June 24, 2014

Poor Maintenance of Bike Lanes Creates Hazards for Cyclists says Chicago Attorney

As Chicago continues to install more bike lanes, many are worried about the city’s ability to keep up with lane maintenance issues. While a number of cyclists have already voiced their concerns by filing a complaint with the Chicago Department of Transportation, others have opted to simply forego the use of routes where the lack of maintenance presents safety hazards. As Bicycle Accident Attorneys, the injury team of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. takes note of current problems associated with poor maintenance of bike lanes, but at the same time, also have uncertainties over plans for the construction of more infrastructure in the coming months and years.

There are a variety of maintenance issues, some which are associated specifically to bike lane location, but many more which are dependent on the time of the year. In warmer seasons, critical problems include: roadway debris, such as garbage or broken glass; roadway surface conditions, such as potholes or cracks in pavement; as well as the persistence of pavement-marking issues, particularly along unprotected lanes (i.e. disappearing white lines),.Many cyclists have reported bent rims, flat tires, and other bicycle damage, caused by poor maintenance of bike lanes. Most concerning though, is the risk of injury or fatality, due to the increased potential for bike accidents caused by such hazards.

In colder weather, cyclists face issues similar to those present in warmer seasons, but with the added component of hazards created by inclement weather. During these months, it can be difficult for the city to keep up with the removal of snow and ice along roadways, let alone ensure that bike lanes are cleared as well. While the prevalence of winter cyclists is far less, we must not forget the commuter bicyclists that travel via bike for a significant portion of the year. Further, clearing roadway debris, which is often neglected during colder months, can accumulate, thereby increasing the need for clean-up efforts in the spring.

Fortunately, the city is aware of the problem, and is making improvements, such as increasing the use of street-sweeping machines—that fit into separated and barrier-protected lanes—to two times a month. However, residents remain concerned. As recently reported by the Chicago Tribune, the CDOT’s Assistant Director of Transportation Planning stated, "[i]t is still a brand-new experience and we are constantly learning, [however], [o]ur intent is to continue to improve upon snow-plowing and street-cleaning."

Although efforts at addressing existing issues of poor bike lane maintenance are underway, apprehensions persist over whether the city can adequately adapt to the increase in bike lanes that are expected to occur during each phase of plan implementation. Currently, we have only reached the half-point in the city’s goal to install 100-miles of protected lanes by 2015. Further, protected lanes encompass a mere portion of the overall infrastructure that the city projects. According to current plans, installation of more than 600 miles of bike lanes—both protected and regular—has been approved, with completion expected to occur over the next 5 years.

As Bicycle Accident Attorneys, we share concerns similar to those held by many residents. If maintenance is currently a problem—with approximately 50 miles of protected, and less than 200 miles of unprotected lanes—how will the city be able to ensure that bike lanes are properly maintained when bike lane mileage is tripled?

June 20, 2014

Altering Roadway Use and Redirecting Traffic: Is this a Realistic Solution to Improving Safety?

The Chicago Bicycle Accident Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. stand behind the city’s efforts to improve cycling safety, by creating more bike routes that provide a safe and accessible means to destinations. both within the city and to neighboring communities. However, we are also drawn to the consideration that full realization of the safety benefits offered by increased infrastructure, requires a simultaneous adaptation by the persons that actually use our roadway—in particular, bicyclists and motorists. Although the implementation of bike routes throughout Chicago is still in its early stages, given that plan completion is at least a half-decade away, we wonder if the city has relied too heavily on the expectancy that bike planning will automatically increase safety, by shifting roadway use.

A key component of Chicago’s 2020 Bike Plan is the incorporation of more neighborhood bike routes, “to create slow, safe streets that will turn into less stress bikeways.” Modeled in part, upon approaches implemented in other large cities, such as Portland’s ‘neighborhood greenways,’ the intent behind such routes is to discourage cut through traffic and reduce motor vehicle speeds in residential areas. In contrast to neighborhood routes, crosstown and spoke routes serve the purpose of providing cyclists a safer means of sharing roadways with motorists in areas with higher volumes of motor vehicle traffic, by incorporating: (1) Barrier protected bike lanes; (2) Two-way barrier protected bike lanes; (3) Buffer protected bike lanes; (4) Bike lanes or marked shared lanes.

