8316Cyclists are a force in Chicago. With their ranks swelling every day, even drivers who never ride cannot help but take notice of the number of bicyclists that use Chicago’s streets, pathways, and intersections. Whether they are commuting to work, riding for pleasure, or trying to squeeze in a little exercise, cyclists can be on any street at any time in Illinois regardless of the weather or season.

Bicyclists face many of the same risks that drivers face when it comes to traveling in the Chicago area. There is the possibility that someone will fail to yield to a bicyclist, causing an accident, or that a driver will run a red light. But in addition to the risks cyclists have in common with cars are some bicycle-specific risks that can lead to an incident and can even cause a rider to become injured and in need of medical treatment.

One type of common bicycle accident faced by riders is often referred to as a right hook crash. This type of accident is dangerous and often unavoidable for a rider – though completely avoidable by a driver who causes the crash.

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8816(2)You just finished your Sunday morning shopping, the parking lot is jam-packed, and after navigating the store that was as equally crowded you are more than ready to get home and finally relax. You carefully back out of your parking space, noticing at the very last second that someone with a grocery cart has suddenly appeared right behind your car. Luckily, you hit the brakes in time and no one is hurt. You are finally on your way out of the parking lot madness when THUD…someone backing out of their space rammed right into the side of your car. The passenger door is seriously dented, your mirror is gone, but you and the other driver are okay.

This scenario plays out in parking lots across Chicago every day and in most cases the damage is minimal and injuries are rare.

In parking lot accidents, the traffic lane (with vehicles that are not parked and driving through the aisles) has the right of the way. Thus if a person was backing out of a parking space when a collision occurred, the driver backing out will most likely be held liable.

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8316Chicago is one of the most bike friendly cities in America with over 200 miles of dedicated bike lanes and with the beautiful Lakefront Trail, cyclists are able to find a little slice of paradise amidst the busy city.

The city’s bicycle sharing system – Divvy – has helped to further develop Chicago’s reputation as a cyclist friendly location. I’m sure you’ve seen the baby blue bikes zooming across streets or neatly parked around kiosks. People may rent Divvy bicycles at locations from Anderson to Hyde Park and everywhere in between, and there are plans to extend the ride sharing system into the suburbs.

Many residents take advantage of the Divvy system using the bikes to commute to work without the hassle of having to find somewhere to safely store their own bicycle. Tourists are also big fans of Divvy. Many visitors rent bikes to explore the city, as the rental price for 24 hours is less than the price of a 10-minute cab ride. Although Divvy presents a great travel option for visitors, things can become very dangerous when those unfamiliar with the Chicago area begin riding through the busy streets.

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By now, thousands of tourists and many native to Chicago are prepping for the start of Lollapalooza, the major music festival that takes place in Grant Park every year. Unlike many of the prior iterations of Lollapalooza, the festivities will begin tonight at 7:00 p.m., stretching the festival over the four day period from Thursday through Sunday. Lollapalooza boasts eight separate music stages and more than 170 music bands during the course of the festival that is expected to entertain hundreds of thousands. In fact, in three days last year, total attendance reached more than 300,000 with approximately 100,000 in attendance daily.

A recent article in the Chicago Tribune noted that area hospitals treated 88 intoxicated teenagers during a three-day Lollapalooza in 2015. That was a decrease from 2014 but still almost nine times as high as an average weekend in Chicago, indicating that emergency rooms in the city may be overrun at times during the festival this year.

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29216Every year, the number of traffic accidents and the resulting injuries and fatalities are closely monitored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation. NHTSA describes its mission as to save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce vehicle-related crashes. This is an incredibly important task as car accidents continue to be a leading cause of death among Americans of all ages, leading to the loss of tens of thousands of lives annually and causing pain and suffering to hundreds of thousands.

As part of its mission, NHTSA monitors numerous factors that go into and stem from traffic crashes each year and a review of their preliminary data from 2015 shows an increase in the total number of fatalities by 7.7 percent over 2014 numbers.

