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.

How might this actually be putting bicyclists at even greater risk? For residents, all the recent hype over bicycling in Chicago may be giving cyclists the general perception that it is safer to ride in the city. However, for visitors, the promotion of bike sharing programs, along with the multitude of visible indicators which relay a message that the city is highly ‘bike-friendly,’ seems most problematic of all. This is because visitors, especially those unfamiliar with the city, may not be aware of the risks that accompany bicycling in Chicago-namely, the potential for accident or injury. This concept-that the city is perhaps instilling a false sense of security-also extends to new residents, and in some cases, even parents that are attempting to educate and prepare children bicyclists to navigate along Chicago’s busy roadways.

It is important to note that the foregoing assertions are in no way intended to imply an opposition to the city’s efforts. Rather, the bicycling collision attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer, wonder if the city’s efforts might perhaps be more self-motivated, as opposed to having a genuine focus on the issue at hand-cyclist safety. In support of this contention, consider the manners in which the city is benefiting from bike planning, bike infrastructure, and the general promotion of cycling, in comparison to the safety benefits gained by cyclists.

As recently discussed by Zneimer & Zneimer, bike infrastructure contributes to economic development in the city. Bike routes, bike sharing, and other planning efforts, provide cyclists with access to local businesses, which not only helps local business owners, but creates revenue for the city in the form of taxes, licenses and other fees. Likewise, bike sales, bike sharing companies, and any other bike-related purchases provide the same support to local businesses and creation of tax revenue for the city. Further, the construction needs associated with bike infrastructure, creates more jobs, both in Chicago, and in surrounding areas. Bike Infrastructure has even been noted for the manners in which it can increase property values, by deterring or redirecting cyclists who may have formerly used residential neighborhoods as through-ways.

In addition to the economic growth, development and revenue that bike planning offers, the city also continues to place an emphasis on other aspects of cycling, such as health and environmental benefits. While these are all noteworthy contributions to our city as a whole, what seems to have been temporarily displaced, is the initial intent behind infrastructure-bike safety and the reduction of accidents and injuries-given that the city has only partially incorporated all its intended plans. In fact, the final phase is not even expected to begin until 2018, with completion by 2020-and that is if everything goes as planned.

For now, cyclists still remain at great risk for accident, injury, and even fatality. The current infrastructure in place now, has failed to offer bicyclist any notable reduction in bike crashes, yet the city continues to vehemently promote the new ‘bike-friendly Chicago.’ As warmer weather approaches, and more cyclists emerge, the lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. remind cyclists to ride with caution. If you or a loved one were involved in an incident while bicycling, contact our team of Chicago Bicycle Accident Attorneys, at 773-516-4100, or online at www.zneimerlaw.com, and allow us to explain your legal rights and options.