Abels & Annes

Articles Posted in Bicycle Accident

61616Riding a bicycle in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois can be a fantastic experience. You can move about town with relative ease, travel without worrying about parking costs or the soaring price of gasoline, and you can even enjoy the scenery while you ride. When you consider the added benefits of the physical exertion you get riding a bike, the cost savings by avoiding an expensive insurance payment for your car, and even the price break you get avoiding costs and routine maintenance on a vehicle, the only question may be why more people are not riding.

However, every year, a greater number of adults and children alike take to Chicago’s roadways to cycle for one reason or another. As this culture grows, the daily interactions between cyclists and motorists increase as well. Most of these encounters are innocent and proceed as they should. A number, however, turn far darker when a bicycle accident happens or when a traffic incident causes one or more people involved to be hurt.

When questioned after a crash, many drivers report that they were unsure of what a cyclist was going to do or where she was heading, leading the driver to make an inappropriate call regarding her own conduct that caused the impact. Experts agree that understanding and using hand signals at the right time can go a long way to eliminating these incidents caused by miscommunication.

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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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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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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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5316In 2014, the Governors Highway Safety Administration concluded that Illinois had the fifth highest rate of bicycle fatalities between 2010 and 2012. During that three year period, Illinois recorded 80 deaths in bicycle accidents across the state, and a large number of them happened in the greater Chicago area.

Whether you ride a bicycle or not, it is important to realize that bicycle safety affects your daily life. If you take a bus, a train, drive a car, or simply walk, you will cross paths with bicyclists at some point as a non-rider and you may be involved in a crash with a cyclist. If you happen to ride, you are already aware of the many threats that present themselves along a typical Chicago route and you have been the unfortunate victim of collision-related injuries.

But why do Illinois and Chicago see so many bicycle crashes, and what can be done to stem or even prevent these incidents from occurring?

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823152.jpgCollisions between cars and pedestrians or bicyclists are a problem in every city in Illinois. While crashes are possible anywhere, the greater the level of traffic, the more likely a collision to result. Chicago typically has issues with these crashes every year as do many of the suburban communities whether you go north, west, or south.

Recently, Naperville has taken several steps to increase the safety of cyclists and pedestrians within its borders by lowering common risks that may lead to collisions. And so far, data shows that these steps are paying off as both pedestrian crashes and bicycle accidents are becoming less frequent, causing fewer injuries and leading to less devastating financial consequences.
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629152.jpgThe rights of bicyclists are clearly defined by the laws of the State of Illinois, yet every day, those rights continue to be threatened and they continue to be ignored. In some cases, one cyclists ignores the rights of another. In other instances, it is the operator of a car or other vehicle that fails to recognize a biker’s right to ride. Regardless of the perpetrator, any incident of threatening conduct increases the danger faced by everyone and raises the risk of a bicycle accident occurring.

In 2013, there were 3,624 bicycle accidents across the State of Illinois and 3,353 of those incidents resulted in injuries. Another 30 proved to be fatal. These staggering numbers show that the odds of injury or death happening when a cyclist is involved in a crash are extremely high, especially when compared to auto accidents that fail to produce injuries in roughly half of crashes.
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12153.jpgRegardless of where they occur, bicycle accidents can have tragic and devastating results. A person riding on a bicycle is at a high risk for injuries when a crash happens because there little to nothing between that biker’s body and another surface, whether that is concrete, asphalt, or the hood of a car. Cyclist regularly need medical attention following these accidents because injuries are so common and many times, bikers deal with cuts, abrasions, broken bones, impalements, road rash, and injuries to their head and back. While these may be common, they are far from the only damages that can result when a cyclist is injured.

