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Chicago Bike Commuter Accident Attorneys

Commuters Motorists and bicyclists must obey traffic laws to avoid accidents, but it's not always easy for bikers to be seen by drivers.

Bike lanes can help, but they aren't available on every street in Chicago. Riders need protection from cars that pull out of side streets or drive into crosswalks without looking for cyclists or pedestrians.

Are you or a loved one the victim of a bike commuting accident? Are you seeking financial compensation for your damages? At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are legal advocates for injured victims harmed by another's negligence.

Call the Chicago bike accident attorneys at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for legal advice and schedule a free consultation. All sensitive or confidential information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.

Creating a Safe Bike Commuting Environment

The City of Chicago, like other cities across the United States, has worked hard and invested heavily in promoting bicycle commuting, and its efforts are paying off.

Over the last eight years since the Bike 2015 Plan was started in 2006, a conscious and targeted effort has been made to increase Chicago bicycle commuting and bicycle riding in general and decrease car and bike accidents.

According to the United States Census numbers, from just 2011 to 2012, the amount of Chicago residents that commute by bike to work increased by almost 14%, showing that the investment in promoting this healthy and environmentally friendly transportation has made a difference.

If you or a loved one was injured while riding your bike to work in the Chicago area, contact our office for a free consultation and bicycle crash case review. The Chicago bicycle accident lawyers in our law offices are committed to holding negligent drivers fully accountable when their negligence results in a crash and severe subsequent injury (as well as medical expenses) to cyclists on their way to work.

As with all of our bike accident cases, our personal injury lawyers represent injured bike commuters in bicycle crash cases on a contingency fee basis. There is never a legal fee charged unless there is a financial recovery for you.

Our bicycle accident attorneys are the best legal advocates for bicycle riders when they are injured in a hit-and-run accident at a right of way, stop sign, crosswalk, or anywhere else in Cook County.

As a result, our law firm can get the financial compensation they deserve for their medical bills, lost income, property damage, and pain.

Chicago Bicycle Accident Statistics Involving Bicycle Commuters

According to bicycle accident statistics, between 2009 and 2017, more than 100 cyclists died in accidents involving automobiles. This figure only includes confirmed fatalities; many others are suspected but unconfirmed. The average age of bicyclists who lost their lives was 28 years old, and the overwhelming majority (95%) were males.

The percentage of Chicago bike commuter injuries is even higher because not all crashes resulting in an injury are reported to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). City officials and bicycle accident attorneys alike suspect IDOT data does not reflect all fatalities and injuries.

For example, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) did not use automated traffic enforcement cameras during 2010-2011. Data collected from hospitals did show bicycle accidents increased during this period, but no one could say for sure if the cameras prevented accidents or reduced injury severity.

In 2016 alone, CPD-issued tickets to motorists responsible for striking bicycles totaled more than 16,000 – a steep increase from previous years.

Making Chicago a Bike-Friendly City for Commuters

The Bike 2015 Plan was just part of an ongoing project to promote bicycle commuting in Chicago and biking in general. However, this plan's goals greatly increased safety for bicycle commuters and increased overall awareness.

Some of the basics of the 2015 plan included the following:

  • To increase the percentage of trips under 5 miles in the city to at least 5% on a bicycle
  • Reduce the number of bicycle injuries by 50% especially broken bones
  • Increase bicycle lanes and bike parking
  • Provide education on the benefits of bicycle riding

This initial plan, along with the subsequent Chicago Streets for Cycling 2020, has had an impact. There has been more awareness and advocacy for bicycle commuting and riding and some major changes to the City of Chicago to make room for more bicyclists on the streets.

Recent Improvements to Promote Chicago Bicycle Commuting and Prevent Bike Accidents

There have already been extreme changes made in Chicago to promote bicycle commuting. These are both physical and administrative, with changes to the streets and the laws governing cycling.

