Safety Tips for Riding a Bicycle in Chicago
Chicago is one of the ten best cities in the United States for bicycle riding, according to Bicycling Magazine. More and more people are riding bikes in Illinois for both recreation and commuting to work.
This increase in ridership has led the city to implement new rules and policies regarding bicycle traffic with the hopes of increasing safety and decreasing bike accidents. Many streets now have bicycle lanes while others are specifically marked as shared lanes for bikes and cars.
Yet other areas have protected lanes where barriers or even street parking separates the bicyclists from the driving vehicles. There are even some bicycle-specific traffic lights to manage and control bicyclists downtown.
Though there has been an increase in ridership and in bicycle-friendly streets, collisions between bicycles and automobiles continue. While cyclists cannot control the actions of others on the road, they can control their own safety by including safety practices into their routines.
How Can I Stay Safe Riding a Bike in Chicago?
Illinois bike accidents claimed the lives of 27 in 2011 and injured another 2,532. The Illinois Secretary of State's Office makes the following recommendations for bicycle safety:
- Always wear a helmet.
- Follow the rules of the road.
- Stay on the right while riding in the street.
- Obey traffic lights and stop signs.
- Stay off busy streets.
- Look both ways in intersections.
- Watch for cars at driveways and alleys.
- Don't carry people on your bike.
- Don't ride between cars.
- Yield for pedestrians.
- Use a headlight when riding at night.
- Stay alert.
Where Are Cyclists More Likely More Likely to Get Hit by a Car?
BicycleSafe.com recommends several safety tips at hazardous locations where bicyclists and drivers need to use extreme caution:
- Parking lot exits: It is very common for bike riders to get hit by cars that are exiting parking lots. Use a headlight, slow down and ride more to the left if possible.
- Opening car doors: We have represented several bike riders who have been seriously hurt by opening car doors. Drivers need to use due caution when opening doors and look for bicycles. Bike riders should move to the left, if it is safe to do so, while passing parked cars.
- Crosswalk accidents: Bikers often get hit in crosswalks by cars making turns. Slow down, try to avoid riding in crosswalks, and use a headlight at night.
- Don't ride the wrong way: Riding the wrong way against traffic is a dangerous way to ride, and against the law in many jurisdictions.
- Red lights: When you stop at a light, don't stop to close in a car's blind spot on the right. You could get hit by the car if it turns right on red.
- Left turns: Cars making a left turn often fail to keep a look out for bike riders. Bicyclists can try to avoid this danger by using headlights at night, not riding on sidewalks, wearing bright clothes and slowing down if you see a left turner.
- Rear end collisions: Being hit from behind on a bicycle can cause serious injuries. Try not to move left without checking for cars behind you, do not swerve in and out of parking lanes, and use your signals and mirrors when moving left.
Even When You Do Everything Right, You Can Still Get Hit by a Car on Your Bike
Through our experience as bicycle accident lawyers in Chicago, we have seen many injuries. Unfortunately, sometimes cyclists get hurt even when they follow every safety tip.
When you ride a bike, your level of safety is up to you. You decide whether to wear a helmet and reflective clothing, and to what degree you ride safely.
Beyond that, you place your safety in the hands of motorists on the road and hope that they will operate as cautiously as you do. When this happens, drivers and cyclists alike can travel the streets safely and without conflict. When one or more person fails to act in a manner that protects the safety of others, crashes and injuries are more likely to occur.
But if you don't follow every safety tip, that doesn't mean you don't have a case if hit by a car. In Illinois, if a motorist is more than 50% at fault in an accident, they or their insurance carrier will be held responsible for your damages.
Contact a Bike Accident Lawyer if Hit by a Vehicle
In a collision with a car, a bicyclist is always at a greater risk for injury. This is because there is nothing between the cyclist’s body and the car that hits him or her. If hit by a vehicle while riding a bicycle, you may have a claim for your damages, including your injuries. A personal injury lawyer can help you bring a claim against the driver who caused your accident and can seek a recovery on your behalf. Do not hesitate to seek legal help to get the relief you deserve.
If you have been injured in a Chicago bike accident, request a free case consultation or call (312) 924-7575 to speak with a personal injury lawyer now.