Chicago has experienced a boom in recent years in overall bicycle riding across the city. As two-wheeled traffic has increased, the city has responded with:
- Better road designs
- Increased bicycle traffic signals
- Designated bicycle lanes
This was done to allow riders and motorists alike to share the roads safely. However, bike lanes are present in limited locations. Cyclists must still ride among vehicular traffic in most areas of the city.
Further, where bike lanes are present, motorists often encroach into them, causing collisions. The Chicago bicycle lane accident lawyers at Abels & Annes see these collisions occur rear-round.
Bicycle Laws in Illinois
Under the laws of Illinois, a bicycle is treated the same as a vehicle. This means a bicyclist can legally ride a bike in a lane of traffic but must obey all traffic laws that are in effect.
Additionally, vehicular drivers must recognize a cyclist's right to ride and must respect the cyclist while in traffic and bicycle lanes. If everyone abided by these rules, there would be fewer bicycle lane accidents. But unfortunately for riders in Chicago, driver mistakes happen daily and bicycle accidents continue to occur.
Types of Bicycle Lanes in Chicago
There are several types of designated bicycle areas in Chicago along the streets that bisect the city. The City of Chicago identifies bicycle-friendly areas as bicycle lanes, shared lanes, and bicycle routes.
- Bicycle lanes are areas of a road solely for bicycle traffic. This means that the lanes are not for other traffic, including cars, trucks, and buses. Some bicycle lanes are open while others are buffered or protected, utilizing barriers or other devices to physically separate the bike lane from other portions of the street. Buffered lanes are currently used in the Loop on Washington and Dearborn Streets, for example.
- Shared lanes permit both bicycle and vehicular traffic in the same area. Generally, shared lanes are marked with bicycle symbols, visually designating to those in the area that the lane is intended to be used by cyclists as well as drivers. In a shared lane, usually there is no line separating the area where a bike travels from the area where cars drive. There, both types of travelers are expected to be aware of the other.
- Bicycle routes are designated paths created by the City of Chicago. They are commonly biked areas and may appeal to a wide range of bicyclists. Usually, riders and motorists share the lanes along bike routes but, unlike shared bicycle lanes, there might not be street markings indicating bicycle traffic.
Even if there is no specific bike lane, bicycle marking, or bike path designated on a street, cyclists are legally authorized to ride the roads unless specifically prohibited by law in an area.
Common Causes of Bicycle Lane Accidents
A bicycle lane is a space designated only for cyclists to ride. Bicycle lanes are not intended for vehicular traffic. However, it may be necessary for a car to cross a bicycle lane as it turns, merges, or proceeds through an intersection. As only cyclists should ride in bicycle lanes, it may seem peculiar that so many collisions happen between cars and bikes in these areas.
Bike lane encroachment remains a significant cause of collisions between bicycles vehicles. When a driver of a car fails to maintain his or her lane and encroaches, or even crosses into a bicycle lane, accidents happen. Regardless of whether the encroaching vehicle strikes the front, rear, or center of a bicycle, it is likely that injuries to the cyclist will result from the collision.
Bicycle dooring accidents also happen with some regularity as cyclists utilize bike lanes. A dooring accident occurs when a vehicle door opens into the path of an oncoming cyclist, causing the cyclist to strike the car's door. Typically, this happens when a driver attempts to exit a car without verifying that cyclists are not in the area.
Taxicab Driver & Passenger Bike Lane Encroachment
Taxi passengers often cause dooring accidents as they exit on the street side of the cab, opening a door into a bicycle lane. Taxi drivers contribute to the problem by dropping off passengers on or next to bike lanes.
It is the duty of everyone in a vehicle to look for cyclists before opening their vehicular doors. Failing to do so is negligent conduct that can result in legal liability for any damages that happen to an injured cyclist who is doored. Bike lane accident attorneys at our law firm have worked on several cases involving taxicabs.
There may be times when a vehicle must cross a bicycle lane in Chicago. In the event that a car needs to turn, enter or exit a roadway, or merge, it may be necessary to cross over a designated bicycle lane. This is typically legal for a vehicle to do so.
However, a driver who travels through a bicycle lane must do so in a safe and reasonable manner. This means yielding to cyclists where appropriate, allowing bikers to proceed before making a turn, and checking for oncoming cycling traffic before initiating an action that leads to or through a bicycle lane. Even if a driver must cross a bicycle lane, he or she can be held liable for damages that result due to negligence.
Legal Rights Following a Bike Lane Accident
Cyclists should be able to ride in Chicago without becoming injured, but every year thousands of accidents occur. In fact, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation, there were 2,532 bicycle accidents in Illinois in 2018 alone. Further, 2,338 of those crashes resulted in injuries.
That means nearly 92 percent of all bicycle accidents in Illinois caused some type of harm to those involved.
Common injuries sustained in a bike crash include:
- Broken or fractured bones
- Neck and back injuries
- Shoulder injuries
- Cuts and lacerations
- Open and closed head injuries, including concussions
Seek Legal Help if Injured in a Bicycle Lane Accident
When in an accident due to the negligence of a motorist, you should seek legal guidance. Victims may have a hard time understanding their options, including whether they can seek a recovery for their damages. Bike lane accident lawyers in Chicago offer free consultations and will explain your rights.
Under Illinois law, victims of bicycle accidents can obtain relief. A civil claim for damages can help a victim recover for actual financial damages incurred. You can recover medical bills, surgical bills, lost wages, and property damage. Future medical expenses and non-economic losses including pain and suffering can also be recovered.
Who Can I Bring a Bike Lane Case Against?
These claims can be against:
- An at-fault driver
- The owner of the vehicle that caused the accident, in certain cases
- A city, municipality or state
- A company employing the negligent driver, if the driver was working at the time of the accident
Following an accident, motorists in Chicago often try to blame a collision on the actions of a bicyclist. In some cases, an error or mistake by a cyclist may have contributed to a collision. However, that doesn't necessarily mean you have no case. It's always best to consult with a bike accident lawyer ASAP.
In many cases, a cyclist will do nothing wrong and still get injured due to the negligence of a driver. Under Illinois law, a cyclist may collect damages for any injuries that result from the collision.
Contact a Chicago Bicycle Lane Accident Lawyer for Help
At Abels & Annes, P.C., our injury lawyers understand the devastation of a collision. We believe that every bike accident victim deserves to have legal representation fighting for his or her rights.
If you sustain an injury in a bike lane accident in Chicago, call us today at (312) 924-7575. We offer a free case consultation without any obligation on your part. We have a licensed lawyer standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week to take your call. If you prefer, contact us online to schedule your free case consultation.
If you have been hurt in a bike lane accident, make sure your legal rights are protected. Call us today and let us help you get the relief you deserve.