In Chicago and in the rest of Illinois, bicyclists are legally authorized to ride in the roads as they move about town. When no distinction for bicycle traffic exists, riders are able to maintain a lane of traffic just like a car, truck, or van can and bicycle flow is controlled by the same devices as vehicular traffic. In many areas of downtown, separate lanes on the roads exist for bicycle traffic, and in some cases, those lanes are even protected by barriers or bollards which prevent cyclists and motorists from mixing unintentionally. Some roadways even possess unique traffic signals that control only cycle traffic and that let riders move through the city in a safe and efficient manner.
These innovations in cycling have arisen due to necessity in Chicago as the number of riders continues to increase dramatically every year. As bicycle accidents have increased with the increase in ridership, those in charge of safety in the city have taken action to limit the mandatory interactions between bikes and cars.
Of all the ways in which bicycles and vehicles can cross paths, one continues to be understood less than it should be and little attention is paid to it: bicycle dooring accidents. A bike dooring incident happens when a vehicle’s door is opened into the path of an oncoming cyclist, causing the cyclist to collide with the open door. Typically, this happens when a car pulls to the side of the road to stop or park, allowing the driver or a passenger to attempt to exit the vehicle. If those in the vehicle fail to look for oncoming bicyclists before opening their doors, they may be acting negligently and may cause a collision to take place.
When it comes to crashes, it is always best to prevent one whenever possible. And when it comes to bicycle dooring accidents, it turns out that they are very easy to prevent if motorists take the time to put safety first. If you drive in Chicago or if you bike on occasion, make sure you keep the following in mind.
First, if you are in a car, always check your surroundings before opening a door. Some avid cyclists can ride between 10 and 15 miles per hour which means that they can appear quickly. Know that the bicyclist likely has the right-of-way if he or she is riding and you are seeking to exit a vehicle so follow the rules of the road by yielding. In this case, wait until the cyclist passes your vehicle before you open your door and exit. Always check your mirrors or look over your shoulder to check for oncoming cycle traffic when you stop or park and remember that your actions will determine whether or not a dooring incident takes place.
Second, whether you are a cyclist or a motorist, make sure you understand the laws of Chicago. Realize the rights possessed by bicyclists and respect those rights if you drive. If you ride, make sure you follow all applicable local laws as well as any state rules that govern your conduct and make sure you do not put your own needs before the safety of others.
Third, expect the unexpected. No matter how you choose to get around Chicago, you should realize that anything can happen. Traffic conditions can change without notice and hazards can appear out of nowhere. Do not take your own safety for granted by believing that you are following the law. Instead, be proactive by expecting the unexpected as you ride or drive. Be prepared to stop or to swerve if necessary to avoid vehicles or bicycles and always take note of your surroundings. If you must take evasive action, do so in a manner that will not threaten harm to others by moving away from pedestrians and others in traffic.
Finally, avoid congested areas to limit the odds of a collision. If a certain street or block is known to have a lot of motorists parking curbside while also boasting a large amount of bicycle traffic, it may be best to avoid that area or areas during peak travel times. Removing yourself from a potentially dangerous situation can help you arrive at your destination uninjured.
Ideally, everyone in Chicago will put safety at the forefront of their actions while on the roads and the potential for collisions will drop drastically if not be entirely eliminated. However, until that happens, bicycle dooring accidents continue to occur and continue to cause harm to riders in the city.
If you were hurt in a bike dooring accident or if your loved one was injured or killed, call the personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. today and let us provide you with a free, no obligation case consultation regarding your accident and your legal options. We have a lawyer standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take your call toll free at (855) 529-2442 or locally at (312) 924-7575 and we will keep everything discussed confidential.
The legal team at Abels & Annes, P.C. believes in fighting for the rights of victims and if you were hurt, we want to fight for you. Call us today to make sure your options are protected and to let us help you get the relief that you deserve for your injuries.
Prior Blog Entry:
Will Self-Driving Cars Make Chicago Roads Safe?, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published September 4, 2015.