Safety Questions Loom Following Most Recent Bicyclist Death In Chicago

The Chicago Sun Times reported last week about the death of the bicyclist in Chicago’s West Loop and what safety precautions the city is taking to protect cyclists. A 39 year old woman was riding in the bike lane north bound on Halsted. As she was turning right onto Madison, a a dump truck owned by Lakeshore Recycling Systems, turned at the same time and clipped the woman causing her death. This type of turn is known by cyclists as a “right hook” turn.

Chicago, which is known as one of the premier cities in world for bicyclists, may not be providing all the safeguards needed to protect cyclists. Last year the city passed an ordinance requiring that trucks install side guard rails on trucks similar to the dump truck in question, which helps prevent cyclists from being sucked under the truck in case of a collision. Unfortunately, the truck in question did not qualify for this type of guard rail as ordinance only  only applies to large vehicles working on city contracts worth $2 million or more. The same ordinance also also requires trucks to have convex and crossover mirrors, only went into effect last month, and it’s being phased in over the next four years.

I think the city is falling short in their quest to be the most friendly bicyclist city in the world. They are certainly falling short towards their “vision zero” goal of no more traffic fatalities in the city by 2026. First, I think the city needs to require guard rails on all dump trucks, regardless of the size of their contracts with the city. Second, the time frame for the installment of the convex mirrors should be sped up. A lot of these waste removal companies are private, and they should take these small steps of upgrading their trucks immediately. The short term costs far outweigh the potential future loss of lives and serious injury. Finally, I think safety training for the drivers of these trucks needs to be overhauled. What safety training is required? May be further training and testing should be implemented with a focus on dealing with cyclists and pedestrian safety.

If you or a loved one 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.

Traffic Light Funding Approved For Deadly Stretch Of Devon Ave

NBC 5 reported last month that funding for a new traffic light has finally been approved on Devon Avenue near Le Mai Street in Chicago’s West Rogers Park neighborhood. This stretch of Devon has dubbed “Devon Speedway” by local residents as drivers are known to zoom by at rates of 60 mph despite a speed limit of 30. The funding finally came to fruition after a young man was rear-ended on his motorcycle and killed last month. This was one of multiple deadly traffic accidents in this area over the last several years. 39th Ward Alderman Margaret Laurino informed news outlets after this last car crash that funding had been had finally been approved for a new traffic light.

It’s a shame that it has taken the city this long to approve a traffic light that was obviously needed years ago. According to this report, a study was supposed to have been performed by the city’s department of transportation (CDOT) back in 2013. The family of deceased motorcycle driver will more than likely file a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver who rear-ended him. I think there is also potential to name the city of Chicago in this lawsuit. Government entities typically have immunity to lawsuits involving negligence unless the entity had notice of the issue (here lack of traffic light) and failed to address the issue. Here the deceased’s family could argue that the city knew as far back as 2013 that this stretch of Devon Avenue was incredibly dangerous and there had been requests for a traffic light, yet they waited five (5) years and after the most recent car accident death to provide the appropriate funding.

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

Active Transportation Alliance Calls For Safety Improvements On Chicago’s Roads

An alarming eighteen (18) pedestrians have been struck and killed in Chicago this year. That is up from a total of fourteen (14) through all of 2017. The Chicago Sun Times reported today that the Active Transportation Alliance, a community protection group, is calling for immediate changes from city legislators.  The group is calling for proposing lower speed limits, more speed cameras and a $20 million-a-year fund to pay for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “Vision Zero,” which aims to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2026.

The group is asking that the money go to multiple improvements including: better-lit crosswalks and countdown timers; pedestrian-refuge islands on wider streets; narrowing streets and re-striping the width of lanes to force motorists to slow down and installing bump-out curbs that force turning vehicles to go slower and make wider turns.

Neither Mayor Emanuel or the cities’ transportation department has responded to these requests by the Active Transportation Alliance.

I think most of these improvements are needed. My only issue has to do with the speeder cameras. I don’t think there is enough evidence yet showing that these cameras are an actual deterrent or make our streets safer. As I have written multiple times in the past, we know for sure that the red light cameras have not made intersections safer. Multiple studies from Texas A&M University have shown that overall the cameras have not actually reduced accidents. I think the jury is still out on the speeder cameras.

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

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.

 

Chicago Aldermen Propose Use Of “Textalyzer” By City Police

The Chicago Tribune reported this week that two Chicago Aldermen are interested in new traffic technology called a Textalyzer, a device developed by Israeli company Cellebrite — which can access a phone’s operating system to check whether it was being used to text, email or perform other functions. Its name is a play on the Breathalyzer, which can help determine whether a driver is legally drunk.

Ald. Ed Burke, 14th, and Ald. Anthony Beale, 9th, on Wednesday introduced a resolution calling on the Police Department to appear before a City Council committee “to address the use of emerging technology, such as a Textalyzer, in enforcing the city’s existing traffic laws or the investigation of vehicle accidents.”

I have written on the dangers of texting and driving on this site ad nauseum through the years, as I believe it has been proven that distracted driving is an epidemic in this country. Far too many people text and drive and it is causing serious traffic accidents and sometimes traffic fatalities. My problem with this proposal is that it calls into question whether this type of technology invades on peoples 4th amendment right to privacy. Specifically, the constitutional right against illegal search and seizures. Many people do not realize that when stopped by policy they do not have to submit to a breathalyzer or other sobriety tests. Further, people have the right refuse an officer’s request to search their vehicles. Although, it must be noted that if an officer believes there is probable cause for a search they can go ahead and do so (though anything found in such a search could be subject to the Court’s scrutiny as to whether the search was legal). The point here is whether police should have the right to seize a drivers phone and perform a “Textalyzer” analysis to determine if the driver had been using the phone at the time of the crash? I don’t believe so. It could be argued that the phone could be seized if there is overwhelming evidence that the phone was being used prior to the stop (i.e. the officer saw the driver typing into the phone while driving or the phone was in the drivers lap following a car accident).