Some of the most notable changes that have had an impact include these:

  • Bike lanes: So far, over 200 miles of bicycle lanes are installed on Chicago streets, with a goal of over 645 miles by 2022
  • Bike racks: More than 13,000 bike racks are now available throughout the city
  • Divvy: The new Divvy program added in 2013 gave the convenience of 400 bike share or rental stations with over 4,000 available bikes for commuting
  • Dooring laws: It became illegal to open a door into traffic while in a parked car, protecting bicyclists from dangerous dooring accidents

It is an accumulation of all these investments in advocacies for cycling and the actual physical investments that are helping increase the number of commuters in the city.

With almost 20,000 residents in Chicago commuting the largest portion of the distance to work on bicycles in 2012, it seems to be a worthy investment. That is a potential of 20,000 fewer vehicles clogging up the roadways every day and reducing pollution and waste of natural resources.

Many may not have believed Chicago's lofty bicycle plan would be as successful as it has proven to be. However, with more improvements still planned, it will be interesting to see how many Chicagoans are leaving their cars at home and straddling their bikes to get to work in the next few years.

However, with more cyclists crowding the streets, it is becoming more important to ensure their safety and the other commuters on the roads. In addition, with so many bicycle accidents taking place, it may be time to review how these crashes occur and what can be done to prevent them.

The Most Dangerous Risk Factors for Bicyclists

National data reveals that bicyclists are most likely to suffer severe injuries or death in car accidents involving bicycles. These collisions can occur at intersections, street intersections, and driveways. All these

The most common factors that contribute to bicycle crashes:

  • Cars turning left or right into the path of a bicyclist who is going straight or passing on the right
  • Failure to yield the right-of-way by either party will frequently cause a collision
  • Vehicles overtaking bicycles, usually at night when they are harder to make out in the darkness

Large vehicles like trucks and buses sharing the road with smaller bikes can create dangerous blind spots for drivers. Bicyclists in these accidents are often killed off by large vehicle mirrors hitting them or being crushed under truck wheels.

Cars pulling out of or backing up from side streets are also a large cause of accidents. With almost half of fatal bicycle crashes among cyclists under the age of 16 occurring in driveways, it is important to ensure greater safety awareness when exiting these sites.

How to Reduce Chicago Bicycle Crashes

Following some simple guidelines can go a long way towards making biking safer.

  • Share the Road: Since bicyclists and drivers share the road, both need to understand the other's perspective and needs. For example, bikers should ride to the right of traffic and not in bicycle lanes when they don't exist, not to obstruct motorists' views of street signs and traffic lights in front of them. Drivers should remember that bicyclists and their bikes take up much less space, so being patient is key in avoiding accidents when bikers may have to swerve slightly to avoid hazards.
  • Establish clear traffic expectations: For both parties to be on the same page, all road users must understand how they are expected to behave. It means bicyclists must follow the rules of the road. Drivers must appreciate that bikers may need to ride in the middle of a lane when passing or turning right.
  • Check for oncoming traffic before opening your car door: These kinds of accidents can be prevented by checking both ways before exiting a vehicle, whether parked on the side of the road or in a designated lot.
  • Remember that cyclists have the right to be on the road: Both parties need to remember that bicycles are vehicles, and bicyclists have a right to expect safe passage along any Chicago street.

It may not always be easy for a cyclist to avoid an accident with a motor vehicle, but following these and other safety tips can make a big difference.

The Increase in Bicycle Accidents and How They Occur

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), bicycle accidents have steadily increased over the last ten years. There has been a 40% rise in the number of bicycle accident fatalities from 2004 to 2014.

Regarding what is causing these increased numbers, one thing that stands out regarding Chicago-area bicycle accidents is their tendency to occur during inclement weather and especially during winter months.

While most of these accidents (about 2/3) occur between May and October, it is crucial to be aware that almost half of all deaths resulting from bicycle crashes in Illinois happen during the winter months of December through February.

It may be somewhat surprising that even with steady increases in fatalities and injuries, the number one cause of fatal bicycle accidents is still not wearing a helmet.

It may be even more surprising that the second leading cause was motorists failing to yield at intersections, especially bicycle lanes. According to the Chicago Department of Transportation, most bicycle-motorist accidents occur nationally during the day and at intersections.