Aside from an attempt to improve safety, what do neighborhood bike routes share in common with crosstown and spoke routes? The answer—much of the city’s bike planning efforts seems to be premised upon the notion that bicyclists and motorists will alter the manner in which they previously used our roadways. Stated differently, bike routes, regardless of type, are essentially a means of redirecting traffic. For bicyclists, the expectation is that they will adjust their travel routes, in accordance with existing infrastructure or as new routes are constructed. For motorists, the expectation is that drivers will discontinue using residential neighborhoods as a means of cutting through, and perhaps even avoid roadways where the construction of designated bike lanes have decreased the number of traveling lanes for vehicles.

However, regardless as to where bike routes are constructed, many will continue to utilize the same routes they have been accustomed to—whether motorist or bicyclist. In example, if cutting through a residential neighborhood allows for access to a destination in the manner most efficient to a motorist, then many will continue to use short-cuts. While reduced speeds in such areas may discourage some drivers, law enforcement certainly cannot monitor each and every residential neighborhood. Yet, with bike planning efforts, there may be more bicyclists using neighborhood routes, many of whom may be riding under the misconception that a particular route is safe. Likewise, parents might feel that bike infastructure has increased the safety for children in residential neighborhoods, when in reality, the same dangers remain.

In addition, consider the dangers that remain for bicyclists, even if motorists do alter their routes. Drivers traveling upon roadways with protected bike lanes might feel that the risk of a collision with a cyclist has been reduced, and therefore may be more inclined to travel at a higher speed, or be less observant of their surroundings. And where a parking lane has been used as a barrier, the risk of a dooring accident not only remains, but has perhaps even been increased. Further, motorists that redirect their routes to reduce the number of cyclists they may encounter by avoiding roadways incorporated into bike infrastructure, may be less likely to reduce speed or remain observant. Yet, many bicyclists will still continue to use these routes, regardless as to whether they are protected.

From the bicyclist perspective, certainly safety can be increased by bicyclists who use these routes, but again, this is highly dependent, not only whether cyclists choose to use such routes, but also the manners in which infrastructure impacts the travel routes and driving habits of motorists. The irony in Chicago’s bike planning and infrastructure efforts, is that, we are left with the same problems that existed well before the commencement of bike planning—we still must learn to share our roadways. Despite our concerns, we are hopeful to see the improvements that might occur in over the next few years. In the meantime, the attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. hope that we all can take a moment to realize the dangers that bicyclists face, and each do our part to improve safety and reduce accidents.

June 16, 2014

Can your Bike Crash Attorney do all of the Following?

Every accident is unique and bicycle accidents are no different. However, where bike crashes do stand out is in their potential to vary significantly, both in legal and factual issues. The ability of your attorney to competently identify, evaluate, address, and resolve each and every matter relevant to your case, can greatly impact the amount of financial recovery that a victim ultimately obtains. With nearly 25 years of practice experience, the Chicago attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. have identified SIX areas that play a critical role in most bicycle collision claims:(1) Causation; (2) Legal Multiplicity; (3) Insurance; (4) Fault; (5) Evidence; and (6) Valuation, each of which are discussed below. While some areas may interrelated, or dependent on one another, the key inquiry to keep in mind, is, can your attorney do all of the following?

Causation. Bike accidents can occur for a variety of reasons, just a few are: motorist negligence; bicyclist negligence; defective or faulty bicycle components; improper maintenance of private or public property; and more recently, we have even seen accidents along bike trails, caused by the negligence of another pathway user. Pinpointing potential causes of an accident is an essential component to determining potential sources of compensation. If numerous potential causes have identified, there might be more than one source of recovery that needs to be further explored. A competent attorney can identify and assess potential causes, as well as compensation sources, and explain the legal implications associated with each.

