Chicago 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.
It is important for visitors and residents alike to always keep safety in mind when cycling as Illinois is among the top states for bicyclist fatalities. A study conducted in 2012 reported 80 cyclist fatalities between 2010 and 2012, reporting a 16% increase from 2010. In recent years Chicago has worked incredibly hard to make bike lanes safer through barrier protections as well as focusing resources on bike safety campaigns.
Even with these improvements cyclists should always exercise extreme caution when sharing the road with motor vehicles and always be on the lookout for potential dooring incidents. Dooring occurs when a motor vehicle driver or passenger opens the vehicle’s door without checking for cyclists causing the cyclist to collide with the door. If this occurs on a busy road the results can be tragic, as the impact can throw the cyclist into oncoming traffic. Dooring accidents can cause serious damage to the cyclist and the bicycle, and unfortunately they are very common in big cities like Chicago. Tourists are especially susceptible to dooring because of their unfamiliarity with traffic patterns and parking lanes.
It is the duty of both drivers and passengers to make sure it is clear before opening a vehicle door. It is also the law. If someone opens a vehicle door without exercising ordinary care (checking their surroundings or looking in the bike lane) and hits a cyclist with the door, that person may be held legally liable for the cyclist’s injuries and any damage done to their bicycle. If a taxicab passenger causes a dooring accident in some cases the driver can be held liable as well. Thus, if you have been a victim of a dooring accident the fault does not fall on you as a cyclist.
Hopefully you and loved ones are able to enjoy Chicago’s many trails without a bicycle accident like many cyclists do daily. Chicago is a beautiful city and one that is readily available for riding; in fact, our congested streets, overly full parking garages, and high cost of gasoline may make riding a bike an ideal way to explore and travel around downtown. It only works as long as cyclists and motorists alike respect the rights of one another and act in a manner that puts safety for all at the forefront of their actions.
Prior Blog Entry:
Accidents, Injuries Anticipated as Lollapalooza Arrives in Chicago, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, published July 28, 2016.
How It Works, Divvy.
Illinois fifth in nation for bicycle deaths, by Dana Ferguson, Chicago Tribune, published October 27, 2014.