The following are some of the other leading causes of fatal accidents:

The most common types of bicycle accidents are:

  • Bicycle commuters being struck by vehicles at intersections
  • Vehicles turning right on red without stopping or yield percentage to bikes
  • Lane splitting, which is when cyclists maneuver between lanes of stopped or moving cars
  • Dooring incidents involving bicycle crashes where a cyclist hits an opened car door
  • Road hazards such as potholes, cracks, uneven pavement, debris, sewer grates, and open storm drain

It is often difficult to pinpoint what happened because many accidents involve multiple factors with bicycle accidents or crashes. Fortunately, most fatal crashes are caused by a few things that can be avoided, including speeding, alcohol impairment, and distracted driving.

What Needs to Be Done to Help Reduce the Number of Bicycle Accidents?

While a lot has been done to make roads and intersections safer, more can be done. During President Obama's administration, he made improvements for bicycling and walking by allocating $5 million for bicycle and pedestrian safety with funds from the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP).

With bicycling and walking accounting for about 12% of all trips in the United States, improving it is becoming even more important. In addition, when people choose not to drive or ride in a car, especially when they are commuting to work, we need to ensure their safety.

While there has been a great deal of awareness and education about bicycle safety, there is still more to be done. Everyone must take the responsibility to ensure bicyclists' safety as well as other commuters on the road. It may mean slowing down and paying attention, and giving cyclists plenty of room when passing them.

Reducing Chicago Bike Commuter Accidents Using Dedicated Bike Lanes

Recent data shows that dedicated bike lanes have significantly reduced the number of accidents.

The City of Chicago has implemented its Streets for Cycling Plan 2020 to try and create safer roads and intersections that provide greater connectivity throughout the entire city, using a network of bike lanes and trails.

One such area is The Loop Link. With the implementation of dedicated bike paths and raised cycling tracks, bicycle commuters are given their own space to ride.

Studies show that there has been a 36% reduction in the number of cyclists injured on the Loop Link lane after the implementation of The Loop Link, which can hopefully be used as an example for future projects.

Other notable initiatives are constructing protected bike lanes, shared lane markings, and regulatory changes to allow cyclists to pass stopped cars on the left.

The Causes of Chicago Bicycle Accidents

Based on the 2009 Illinois Crash Report, the top two causes of bicycle crashes were failure to yield and inattention.

It is good news for the bicycle commuters of Chicago since it shows that their biggest threats are easily preventable with more attention to the roads and following the rules of sharing them with other vehicles.

The lack of helmet use leading to fatal crashes can probably be attributed to many cyclists not wanting to wear one for various reasons, most often because they are uncomfortable or unattractive.

While most fatal crashes have cyclists that are not wearing helmets, there is one thing that can be stated with certainty:

  • Helmet use would make a considerable difference in the number of fatalities and injuries resulting from bicycle crashes

One of the primary reasons why Chicago-area residents do not wear helmets is the ongoing debate of whether helmets effectively prevent head injuries.

Motor Vehicle Accidents With Bicyclists in Chicago

Motorists still crash into people bicycling around Cook County and elsewhere in Illinois at alarming rates despite best efforts. It causes serious personal injuries as well as substantial medical bills.

Here are some of the most common culprits of bicycle crashes:

If you have been involved in a similar bicycling accident, talk to one of our Chicago bicycle accident attorneys at our law firm to hear about what you can get from the motorist or insurance company.

Are You an Injured Bicycle Commuter? Talk to Our Chicago Bicycle Accident Attorneys

Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC appreciates the dangers bicycle commuters in the Chicagoland area face daily as they share streets with drivers unfamiliar with the traffic layout or ignore their legal obligations to cyclists sharing the road.

Our office remains committed to bicycle safety in Chicago and regularly sponsors local bicycle events. If you need legal representation following a bike accident, contact our office for a free case evaluation. We are here to serve you.

Our law firm currently represents injured bicyclists throughout Illinois, including Cook County, Kane County, DuPage County, Lake County, Peoria County, Will County, Sangamon County, Winnebago County, and others.

Chicago Bike Commuter Accidents Resources:

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