Legal Multiplicity. Along with each potential cause and source of compensation, can come a variation in the corresponding laws, rules, procedures, and processes associated with each. For example, an accident involving a bike-component can involve a products liability claim http://www.zneimerlaw.com/illinois-product-liability-attorney.html against a manufacturer or distributer, or a negligence claim against a bike-sharing company, and sometimes even a bicyclist. Likewise, claims against the government due to failure to remedy a known unsafe condition, such as a dangerous roadway condition—or—premises liability claims against a business establishment or private property owner for similar breaches in duty of care. Further, if a fatality occurs, provisions under both Illinois Wrongful Death Act, as well as Probate Law can apply. An attorney with prior experience in a diverse range of legal matters involving injury and death, is best equipped to provide effective legal representation.

Insurance. Seeking compensation from an insurance provider will either involve a claim against your own insurance, or the policy held by another individual or entity. Understanding applicability and entitlement under a particular insurance policy requires an ability to interpret contractual provisions contained within the policy, as well as a full understanding of Illinois Insurance Code. A proficient attorney can evaluate your rights to coverage under a particular policy, as well as discuss potential limitations.

Fault. In bicycle accident cases, the Defendant will often attempt to negate liability by alleging that the Plaintiff contributed to the cause of the accident. The ability to successfully overcome defense tactics employed by opposing counsel can be critical to a victim’s recovery. Illinois adheres to principles of contributory fault, the effect of which can bar recover for damages if a Plaintiff is found to be more than 50% at fault, and diminish recovery in cases where the fault assigned to the Plaintiff is 50% or less. Due to the impact that assignment of fault can have on a case, it is important to select a bicycle accident attorney that has significant trial experience.

Valuation. While it would be in conflict, with the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct, for an attorney to provide a client with a definitive answer regarding the outcome of a case, or the precise dollar amount that the claimant will receive, an attorney can speculate as to the potential value of your case. Placing a value on a case requires an assessment of similar cases, as well as the laws of a jurisdiction. In some cases, your attorney may consult with an expert that has specialized knowledge on a particular damage issue. Case valuation is best performed by an attorney that has extensive experience in appraising injury and death cases involving bicycle collisions.

Evidence. Identifying, obtaining, and preserving any and all relevant evidence is a vital component to bike accident cases. Forms of evidence that often play a key role in bike crash claims include: cell phone records; recorded statements from a witness or party; and photographs or video recordings. In some cases, such as where a bicyclist is injured or killed in a trucking collision, evidence can come from log books, gps-monitoring and computerized devices installed in the truck, and other records associated with the truck driver or trucking company, to name a few. While gathering evidence is certainly essential, your attorney must also have the ability to present such evidence in a meaningful way, particularly if the matter goes to trial, which often requires the use of an expert witness.

It is important to know that the discussion contained herein, addresses only some of the issues, areas, and matters, which are common to most bicycle accident cases. Claims for damages, whether involving injury or death, can be highly complex. Having the peace of mind in knowing that your attorney is adequately equipped and thoroughly prepared to conquer any and all potential hurdles, provides the time necessary for victims to recuperate from injuries or grieve over a loss.

If you or a loved one suffered injury or death in an accident that occurred while riding a bicycle, the Chicago law firm of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. want to help in obtaining the financial compensation that you deserve. Contact us at 773-516-4100, or by using the form provided on the side of this page.

June 13, 2014

Can Something be Done to Reduce the Risks for Accident and Injury along Chicago’s Lakefront Trail?

As Chicago continues to make strides in promoting cycling, there has been a notable rise in the use of bicycles throughout the city and neighboring suburbs. However, along with this, comes not only an increased presence of bicyclist that occupy our streets and roadways, but also more cyclists along trails and off-road pathways.

And while we have seen a multitude of improvements along bike routes that are shared with motorists—whether newly implemented, underway, or planned/proposed future projects—we must not forget the safety concerns that exist along multi-use paths. Stated differently, the city continues to make advancements in separating, or otherwise protecting bicyclists from motorists along roadways—but, what about protecting pedestrians from bicyclists along trails?

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June 10, 2014

Have Some Areas of Chicagoland Been Left Out of Bike Planning and Infrastructure Efforts?

