Bicycle Dooring Accidents In Chicago Up 50%

A report from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) stated that there were 300 dooring accidents (when a bicycle crashes into an open car door) in 2015. This was a 50% increase from 2014. There were 203 in 2014 and 270 in 2013 but down from the 334 reported in 2012 and 336 in 2011. IDOT first started collecting this data in 2011. The data also showed that there was a 3% total increase bicycle accidents from 2014 to 2015.

The question remains why there was such a sharp increase in dooring accidents in 2015. The safety advocate group, Active Transportation Alliance, told media outlets that it is unclear whether the increase is merely due to stepped up enforcement and more vigilant reporting by those involved. Regardless, the group also believes that 300 plus dooring accidents per year is unacceptably high.

It must be pointed out that drivers who negligently open their door in front of a bicyclist is punishable under local Chicago ordinance § 9-80-035, which carries a fine of $300.00.

So what can drivers and bicyclists do to avoid these accidents and what can the city do to lower this trend? First, I think the city should at least consider increasing the fine for the offense as a preventative measure. Second, drivers, when parked on busy city streets need take the extra precaution of looking at their side mirrors before opening their doors. Chicago drivers need to accept the fact that Chicago is one of the busiest and most prolific cities for bicyclists in the world and should learn to share the roads, even when parked. And finally, bicyclists must understand how dangerous it is to bike around a crowded city like Chicago and must constantly remain vigilant about their surroundings.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago bike accident or Chicago traffic accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

 

$12 Million Donation To Fund Separate Bike and Pedestrian Paths On Chicago’s Lake Front

For once, some encouraging news came out recently from the City of Chicago. At the end of the year the city was announced the local hedge fund manager Ken Griffin, through urging from mayor Rahm Emanuel, will donate $12 million to the city to construct separated bicycle and pedestrian pathways on Chicago congested lakefront. The mayor’s office said in a statement the gift will help stretch the mayor’s earlier plan for creating the double paths on the North and South sides, between Fullerton and Ohio streets and 31st and 51st streets, along the whole lakefront. The work is already partially done and will be completed by 2018.

This is incredible news to thousand who bike and run up and down the pathway during Chicago’s warmer months. Anyone, who has spent time on the lakefront on a busy day can attest to how crowded it can be, and at times very dangerous. You can read here about a particularly nasty collision that took place in 2014.  As I have written in the past on this blog, there have been some dangerous collisions between bicyclists and runners on the lakefront. This new plan should hopefully provide enough space for everyone to safely enjoy that part of the city.

Interestingly though, the Chicago Tribune published an article last week that correctly points out that certain sections of construction plan may not be so easy. Specifically at areas like Belmont Harbor and Oak Street Beach, which are already very narrow stretches of pathway. It is something engineer and architects will have to study, and unfortunately may eat up some green space.

Regardless, as someone who frequents the lakefront path and someone who represents bicycle accident and pedestrian accident victims, I am incredibly encouraged by this news. I am also thankful to the generous donor. I think this will make the lakefront safer and more enjoyable for everyone.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago bicycle accident or Chicago traffic accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Chicago Announces Launch Of “Vision Zero” Aimed To Eliminate Traffic Deaths

The Chicago Mayor’s office announced last month that it is launching “Vision Zero” action plan with the goal of eliminating all traffic deaths by 2026. In a press release may Rahm Emanuel state, ““Every day someone is injured or worse as the result of a car crash on Chicago’s streets… these crashes are preventable, and that is why we are stepping up our efforts, developing partnerships with communities and private industry. We are going to use all the resources at our disposal to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries in Chicago.”

All of the details of this new safety program will be released later this Fall, but the press release stated that the plan will look at traffic safety as a public health issue and identify priorities for the City’s engineering and education initiatives, as well as enforcement support for reducing crashes. City departments are currently working with stakeholders and the public to develop the final goals and strategies included in the plan. In 2016, more than 100 intersections will receive additional infrastructure to make it safer for people walking to cross the street. Among these is a Safe Routes to School project on the West Side that has installed 10 pedestrian refuge islands along Madison Street and Chicago Avenue. There are 10 schools located within a half-mile of these high crash areas. The City is also enhancing safety by making traffic signal improvements, resurfacing hundreds of miles of streets, installing speed feedback signs, and adding or improving 25 miles of bike lanes this year.

