Articles Posted in Bicycle Accident

Chicago Cyclists and the Laws of the RoadMany bicyclists in the community fail to obey certain traffic laws. These cyclists just continue riding past stop signs, failing to come to a complete stop or will roll through red lights as though there are no oncoming vehicles. While they may appear to be violating the law, the cyclists may be in the right to do so. This is not to say that abandoning common sense is a good idea. But, research is showing that it might be a little safer for bikers to view red lights as stop signs and stop signs as yield signs. Why you ask?

In 1982, Idaho became the first state to permit cyclists the flexibility they need in handling traffic at intersections, which is why this behavior is referred to as an “Idaho stop.” The rule the state put forward is simple. A bicyclist approaching a stop sign can simply slow down at the intersection to look for traffic. The cyclist must only give up their right-of-way if any passenger vehicle, truck, pedestrian or other bicyclist is present or approaching. If no traffic is present, the bicyclist can proceed slowly using the stop sign to yield instead of stop.

Bicyclists in Idaho can handle red lights similarly but need to come to a complete stop before proceeding. If another bicyclist, pedestrian, motorcycle, passenger car, truck or other vehicle is present or approaching, they are given the right-of-way instead. If no traffic is present, the cyclists can cautiously move ahead into the intersection. This change in the law allows the cyclist to view a red light is a stop sign.

Protected Bike Lanes in South LoopThe construction of new bike lanes and barriers in the South Loop is set to begin in 2017 and the project is meant to reduce the number of bicycle and pedestrian accidents in the area. As Chicago continues to present itself as a bike friendly city, a recent string of bicycle related fatalities and injuries has sparked concern over how well the city has adapted to the needs of the cyclists it is trying to attract. Members of the community are hopeful that this project will address these concerns and make the streets safer and easier to travel for bicyclists and motorists alike.

Plan Met With Enthusiasm at August Meeting

Residents were invited to a meeting over the matter of bike safety on August 23rd, where the proposal to increase the number of bike lanes, bike traffic signals and barriers was presented. A supermajority agreed with the plan and residents became excited over its implementation, believing that it was long overdue and needed to ensure the safety of motorists, bike riders and pedestrians alike. The details of the plan include the following.

Chicagoland Bicycle DangersWhile Chicago tries to present itself as a bicycle friendly city, an epidemic of accidents has presented a dark, dangerous and deadly shadow upon those efforts. Six deaths this year and numerous other accidents have made this a record year in regards to fatalities and injuries. It is reasonable to assume that the uptick in bicycle accidents may be influenced in part by the flood of new bicycles into the area, but many of the accidents reported in recent history are symptoms of far more serious concerns. The Chicago bicycle accident attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC believe these incidents reflect inadequate measures put in place to protect cyclists and disregard on part of motorists for their safety.

A List of Incidents Both Long and Alarming

September has been a horrible month for Chicago area bicyclists, with the number of fatalities occurring in the month equaling the total for all of last year. The accidents involving bicyclists include the following incidents.

Chicago Bike Share ProgramSince the launch of the Chicago Bike Share Program two years ago, getting around Chicagoland has never been easier. The city’s Divvy bike program has made it a simple process for residents and visitors to avoid delays of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) during busy times of the day.

However, many of the city and suburban residents have yet to embrace the concept of renting a bicycle at more than reasonable prices for a short ride through congested areas of town. This is likely because of the video that aired with the story of a 24-year-old who was seriously injured after being struck by a vehicle while riding a Divvy bike on Lake Shore Drive in the fall of 2015. The medical student suffered brain trauma.

Since its inception, the Divvy program has reported more than 3.2 million completed rides. Statistics from the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) are even more impressive knowing that only 18 accidents involving Divvy have occurred in all that time. The limited number of collisions seems a bit surprising to motorist riding behind cyclists traveling down Lake Shore Drive and Dan Ryan Expressway during heavily congested times of the day.

Cyclist and Snow Make a Dangerous CombinationWinter weather can be treacherous for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians alike, but the inability of the City of Chicago to clear bicycle lanes consistently following snowfall forces bicyclists to share lanes with traffic. The Chicago bike accident attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC feel that bicyclists are exposed to enough risk already during the winter and that the city should be held responsible when its failure to provide safe lanes to bicyclists results in accidents and severe injuries. Over the last year, those riding their bicycles in the winter months have been unable to anticipate whether they will have access to cleared lanes after each snow storm.

Snow Removal is Inconsistent at Best throughout the City of Chicago

Some bike lanes throughout the city have seen more attention than others. Following snowfall over Thanksgiving, for example, it took over two days for city crews to remove snow from the protected bike lanes located throughout the West Side. It took over a week for bike lanes to be cleared following the snowfall occurring at the end of the year and some bike lanes still remain blocked. In some areas, motorists were still clearing their cars in order to gain access to the roads while others had no clearance up to eight feet from the curb.

