The streets of Chicago can be chaotic, with streams of cars and pedestrians heading in every direction at nearly every hour of the day. Because of parking difficulties and often deadlocked traffic, many people choose to ride their bikes around the city. Biking is convenient and economical, but it can also be a dangerous prospect, especially in a city like Chicago.
The Chicago Department of Transportation recognizes the risks of biking in Chicago, particularly for children. Kids may not be aware of how to safely ride their bikes and parents may not understand how to fully teach their children. To help keep kids safe, the DOT provides information and guidance about bicycle safety for children. The following are some of the tips provided in these helpful materials.
When Riding on the Sidewalk
Many kids ride their bikes on the sidewalk, thinking they cannot get hurt if they are not in the street. However, there are many ways bike accidents and injuries can happen on the sidewalk, as well. The following are some tips for kids who ride their bikes on the sidewalk:
- Always make sure no vehicles are entering or exiting alleys or driveways before you pass them. Stop or slow down if you need to in order to look both ways.
- Be aware of people walking on the sidewalk. Do not speed pass them and alert them that you are coming with a bell or by calling out.
- If you must cross a street, always look left, right, and then left again. Make sure any drivers clearly see you and are stopped before you enter the street. Try to cross at a corner whenever possible instead of the in the middle of a block.
When Riding on the Street
First thing’s first—children should only ride their bicycles on the street if they get permission from their parents first and go over the safety rules. Some important safety rules include:
- Ride the same direction as traffic—not against it.
- Try to ride in as straight of a line as possible. Drivers cannot predict if you are going to zig–zag and can hit you.
- Always stop at every stop sign and stop light, just like the cars do. If you have to cross a very busy street, it may be better to get off your bike and walk through the crosswalk.
- Know when to look behind you. This is important to do before you are about to ride around a pothole or road hazard, before you turn, or before you go around a parked car or another object that is in your way.
- Watch parked cars—if there is a driver in a car or if you see brake lights, the car may pull out in front of you or as you pass.
In addition to knowing when to look behind, kids should always practice looking over their shoulder to make sure they can keep their balance and keep riding in a straight line in the process. Kids should also know how to turn while they are riding on the street, as it is commonly necessary for them to do so. Some things kids should know include always stopping, looking left, right, left for cars, following traffic lights, and more.
In addition, there is information for parents and teachers regarding how to select the right bicycle and helmet for a child to keep them safe. Additionally, it teaches parents how to check a bike’s brakes, seat height, and pedals for any potential safety problems. It may be tempting to simply hand down a bicycle from an older sibling or neighbor, however, you should always make sure the bike is the right size for the child and properly maintained before you let them ride.
Accidents Can Still Happen
The unfortunate truth is that even if your child follows every imaginable safety rule, you can still receive the call that they were the victim of a bicycle accident. Even with the right helmet, most of a child’s body is exposed to an impact or fall, and even the best helmet cannot protect from brain injuries. An injured child often requires emergency medical care and you should always have a doctor thoroughly examine your child to diagnose any injuries that may not be otherwise obvious.
Bicycle accident injuries to children can be costly for both your child and your household. Some injuries need extensive treatment, including time spent in the hospital, surgeries, and ongoing rehabilitative therapy. All of this treatment can result in piles of medical bills that can significantly affect your household finances. Unexpected medical bills are one of the leading causes of bankruptcy in the United States and your family should not have to shoulder these costs if someone else caused the accident.
In addition to financial costs, an injury can keep your child out of school for a period of time, prevent them from participating in sports and other enjoyable activities, and even alienate them from their social relationships. Some injuries can cause permanent impairments, which completely change the course of your child’s future. Children can often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a traffic accident and may require treatment for mental injuries as well as physical ones.
Our law firm can help identify whether any parties may be held financially liable for any injury-related losses—both financial and intangible losses. We know how to bring bicycle accident claims against negligent drivers, companies, government agencies, and more. We will help your family move forward from a bicycle accident in the best situation possible.
Discuss Your Injuries with a Chicago Bicycle Accident Lawyer Today
Learning that your child suffered injuries is always distressing. If your child was in a bicycle crash, you may be able to significantly improve your situation by seeking financial compensation from any negligent parties. At the law office of Abels & Annes, P.C., we can evaluate whether you have a viable claim for free and we help our clients with each step of their legal case. Call (312) 924-7575 or contact us online for a free consultation today.