Though fall may be here, the warm weather this week in Chicago and across Illinois means that many bicyclists may be enjoying some last-minute rides before the winter comes. But if you have lived in the Chicago area for any length of time, you know that some brave riders take to their bicycles year-round, even in the midst of winter. Until recently, bicycling has been dominated by those who owned private bikes in Chicago.
Yet the introduction of Divvy, a city-wide bicycle rental service, has helped change the landscape of transportation in Chicago as well as the makeup of the typical Chicago bike rider. Now, tourists, non-residents, and causal riders are taking to the streets in greater numbers. Divvy enables those who want to use a bicycle for a limited period of time the option to ride in Chicago without the obligation, expense, and upkeep of owning a personal bike. Subscriptions are available to Divvy to enable anything from a one-way ride to a unlimited yearly pass so that cyclists of all levels and of all types can benefit from the program.
Divvy is still relatively new in the Chicago area and the resulting effects are not all known at this time, but experts unanimously agree that when a large number of bicycles and a large number of cars share the same space, collisions are likely to occur unless all riders and motorists act with due care and caution. In Illinois, including Chicago, bicyclists are authorized to ride in the streets much like any vehicle is legally allowed to drive, yet despite numerous protections under the laws, drivers continue to ignore these riders with alarming regularity. Every year, numerous bicycle accidents occur and leave cyclists injured or, in the worst instances, dead as a result. While these crashes cannot be erased, the victims of these crashes may be entitled to legal relief through the use of a civil claim for damages. Speaking with a personal injury lawyer may help you understand whether you have a valid claim, and if so, who may be legally responsible for the injuries you sustained if you have been involved in a bicycle collision.
Now, the Divvy rental platform is getting the green light to expand into Oak Park and Evanston next summer. Due in part to a $3 million state grant, 20 new self-serve stations will take root in those two cities and will enable riders in the north and west to choose rentals when they please. Part of the grant also covers expansion of Divvy programs within Chicago including the funding of 50 new Chicago-area stations.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been an advocate for making Chicago more bicycle-friendly and has initiated programs to improve the safety of riders as a result. Advances have included increased bicycle lanes along city streets, the creation of protected bicycle areas along some heavily traveled routes, and bicycle-specific traffic lights to control riders while making sure that motorists get the right-of-way when intended.