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71116(2)There are so many aspects that factor into train safety that it can be difficult for an average passenger or a Chicago driver to understand train incidents fully. While trains in Illinois serve a vital purpose, they also present a very real risk of causing or being involved in an accident, potentially altering countless lives and leading to devastation that affects an entire community. So when things go wrong with a train, who is to blame?

It all depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding a particular train accident. Fault can lie with any individual involved in a collision and will be based upon the laws of Illinois, including who had the right-of-way and whether anyone acted in a negligent or reckless manner.

The victims of these train incidents should know that they have legal rights which may enable them to recover for the totality of the harm they suffer including any medical expenses incurred, lost wages experienced, and pain and suffering endured. However, to be able to recover financially, victims must act affirmatively to protect their rights within a time period specified by law or they will be barred from acting forever. Working with a personal injury attorney can help victims receive the amount of compensation they deserve and can ensure that someone is on the victim’s side, fighting for his or her rights.

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29216The results of a new study indicate that drivers who make less money are paying substantially more for the same insurance as drivers who earn more, despite having identical driving records.

The study is based on a collection of data covering hypothetical drivers in 15 cities. Five major insurers were included in the study to give the data a more representative result, including Allstate, Farmers, Geico, Progressive, and State Farm. Researchers used a hypothetical married man and a woman who both were employed in white collar professions, both maintained auto insurance in the prior six months, and owned their cars. In comparison, researchers also sought quotes for a single man and single female who worked blue collar jobs, had not previously owned a car for six months or had automobile insurance, and rented their homes.

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61616There is nothing easy about working as a bicycle messenger in the City of Chicago. Cyclists spend their days hurriedly riding from one location to another, picking up goods and dropping them off at different offices in and around the Loop. These workers are expected to ride in extreme heat, extreme cold, rain, wind, and sleet. Some are expected to ride in the snow. And factors like traffic, pedestrian presence near the roadways, and the limited bicycle parking around the city are not supposed to be an issue for them.

So why do bicycle messengers even exist, and who would voluntarily take a job as a bike courier? The purpose of bike messengers is simple: to transport items a short distance in a cost-effective manner. Companies do not need to worry about paying their bike messengers for gas or parking fees. Each bike does not need to carry individual insurance. And bikes can move about Chicago in a much more time efficient manner than cars. Those who agree to work as bike messengers tend to enjoy riding a bicycle for pleasure. They like to be outdoors, tend to be young, and are overwhelmingly male.

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6716(2)Pedestrian safety matters to everyone in Chicago because everyone is a pedestrian at some point in time. Most people who frequent the downtown area walk quite a lot. They may walk the streets to get to lunch or simply walk from a parking spot to their office. Others walk from an L station or a bus stop to their jobs or they may walk to Union Station or Ogilvie to head home in the evenings. Even hailing a cab or an Uber ride may require a small amount of walking.

If you ride a skateboard, coast on some in-line skates, use a walker or a wheelchair, push a stroller (or ride in one for that matter), or simply use your feet to get around, you are classified as a pedestrian in Illinois.

Though everyone should be aware of pedestrian safety issues and should act in a manner that limits the number of pedestrian accidents that happen every year, recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) reveals that not enough is being done to keep our walkers safe. Far too many are losing their lives or becoming seriously injured in traffic collisions and the harm that is caused by these events extends to victims’ family members, friends, loved ones, and coworkers.

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53016These days, people in Chicago have numerous reasons for choosing to ride a bicycle around the city. Some opt for two-wheeled transportation because traffic and parking are so horrendous throughout downtown that cycling can save them a lot of headaches. Others realize that owning and insuring a car in the metro area is very costly and may not be worth the price if you only need to travel short distances. And yet others still see the benefits of cycling on the environment or on their physical health and opt to ride for those reasons.

The reasons behind why an individual rides a bicycle in Illinois do not matter. What matters is that these individuals are legally authorized to ride in the roadways except where expressly prohibited and by doing so, riders are protected by the rights and laws that apply to all forms of traffic.

Yet despite the legal status of cyclists here, far too many motorists ignore the rights of these bicyclists and instead act in a manner that poses a threat to public safety.

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