Abels & Annes

Local blogger highlights the dangers of Chicago bicycle accidents on the lakefront trail

In light of the Department of Transportation Commissioner’s pronouncement in the Chicago Journal that he wants to make the city one of the most bike-friendly in the nation, a local blogger has requested he take a hard look at what he calls one of the most dangerous places for bicycle accidents in the city – the lakefront trail.

The Urban Cyclist, as he is known on his blog of the same name, said he was shocked to learn that the city’s $45 million Navy Pier Flyover plan would actually constrict the bike path at certain points, even though it is in desperate need of expansion. As a daily bicycle commuter, he has escaped serious injury in accidents with cars, cabs, and other cyclists, but an inattentive jogger on the lakefront trail left him with permanent scars on his hands.

He says the trail is basically an overcrowded highway for non-engine vehicles. Cyclists and bladers are intermingled with dog-walkers, their unpredictable pets, grandparents mindlessly walking grandkids, and various other outdoor enthusiasts who have no other option but to crowd together on the congested path.

The blogger measured the trail at 6 feet for each lane, with the new plan calling for 5 foot lanes in each direction with a 3 foot shoulder on both sides. While this is technically more space, he says the unpaved shoulder is unusable for cyclists and joggers rarely use them. He predicts the traffic and dangers will actually increase.

While he admittedly has no statistics to back up his claims, as Chicago does not keep statistics on bike-bike or bike-pedestrian accidents, he invites everyone to take a ride with him down the trail and tell him otherwise. He worries that with the Mayor and the head of CDOT aiming to make Chicago one of the bike-friendliest cities in the nation (read the story as reported by CBS news here), the increased traffic may make biking in the city even more dangerous than it currently is.

While Illinois bike crash lawyers at our office agree that the lakefront trail presents its share of hazards, inattentive drivers are still the greatest danger to cyclists in this city. Injuries to bicyclists when involved in collisions with motor vehicles often result in catastrophic injuries, and sometimes death.

The Chicago Tribune reports that drivers frequently veer into designated lanes, turn in front of cyclists, and open their doors in the path of bikers, also known as “dooring.” According to an NHTSA study, 630 cyclists were killed in traffic accidents and another 51,000 were injured nationwide in 2009, with 70% of the fatalities occurring in urban areas like Chicago. 20 of those fatalities occurred in Illinois alone. The study cites a number of things drivers can do to avoid injuring cyclists, including:

• Allowing at least 3 feet of clearance when passing a biker on the road • Look for cyclists before opening your car door or pulling out of a parking spot • Yield to cyclists at intersections and as directed by signs and markers • Be especially careful to look for cyclists before making turns
• Pay attention
Cyclists have the same rights as motorists when traveling on public roads, and drivers need to make an effort to learn the rules of the road and how to properly implement cyclist awareness into their ever day driving habits.

If you have been injured in an Illinois cycling accident due to a negligent driver, please contact a Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer for a free consultation. Call (866) 99-ABELS now.