The city is treating this as a public health issue, as they should. Chicago has seen six bicycle traffic fatalities this year. That number equals the total number of bicycle traffic deaths from last year with three months still yet to go in 2016. Chicago is at a crossroads right now with bicycle safety. Chicago was recently named the top bicycle friendly city in country by Bicycling Magazine. We have more bicycle commuters than ever along with Divvy bike riders crowding our roads. This is a good thing. So are all of the dedicated bike lanes. But bicycle traffic accidents and fatalities are still prevalent. Bicyclers and motorists need to learn to co-exist. We need to be mindful of each other and always observe the rules of the road. “Vision Zero” is the perfect stepping stone to help lead to a better co-existence between bicyclists and motorists. I will be writing more about the initiative once the full plan is announced.

If you or one of you loved ones has been seriously injured in a Chicago bicycle accident or Chicago car crash, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Loop Link Bus Lines Launch In Downtown Chicago

The Chicago Tribune (among other outlets) reported last month that the Chicago Transit Authority (“CTA”) finally launched the long awaited loop link bus lines. Loop link are bus only dedicated lanes that run through Madison, Washington, Clinton and Canal Streets. The bus only lanes were designed and constructed to increase the speed of bus traffic in the loop, while also making streets safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.

I have seen the construction of these lanes from start to finish, and it has been a huge relief for those that work or live in the loop that the construction is finally completed. One of the touches that the construction includes is a dedicated bicycle lane located adjacent to the bus lanes closest to the curb. Although it doesn’t appear so in the first month of use, the purpose of the loop link is to decrease congestion for everyone: drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians. Also, it’s important to point out that the bus lanes are separated from the normal lanes with raised concrete curbs, which prevent normal vehicles from driving through and using those lanes. You can click here to view a photo of one of the completed bus stop stations from the Chicago Street Blog.

To me this is a huge improvement for the CTA and downtown Chicago. For one, the lanes and stops are aesthetically pleasing. Now, the real question is whether they will help with traffic congestion downtown. It will take more than a month to know exactly understand the effectiveness of loop link and whether car accidents and bicycle accidents will decrease. Regardless, it is a step in the right direction.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Chicago car crash or Chicago bicycle accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

New Bicycle Lanes Are Under Construction On Chicago’s Clybourn Ave

 

Multiple news outlets, including the Chicago Tribune, reported last month that the city began construction on a new stretch of dedicated bicycle lanes along Clybourn Avenue. The lanes will stretch from North Avenue to Division Street and from Division to Orleans. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) hopes the project will be completed by early August.

This is a welcome addition to Chicago bicycle enthusiasts as the number of bike commuters continues to grow. The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) estimated recently that 38% of all morning commuters are bicyclists.

I think a tip of the hat needs to go to Mayor Emanuel and his staff as they continue to expand and promote bicycling in Chicago. The mayor vowed when he took office that Chicago would continue to grow and become one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the world. Part of this vow has been his commitment to safety. By adding these dedicated bicycle lanes allows a separate and (hopefully) safe space for bicyclists. Drivers must honor that space and stay in their own lane. Although I haven’t seen any statistics on bicycle accidents recently, I believe the city is safer and healthier with all of these new bike lanes. There are now fewer vehicles on the road during rush hour commutes (which is good for everyone) and bicyclists can safely commute to their jobs knowing they have their own dedicated lane. I look forward to see where the mayor continues to expand these lanes.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago bike accident or Chicago traffic accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation.

Jaguar’s New Technology Aimed At Protecting Bicyclists

Autoweek.com published an article last month discussing Jaguar’s new “bike sense” technology, which is aimed at protecting bicyclists and Jaguar drivers from being involved in traffic accidents.

