Chicago’s reputation as a bicycle-friendly city is one that is only growing as time passes. With the addition of miles of protected bicycle lanes, bicycle paths, cycle-only traffic signals, shared lane markings, and bike friendly areas, those who choose to ride in the city have countless ways to do so in a relatively reasonable and convenient manner. Unfortunately, though, even with all the additions to cycling safety that now permeate much of downtown, bicycle accidents continue to happen every week in Illinois and many leave devastation in their wake. From property damage to a bicycle to the physical injuries sustained by a rider, the damages from a collision may be significant and may prevent a cyclist from leading a normal life while he or she recovers.
In an urban setting, a left cross bicycle accident is a constant risk. It can happen when a cyclist riding straight through an intersection is struck by a motorist traveling in the opposite direction and turning left. In these situations, both the cyclist and the left turning driver have a green light but it is duty of the left turning motorist to yield until traffic is clear. While it may be easy to notice an oncoming car, truck, or SUV, it can be more challenging to see a small bicycle as it approaches, increasing the odds of a collision between a turning car and a straight riding bicycle.
In addition to left cross bicycle accidents being common, they are also deadly. A cyclist who is riding straight through an intersection often is traveling at a moderate to fast rate of speed. When struck by a turning car, the force involved may throw that cyclist from his bicycle and cause a secondary impact with the ground. While any bicycle impact can cause serious injuries, a left cross bicycle crash is more likely to prove fatal.
The best thing a cyclist can do is to take steps to avoid the dreaded left cross crash. If you are a rider, make sure you always ride with a headlight on and while wearing bright, reflective clothing. Increasing your visibility to passing drivers will limit the chances that they turn into your path. Keep your eyes on approaching traffic whenever you near an intersection and pay particular attention to any drivers who are in a left turn lane or who indicate their intention to turn as they may pose a danger to you. If a vehicle begins to turn left while you are coming up to an intersection or in a crossing, take evasive action to avoid an impact. Often, your best bet may be to turn right at the intersection’s opening and staying to the right of the turning car’s passenger side. While it may alter your path of travel, turning right can help you miss an impact and allow you to avoid injuries or even death. However, if you are able to come to a stop before a turning car and without endangering yourself, stopping and allowing the turning car to proceed is the best option for a cyclist.
Know that being hit by a negligent driver who ignores your rights is not your fault and that if you are injured, you may be entitled to bring a claim to help you recover for your financial damages. When in doubt, speaking with a personal injury attorney can help you understand your options and your legal rights.
Prior Blog Entry:
Chicago Concert Season Leads to Pedestrian, Car Accidents, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published August 22, 2016.