In order to provide networking and ease of accessibility between communities, bike planning and infrastructure in Chicago, and surrounding suburbs is comprised of several key components—protected bike lanes along roadways; unprotected lanes which connect routes; and the off-road scenic and throughway paths, which are both protected and serve the purpose of linking communities. However, when considering all the cities that comprise Chicagoland, as a whole, and the current plans in place, we can’t help but wonder if the city’s bike planning efforts have failed to fully incorporate many of Chicago’s northern suburbs.

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June 7, 2014

Chicago’s Annual Bike Week to Begin on Friday

The Bicycle Accident attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. remind residents to use caution over the next week and half, as our roadways become inundated with the thousands of cyclists expected to take part in Chicago’s annual Bike Week. This year’s events, part of Bike Chicago 2014, are set to begin on June 13th and continue through until June 20th. Aimed at promoting the environmental and health benefits of biking, as well as safety awareness, this long standing tradition continues to gain popularity, as is shown by the substantial increase in attendance rates since the initiation of bike Chicago more than two decades ago. As stated by Mayor Emanuel in a Press Release:

"Every day more and more people are using bike share programs or their own bikes to get around City streets and the lakefront path, whether it's to work, to shop, or for fitness. Bicycling is a reliable, fast, affordable, healthy and great alternative form of transportation that all residents and visitors can utilize and enjoy."

One of the central focal points to Bike Chicago 2014, is Bike-to-Work week, in which residents are encouraged to forego the use of motorized vehicles, and bike to work for the entire week between the 13th and 20th of June. As a means of motivating participation in Bike-to-Work week, the Bike Commuter Challenge, [link to http://bikecommuterchallenge.org/ ] allows commuters to sign up to compete for prizes with other businesses and organizations, based upon ridership rates. In addition, participants may also challenge their colleagues, and team leaders can challenge other teams.

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May 12, 2014

Spring is upon us, Bicyclists Beware: Has the City’s Implementation of Bike Infrastructure & Planning, and General Promotion of Bike Safety Given Cyclists a False Sense of Security?

As a resident of Chicago, it would be hard not to notice efforts over the past couple of years aimed at making the city more bike-friendly. While Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. supports the health, environmental, economic, and many other benefits that bicycling offers the city and its residents in general, at the same time, as bike injury attorneys, we are compelled to reflect upon whether the city’s intense efforts to promote bicycling has perhaps given riders a false sense of security. This is particularly concerning given that commuting by bike is gaining traction in Chicago, as recently reported by the Chicago Tribune.

Despite Chicago’s notable recognition for their infrastructure, planning, and safety efforts, the truth remains, that bicycling accidents continue to remain a huge issue in our city. Although the infrastructure is nowhere near full completion, the city continues to focus primarily on the positive aspects of bicycling, and in recent times, perhaps even downplaying the negative. Just last year, Mayor Emanuel commented on how bicycling safety is a genuine issue in our city, but now, a little more than eight months later, it seems there has been a shift in focus—from promoting bicycling safety—to simply promoting bicycling in general.

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May 10, 2014

Increased use of Bike-cam’s throughout the city, says Chicago Injury Attorney

As you travel in the city, you may have noticed more bicyclists with bike cameras strapped to their helmets, handlebars, and even their bodies. Referred to as ‘bike-cams’ for short, the use of such devices offers a number of benefits to cyclists. The Cycling Injury Lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. are pleased to see that bicyclists are taking the initiative to improve their own safety, as well as protect their interests by ensuring that evidence is preserved in the event an accident occurs. In addition, an individual’s awareness that they are being videotaped, has been shown to be a deterrent to negligent or reckless conduct. The following discusses the effect that bike-cams can have on three primary groups of individuals—Bicyclists, Motorists, and Attorneys.