These are all questions that need to be answered prior to the city moving forward and handing over this technology to police officers. I do not believe the City Council should rubber stamp this technology without a careful determination of the constitutional implications. Further, there is the question of whether this type of technology would be a deterrent for drivers to use their phones while behind the wheel.

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

Chicago Red Light Camera Class Action Lawsuit Moves Forward

According the Cook County Record and other news outlets, plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit filed against the city of Chicago for improper red light camera violations has survived a motion to dismiss by the city. The lawsuit, which alleged that the city failed to send a second notice of violation, as required by its ordinances, to give those receiving the tickets sufficient chance to contest them in court, before the city began assessing additional fees and fines for the unpaid tickets. In other words, the suit states that failing to provide the second notice was a violation of offender’s due process.

The city moved to dismiss this lawsuit and the circuit court judge, Kathleen Kennedy, not only denied this motion bet held the following in her ruling:

““The ordinance makes it clear that the city was required to send a second notice before determining liability,” the judge wrote. “The city argues that notices received by plaintiffs satisfied due process because ‘due process only requires notice and an opportunity to be heard’ … Here, plaintiffs’ receipt of a single violation notice does not mean that due process was satisfied when the ordinance mandates that two notices be sent to a non-responder before a determination of liability.”

The plaintiffs in this lawsuit are seeking class action status and this is another step forward in that pursuit. If plaintiffs do reach class action status and are able to prevail at trial, then the city could be facing hundreds of millions of dollars in fees that they must refund to drivers who paid these tickets without receiving the second notice.

It’s worth pointing out that weeks after this lawsuit was filed, the city immediately changed its’ procedure when issuing these tickets. They immediately began requiring they issue the second notice to violators. It will be unclear whether this action would be admissible into evidence if the case makes it to trial. Typically, subsequent remedial behavior by a tortfeasor is not admissible into evidence.

I have been writing in this blog for years now that red light and speed camera programs should end. Studies have shown that they do not provide a net safety benefit to the city as the number of traffic accidents have not decreased since the implementation of these cameras. I will be following this lawsuit closely in the news in the coming months.

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

Fleet Feet Posts The 12 Most Dangerous Intersections In Chicago For Runners

Fleet Feet, a popular Chicago store for runners to find shoes and other athletic gear, ran a fantastic poll regarding the most dangerous intersections in the city for runners. You can see the complete list by clicking here.

They compiled their results from a previous poll and also asked their social media followers to respond. Here is the list of the 12 most dangerous intersections:

  1. Roosevelt & Union
  2. Diversey & Lakeshore
  3. Kedzie & Logan
  4. Alleyways (all of them)
  5. Elston & Irving Park
  6. Halsted & Fullerton
  7. Fullerton & Damon
  8. Ashland & Cortland
  9. Ardmore & Sheridan
  10. LaSalle & Clark
  11. Sangamon & Jackson
  12. North & Milwaukee

I’m familiar with most of these intersections and have jogged and/or walked through some of them dozens, if not, hundreds of times, and yes they can be dangerous. I believe the LaSalle/Clark Intersection is dangerous for multiple reasons. For one, when heading south on Clark, the far right lane veers off onto LaSalle. For walkers and joggers, there is supposed the be a pedestrian walkway that allows you to cross the street and stay on Clark rather than veer right onto LaSalle. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen vehicles not pay attention and almost hit a pedestrian. The problem is that the white lines outlining the walkway have completely faded. I believe the city needs to re-paint and make more visible for everyone.

If you are a jogger or enjoy walking, make sure you always keep an eye out for your surroundings, especially if you frequent any of the above intersections. It would be nice if the city would look at each of these intersections and consider better cross-walk precautions such as pedestrian stop signs. I am hoping the Fleet Feet forwarded their results to the cities’ department of transportation.

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

Proposed Chicago Ordinance Would Allow Cameras To Ticket Drivers Blocking Intersections

According to the great website DNA Info Chicago, there is a proposed ordinance within the Chicago city council that would allow traffic cameras to ticket drivers blocking certain downtown intersections. Alderman Brendan Reilly proposed using automated cameras to enforce tickets on cars stuck in the middle of intersections when the lights change, thus blocking cross traffic. He specifically mentioned the corner of Randolph and LaSalle streets directly outside City Hall

Full disclosure, I don’t think this ordinance is being proposed for safety purposes. I think it is a traffic congestion ordinance that would hopefully force vehicles to avoid intersections when the light change. I actually walk past this intersection almost daily when I go to Court at the Daley Center, and the Alderman is correct: this intersection, along with Washington and LaSalle, is incredibly frustrating. It’s frustrating for both drivers and pedestrians when vehicles are constantly sitting in the middle of an intersection, making traffic more congested for everyone. Would this type of new traffic ticket make our streets safer and decrease the number of traffic accidents and pedestrian accidents? Probably not. Would it actually decrease the number of drivers that block intersections? Possibly. Especially if the fine is high enough. There has been no reporting on what the fine would be or whether this is close to passing. Another thought is that all of this congestion may just disappear when all of the construction for the separate CTA bus lanes are finally completed. I will be interested in seeing if this ordinance goes anywhere.

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