Bike Sense system uses sensors on the car to detect approaching bicycles and motorcycles, and alert the driver with sights and sounds that the driver instinctively associates with those two types of vehicles. So if a bicycle is approaching from the rear right side of the car, the audio system in the car will generate a bicycle bell sound from one of the speakers inside the cabin, in same direction as the approaching bicycle. The system will also be able to monitor the speed of approaching bicycles and motorcycles, and the top of the driver’s seat will extend to tap the driver on the right or left shoulder.

In addition to warning the driver by sound and by touch, Bike Sense will also use a matrix of LED light built into the window sills, the dash, and windscreen pillars, with lights glowing amber and switching to red as a bicycle approaches.  Bike Sense will also be able to detect pedestrians crossing the road in front of a moving car who are obscured by other objects.

This technology is still in testing stages but could be installed in Jaguar vehicles by the end of the decade. This is incredible technology in my mind. It is especially relevant in big cities such as Chicago that are bicycle friendly. There are always safety concerns for pedestrians and bicyclists in Chicago and Mayor Emanuel has done a solid job of promoting safety initiatives such has safer crosswalks with stop signs and designated bike lanes. Technology like “Bike Sense,” if developed by other car makers, could make a huge difference in the safety for both pedestrians and bicyclists in big cities like Chicago.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago bicycle accident or Chicago auto pedestrian accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation.

Bicycling Magazine Ranks Chicago No. 2 Among Most Bicycle Friendly Cities

According to Bicycling Magazine, Chicago now ranks as the second best city in the United States for bicyclists. Chicago was previously ranked number 5 in 2012 and number 10 in 2010.

The magazine cited the city’s Navy Pier Flyover construction project, the recent hike in fines for dooring cyclists, and the plans for new protected bike lanes as a few of the reasons Chicago rose in the rankings. It also applauded the city for helping Chicagoans “re-discover” cycling.  Although the magazine did not cite the rise in bike sharing, credit must be given to the city for its’ partnership with the company Divvy. Divvy bikes are available throughout the city for short term rentals, which has definitely increased the interest in bicycling in Chicago.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been taking a lot of heat for various issues such as the red light and speeder cameras, but credit must given for following through on his bicycling initiatives. He has made it a point to make the life for bicyclists much safer and has made bicycling much more accessible for everyone.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago bicycle accident or Chicago traffic accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

 

Chicago Officials Announce First Barrier Protected Bike Lane

The fantastic Chicago website DNAinfo.com reported this week that Chicago transportation officials have begun plans for the first concrete barrier protected bicycle lane. The lane will be constructed on a stretch of Clybourn in the Old Town neighborhood. “This would be the first use of concrete physical separation,” said Nathan Roseberry, a senior engineer with the Illinois Department of Transportation. “We are going to be using this project as a means to study elements of the design to see how they work, see how they can be improved.”

The first proposal would include barrier-protected lanes on both sides of the street from Halsted Street to Division Street.

A second proposal, presented as an alternative, would include barrier-protected lanes from Halsted to Larrabee, and then a striped bike lane from Larrabee to Division. That option would preserve parking spaces, but would get rid of the physical separation between cyclists and vehicle traffic.

Both options would take Clybourn down to one lane of traffic at all times and result in a loss of parking along the street.

This is continued progress for Mayor Emanuel and his quest to make Chicago the most bicycle friendly city in North America. The positive development for me is that this should prevent potential violent traffic accidents between bikes and automobiles. The isolated  bike lane will protect bicyclists from vehicle collisions and dooring accidents. I will be interested to see if the city plans on adding additional barriers to bike lanes in other parts of the city, including downtown.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a Chicago bike accident or Chicago car accident, then call Chicago personal injury, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.