Chicago and Bike LanesIn October 2015, the Active Transportation Alliance (ATA) announced its longer-term goals and five-year vision for maximizing the network of trails and bike lanes throughout Chicago. The bike advocacy group is strongly proposing the addition of 50 more miles of bike lanes within the next four years through the installation of additional buffered, protected bike routes, neighborhood greenways and urban trails.

The ATA report titled “Bikeways for All” proposes installing “low stress bike routes” primarily defined as bike lanes that physically protect the cyclist for motorized traffic on Chicago’s busiest streets. The alliance hopes that the installation of the new protected bike lanes provides a similar experience to bicycle riding on many of the community’s off-street trails. The additional bike lanes would be designed to eliminate the fear that many bicyclists have of riding in heavy traffic.

Mayor’s Office Commits to Bike Lane Construction

Illinois Bike Accidents 2015The cooler temperatures of autumn and the arrival of falling leaves and seasonal beautiful foliage tends to bring more bicyclists to the Chicago’s roads during daylight hours. Unfortunately, the late morning and early evening hours tend to be darker at this time of year that diminishes the safety of cycling on busy urban streets and long stretches of rural roads. The additional glare from sunshine shorter days, deer rutting and cold tires increase the potential of bicycles becoming involved in serious accidents with injuries or death. The bicycle accident round up for fall of 2015 involve serious accidents including:

Lincoln Park Neighborhood Bike Accident

The initial release of information of an October 2015 Lincoln Park neighborhood bicycle accident indicated that a female bicyclist was killed after being struck by a truck in a noon hour incident occurring at the intersection of Lincoln Ave., Halsted Street and Fullerton Parkway. However, the Chicago Police Department news affairs office released an erroneous notification. Further clarification indicated that the bicyclist was “up and talking” after the collision and did not actually succumbed to her injuries at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center. However, law enforcement issued a citation to the truck driver at the accident scene.

Door Zone and How Doors Can Hurt BicyclistsBicyclists rarely receive the respect that they deserve from motorists and are often placed in precarious positions by the very laws meant to protect them and keep them out of the way of traffic. The Chicago bicycle accident attorneys of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC frequently come across accidents that occur due to the failure of drivers to check for oncoming cyclists before opening their doors into the cyclists’ paths. Running into a car door can result in serious injuries and bicyclists involved in dooring accidents must often go through long and painful recoveries following their accidents. This is a shame when considering that these incidents can often be avoided.

The Door Zone and How it Affects Bicyclists

Plainly put, the door zone is the area where every bicyclist is at the greatest risk of being involved in a dooring collision, and this zone is unavoidable in many cases due to the laws and rules imposed on bicyclists to keep them out of the path of the cars and trucks that they must share the road with. While cyclists are given the same rights as motorists on the road, this often comes with a caveat. They are limited to the far right side of the road or bicycle lanes that take them directly into the path of an opening door.

Accessible Bike HelmetsLack of helmet use has a clear link to serious injuries to the head, neck and spine resulting from bicycle accidents and the City of Chicago could follow other cities’ leads by rolling out a helmet distribution program to accompany the Divvy bike sharing service that allows people looking for healthy alternatives to travel to pick up a bike from one of many locations spread throughout Chicago and to return it later that day. The helmets would be distributed via machines that would allow bicyclists to obtain a helmet for a rental fee and to return it later into another receptacle so that it can be properly cleaned and sanitized. If successful, the hope is that more bicyclists riding in the city will use helmets, reducing the number of serious injuries that occur in accidents.

Varying Degrees of Success Elsewhere

Chicago will not be the first city to attempt the feat of encouraging bicyclists to wear helmets. Boston and Seattle have both rolled out their own programs and seen varied levels of success. In Boston machines similar to the ones Chicago is planning to use were placed throughout its Hubway system— the equivalent of Chicago’s Divvy service. The machines failed to encourage enough cyclists to obtain helmets and the machines were later removed. Boston still offers helmets to Hubway users but they must now purchase them at the time they buy a membership.

How to get the Safest Bicycle HelmetFew individuals would elect to drive a motor vehicle or ride as a passenger without wearing a safety belt. However, many adults and children ride bikes without a helmet. Hopping on a bicycle without wearing a safety helmet can cause significant life-altering problems if you are involved in a collision, crash or spill.

Wearing the safest bicycle helmet will not only increase your chances of saving your life, but also prevent or reduce the severity of an injury to your head when involved in a crash. However, to be its most effective, you must wear the helmet faithfully to reduce the risks of head injuries when taking a spill on a bike trail or city street.

Bicycle Helmets: Designed for Safety, Not Looks

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