Increase in Bike Messenger Services poses Safety Risk to Pedestrians

The Chicago Bicycle Accident Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. have decades of experience representing victims in a diverse range personal injury matters. As the city continues to enhance infrastructure and improve safety, more and more residents are turning to eco-friendly modes of transportation such as walking or biking. With more bicyclists and pedestrians has come not only more accidents, but a wider variation in the types of accidents. While in previous years, it was more common to see incidents of a motorist striking a pedestrian or bicyclist, we have begun to see increasing numbers of incidents involving bicyclists colliding with pedestrians.

Recently, we expressed our concerns of the growing numbers of bike path accidents, in which a path or trail user sustains injury after being struck by a bicyclist. However, another trend that we find highly concerning is the risk for pedestrian injury caused by the ever-increasing presence of messengers, couriers, and similar bicycle delivery persons. Bike messenger accidents are unique, because, unlike other types of bicyclist-versus-pedestrian incidents, the victim may be covered under a liability insurance policy held by the messenger service.

Pursuant to state law, 625 ILCS 5/11-1515 provides:

No person, firm, or corporation shall operate a commercial bicycle messenger service in a city with a population of more than 2,000,000 unless the bicycles used are covered by a liability insurance policy at the expense of the person, firm, or corporation. The insurance policy shall be issued in amounts no less than the minimum amounts set for bodily injury or death and for destruction of property under Section 7-203 of this Code.

In understanding the insurance requirements set forth by statute, it is helpful to understand the effect of a recent amendment to 625 ILCS 5/7-203, which increased the minimum amounts of coverage for bike-messenger liability policies that are issued or renewed after January 1, 2015, as follows:

  • For policies issued/renewed prior to 1-1-15:
    • Bodily injury (single victim) – $20,000
    • Bodily Injury (2 or more victims) – $40,000
    • Property Damage – $15,000
  • For policies issued/renewed after 1-1-15:
    • Bodily injury (single victim) – $25,000
    • Bodily Injury (2 or more victims) – $50,000
    • Property Damage – $20,000

In addition to provisions under state law, it is also helpful to take note of local laws pertaining to the operation of bicycle messenger services. In other words, while state law provides minimum requirements, a city or municipality may enact local laws which enhance or further the purpose of state law. For example, in Chicago, messenger services that operate within the city’s central business district* must obtain a license, which requires proof of insurance, as set forth in section 4-168-050 of Chicago’s Municipal Code:

(a) Each applicant for a bicycle messenger service license shall provide proof that the applicant and each bicycle operator engaged by him has insurance coverage in the following minimum amounts arising in any way from the issuance of the license:

(1) $50,000.00 for property damages;
(2) $50,000.00 for injuries to or death of any one person; and (3) $100,000.00 for injuries to or death of more than one person in any one accident.
In addition, worker’s compensation coverage must be provided as required by state law.

NOTE: “Central business area” means the area bounded by a line as follows: beginning at the easternmost point of Division Street extended to Lake Michigan; then west on Division Street to LaSalle Street; then south on LaSalle Street to Chicago Avenue; then west on Chicago Avenue to Halstead Street; then south on Halsted Street to Roosevelt Road; then east on Roosevelt Road to its easternmost point extended to Lake Michigan.

If you are a pedestrian that was injured as a result of being struck by a bike messenger, it is important to discuss the matter with a legal professional who can explain your legal rights and entitlement to compensation, as well identify all potential sources of compensation. The Chicago Personal Injury Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. have extensive experience in handling both pedestrian accident and bicycle collision cases, and remain dedicated to seeking justice on behalf of the injured. Schedule your FREE Consultation by contacting us online, or calling 773-516-4100.