Chicago Mayor Proposes Fine Hikes For Reckless Cyclists And Dooring Accidents

According to a report from the Huffington Post and WGN
News
 this week, Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, has proposed several fine
hikes for bicyclists who disobey traffic laws and also against motorists who
commit a dooring accident (these are accidents where a driver opens their door
on a road causing a collision with a bicyclist).

Currently, bikers caught disobeying
traffic laws face a $25 fine for all offenses. Under Emanuel’s proposed
ordinance, that fine would be increased to an amount ranging from $50 to $200,
“depending on the severity of the violation.”

Drivers would face harsher penalties
for reckless driving as well. Under the proposal, WGN reports the fine for
motorists who “door” a cyclist — hitting bikers with a car door while entering or exiting a vehicle —
would see their fines double from $150 to $300.

According to WBEZ
(NPR News), 
there were 577 reported doorings in Chicago from 2009 through September
7, 2012. 
City and transportation
officials had previously noted many bicycle doorings still go unreported.

There is no doubt
that the roads in Chicago can be dangerous for both bicyclists and motorists
and that for each most co-exist together. Both motorists and bicyclists are, at
times, guilty of negligent behavior and they must be accountable, especially
when a vehicle collision occurs. Hopefully, if these measures will provide the
impetus for both cyclists and motorists to obey the rules of the road, as they
will no longer be facing just a slap on the wrist (i.e. a $25 fine).

If you or someone
you know has been seriously injured in a Chicago bicycle accident or a Chicagodooring accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney Aaron Bryant for a
free legal consultation at 312-588-3384. 

Illinois Bicycle Group Seeks Exposure & Stiffer Penalty For Dooring Accidents

As I have discussed here in the past, the Illinois legislature has done a fair amount to protect bicyclists. Specifically, last year Governor Quinn signed into law a statute that empowers police to ticket motorists who “in a reckless manner, drive the motor vehicle unnecessarily close to, toward, or near a bicyclist, pedestrian, or a person riding a horse or driving an animal-drawn vehicle.”  In 2008, the Illinois legislature passed a law which required drivers to keep a three (3) distance from bicycles on the road.

Although these are seen as improvement from preventing Illinois bicycle accidents, certain groups would like to see state-wide legislation regarding “dooring” accidents. In other words, when a parked motorist opens their door into a bicycle lane without leaving enough time or room for the bicyclist to veer out of the way.

The Active Transportation Alliance, which is a group involved in efforts to make streets safer for bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists in the Chicago region, wants to raise public awareness and promote stiffer penalties for dooring accidents. They intend to launch a campaign to increase public awareness about dooring crashes. The group considers doorings the most prevalent threat to on-street cyclists.

Dooring accident are viewed as very dangerous.  The Chicago Tribune reported recently that informal surveys the alliance has conducted among its members indicate that more than half the people who bike on streets have been doored at least once, said Ethan Spotts, spokesman for the organization. But lacking solid statistics, bicycling advocates say they can neither prove a problem exists nor apply for federal and state traffic-safety funds to address it, he said.  From 2005 through 2009, there was an average of more than 3,500 crashes each year between vehicles and bicyclists in Illinois, resulting in 18 to 27 cyclists killed and more than 3,300 injured annually, according to IDOT statistics.

Unfortunately the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) or Illinois law does ot currently classify dooring accidents as a moving violation or as an actual vehicle accident because the car is not in motion.  IDOT’s position is that they are following national crash reporting standards. But doorings are a growing safety problem, and for IDOT to say this has been our standard for many years simply ignores a dangerous trend,”  Dan Persky of Active Transportation Alliance said. “Our proposal wouldn’t add to IDOT’s workload.”

Those familiar with Chicago know that this is a bicycle friendly city and there hundreds, if not, thousands of bicyclists on the road in our city at any time. I have heard many dooring accident stories and firmly believe there needs to be legislation enacted that would help prevent these accidents.  The bicyclists are not going anywhere, so it is time to start protecting them.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a Chicago bicycle accident or Chicago car accident, then call Chicago personal injury attorney, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free consultation at 312-588-3384 or go to the firm website www.blgchicago.com.