring is something that every cyclist worries about when they are commuting in Chicago. A simple solution that will almost always prevent a Chicago bike accident is using what is called the “Dutch Reach.” The Dutch Reach is when a driver or passenger of a stopped motor vehicle uses their right hand to open the door. This act will force the individual to turn their upper body so that they are reminded to look and check for oncoming cyclists.
Use your RIGHT hand to open the car door, which forces you to turn your upper body to look behind for oncoming cyclists. Then look out to mirror and back over shoulder. Slowly only the door to exit facing traffic.
The Dutch Reach, which was signed into law as a part of the House Bill 5143, is now a part of the Illinois driver’s license test. Illinois and Chicago’s attempt to deter violators through financial fines and by incorporating safety and preventive measures into the laws show how seriously they are in undertaking to make the roads safer for bicyclists.
It is important to remember that while bicyclists should be following traffic law in Chicago, there is an imposed duty by law on motor vehicle drivers to operate their vehicle with care for pedestrians and cyclists. If you were injured in a bike accident due to a motor vehicle, do not hesitate to reach out to us at the Kryder Law Group by phone at (312)223-1700, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through the interactive chat client on our website for a free and confidential consultation.
The facts that are specific and unique to your situation will determine whether you are entitled to compensation under the law and whether you can recover monetary damages for your cycling accident. It is important to contact our office soon because under Illinois law, there is a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit against the negligent party. We know injuries are incredibly stressful, so please read the positive Google reviews and our client testimonials and see how we’ve helped countless others handle similar injuries.