In Chicago, there is a growing trend for people to choose bike riding as an alternative form of transportation to the use of vehicles. As gas prices increase, commuters are finding the low cost of using bicycles much more attractive than the use of cars for getting around the city. In addition to saving money on gasoline, commuters also enjoy excellent health benefits when they choose bike riding to travel to work.
Unfortunately, bike riding in Chicago continues to be a risky and dangerous activity for commuters for numerous reasons. There are still Chicago bike fatalities that occur every year. Over one thousand people suffer from Chicago bicycle injuries every year. Despite the existence of biking regulations in the city, there are many car drivers who do not respect the space of bike riders in side lanes. Some bike riders also pose a danger to other riders and drivers on the road due to distracted bike riding that involves listening to music.
The statistics also reveal that bike riding continues to be a risky activity in the city. Throughout the years, there has been a slight decrease in the number of bike injuries and deaths resulting from crashes with vehicles in Chicago. In 2009, there were 1,402 bike injuries and six deaths resulting from crashes. In 2010, this figure slightly increased to 1,583 bike injuries and five deaths resulting from crashes. In 2011, there were over 1,300 bike injuries and seven deaths that resulted from bike crashes with cars in Chicago.
Bike riders can also be involved in other types of serious accidents in Chicago. One type of accident is called “dooring,” and this occurs when a car door opens and hits an approaching bike rider. A passenger may not see that a bike rider is approaching behind the vehicle, and he or she may unwittingly open the door and hit the bike rider. Bike riders may also be at risk for hitting pedestrians who are talking on the phone or text messaging on a smart phone. These pedestrians may not be paying attention as they walk into intersections and fail to move in a timely manner as a bike rider approaches.
Recently Implemented Biking Regulations in Chicago
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has taken measures to protect bike riders in Chicago. In May of 2013, Mayor Rahm Emanuel enacted the 2013 Bicycle Safety Ordinance to the City Council. This Ordinance would fine car drivers for $500 to $1,000 for dooring bicyclists. Bicyclists who break traffic laws are also now required to pay a fee of $50 to $200 for each traffic law infraction. This amount is an increase from the previous $25 that cyclists were required to pay for each traffic law infraction. In 2013, there were over 250 dooring crashes in Chicago. A dooring crash occurs when a vehicle leaves a door open in traffic, and a bike rider crashes into the door. The new Ordinance now requires car owners to pay an increased fee of $300 for each dooring violation. In particular, taxi cab drivers need to be aware of the new biking regulations and pay attention to the safety of bike riders on the road.
The Need for Better Safety Measures in the Future
In the future, there will be a continued need for law enforcement to monitor the implementation of the recent biking regulations in Chicago. If the biking regulations are not enforced, then it is likely that taxi drivers and other car drivers will not seriously consider the safety of bike riders on the road. If a bike rider is involved in an accident and finds that a regulation is not being enforced, then a bike accident lawyer may be available to help with his or her case. Bike accident lawyers are also available to help cyclists recover compensation for the injuries that they have suffered in dooring and other types of bike accidents.