Unfortunately, the frontman for the popular band U2 learned this in November and is still suffering from the consequences today. Bono, known for his rose-tinted glasses, musical acumen, and philanthropic efforts, was riding a bicycle in New York City’s Central Park in November when he attempted to avoid another bicyclist, causing a high energy bike accident. Emergency medical personnel responded and transported the singer to New York-Presbyterian Medical Center where he was evaluated for his injuries and assessed by several physicians. Doctors noted serious fracturing of Bono’s left upper arm, left shoulder blade, and eye orbit as well as abrasion and other damages and Bono received immediate surgery to repair his fractures and stabilize him, the most serious issue being his shattered arm. That injury alone reportedly required the insertion of three metal plates and 18 screws to stabilize and to return some function to Bono’s arm and hand. An additional fracture to Bono’s left pinky finger was repaired after the first round of surgeries and is complicating Bono’s rehabilitative efforts.

While doctors were able to repair his fractures and bandage his wounds, it now appears clear that the damaging injuries may have a lasting effect. Now, according to Bono, the singer may have permanent damage in his arm that may prevent him from playing the guitar ever again.

Bono released a blog statement on his band’s website recently informing his fans that the recovery he has faced has been difficult and that he fears his injuries may permanently affect his ability to play guitar. While Bono does not play often while performing with U2, the frontman does use a guitar in writing music and in playing for fun.

Injuries like those sustained by Bono unfortunately are common when people are involved in bicycle accidents in Chicago and across Illinois. Fractures or broken bones, head and neck injuries, contusions, abrasions, and internal bleeding are some of the injuries likely to result when a rider is involved in a crash, whether that crash involves another cyclist or even a car.

When a car strikes a bicycle, the rider of the bike is almost always injured and often left in need of medical assistance. This can be costly for a victim who did nothing wrong and who suffers due to the actions of a driver, but fortunately, the laws in Chicago are on victims’ sides. Those who have been hurt in a bicycle accident in Illinois may be entitled to seek financial compensation for the injuries they incurred as well as other damages experienced due to a crash, including but not limited to lost wages, pain and suffering, and the permanency of injuries.
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1620.jpgThe face of bicycling has changed dramatically in the last decade. According to a study conducted byte he Gluskin Townley Group, ridership among children decreased 20 percent between 2000 and 2010 but the number of adult riders during that same time period increased across the county. This illustrates what many drivers may have already noticed: cycling is not only for children any more. In Chicago, bicycling is increasing annually as more people take to the roads to ride to work and around the town, favoring a bicycle over a personal car, a taxi cab, a bus, or a train. In response, the City of Chicago has enacted several safety features to keep these riders safe, from shared bicycle lanes to bicycle paths to protected bicycle lanes that serve only cyclist.

While the city has taken steps to increase safety, bicycle accidents continue to occur every year and continue to leave riders and others injured, and in the worst cases, killed. In fact, the Governors Highway Safety Association recently determined that Illinois had the 5th most bicycle-related deaths in the country based on data between 2010 and 2012.

The study, Spotlight on Highway Safety: Bicycle Safety, revealed other shocking statistics, including the fact that the number of bicycle fatalities increase 16 percent in Illinois between 2010 and 2012 with a total of 80 deaths. This put Illinois fifth in the total number of fatalities behind California, Florida, Texas, and New York. Nationally, the number of deaths caused by cycling in urban areas has increased from 50 percent in 1975 to 69 percent in 2012.

The increase in urban fatalities supports that the trend witnessed in Chicago is happening everywhere: a greater number of adult riders are taking to bicycles, regardless of where they live or what they do for a living. While riding a bike is great exercise and can be an efficient and cost-effective means of transportation, bicycle accidents continue to occur and cause serious injuries in those involved in the crash.

The laws across the country vary from state to state so it is important to know your rights if you have been involved in a bicycle accident. In Chicago and across Illinois, victims have the right to seek financial compensation for their damages, whether those damages are in the form of medical bills, rehabilitative expenses, lost wages from time missed from work, or pain and suffering. A personal injury lawyer can help you understand your options if you have been involved in a crash, including whether you have one or more valid claims for your losses.
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