While, for bicyclists, the purpose of using a bike-cam is less likely to be associated with monitoring their own bicycling habits, these devices can actually allow cyclists the ability to observe their own riding practices, which can aide in the prevention of serious injury or fatality. Perhaps more important to accident prevention, though, is the potential effect that bike cams can have on motorist conduct. When a driver knows that they are being recorded, that motorist might be far more inclined to: Ensure cautious overtaking and yield; Maintain the statutory 3 foot distance; and Demonstrate more vigilant driving in general. In accordance with the foregoing, it is easy to see the manners in which bike-cams can both contribute to the prevention of bike collisions, as well as to the prevention of other types of accidents.

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April 25, 2014

Divvy Bike Share Program

The Chicago injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. take note of the growing use of Divvy—Chicago’s first large scale bike sharing program. The program, which began in July of 2013 with just 750 bikes and 75 stations, has grown significantly over the past year, to its current status of 3000 bikes and 300 stations. Divvy, which represents the idea of “dividing and sharing” the use of bicycles, is a concept that appears to be catching on, as can be seen by increased presence of Divvy bikes throughout the city. As stated in an April 15, 2014 report by the Chicago Tribune:

“Following a brutal winter, Chicagoans have embraced the blue-colored bikes at the first signs of spring. Riders, for example, took more than 25,000 trips during the first week of April as temperatures rose above 40 degrees.”

According to a city estimate, the number of trips taken on Divvy bikes is approaching nearly a million since the program’s initiation nearly 10 months ago. The program’s success is good news for Chicagoans, many who were worried about whether the program would continue, following a report in January that the company had filed bankruptcy. Despite this, the bike share program appears to be thriving, and although it fell short of its original expansion goal of ‘4000 bicycles and 400 bikes by Spring of 2014,’ with the program’s continued success, Divvy may very well reach this goal in the near future.

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April 15, 2014

Clarity amongst Confusion in the Aftermath of GM Recalls

Despite the abundance of media attention following the recent recalls of GM vehicles, many of the more than 6 million consumers affected by the recall, are still left with unanswered questions. Even more concerning—many motorists are entirely unaware that they may be the owner or operator of a recalled GM vehicle. As attorneys that practice both personal injury law, as well as product liability, Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. observe that the aggregate effect of consumer confusion and/or unawareness, has placed an immeasurable number of motorists at risk for loss of life or limb.

Although the media has been, and continues to be, an important means of providing notification to consumers, our team of injury lawyers are left wondering if the necessary information has been properly received by all person affected. While initial media reports focused on the ignition related recall for older model GM vehicles, the recall was subsequently expanded to include several newer model vehicles as well. Further, the initial ignition-related recalls were not the only major recall recently announced by GM. Late in March, GM reported its intent to recall several additional vehicles, due to issue with faulty power steering. As Accident & Injury attorneys, we find this sequence of recalls highly problematic, and for several reasons.

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March 28, 2014

Multiple Lawsuits Expected to be Filed Following CTA Derailment

Our Chicago Train Accident and Injury Attorneys are amongst the many residents that remain in astonishment following the recent CTA derailment, which many say mirrors the type of event that you would see only in movies. With more than 30 victims transported to area hospitals, and the operator’s recent admission that she “dozed-off” prior to the collision, in addition to doing so on a previous occasion, multiple lawsuits are expected to be filed as a result of this horrendous incident.

The accident occurred in the early morning hours on Monday, March 24, 2014. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, a CTA Blue Line Train was pulling into O’Hare International Airport, when it jumped the platform, causing the front car to derail and travel up onto an escalator at the station. Officials estimate the train was traveling approximately 25 mph prior to the derailment, but it is unclear at this time how fast train was traveling upon reaching the end of the platform. It is also unclear why the train’s automatic braking system failed to stop the train.

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March 13, 2014

Chicago Man Killed in Roll-Over Accident

The Chicago Wrongful Death Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. send our condolences to family and loved ones of Jason West, as they mourn the tragic death of a resident of our community.

Authorities say, the accident occurred on March 9, 2014 at approximately 1:25 a.m., as Chris West, 29, of Chicago, was traveling along Interstate 57, near West 99th Street. The victim, who was the sole occupant of a 2000 Ford Explorer, apparently lost control of his vehicle, causing it to crash and then subsequently roll-over.

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