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Articles Posted in Bicycle Accidents

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Chicago Andre Vasquez has proposed streamlining the process to have cars and trucks towed that are blocking a bike lane.  Alderman Vasquez commented that: “cars just don’t care.  They’re parking there, waiting there. double-parking there.  Even when we had the Department of Finance ticket them, they weren’t moving.  By giving the Department of Finance the ability to tow them, it would incentivize people not to do it so they don’t get their towed.”

Additionally, the proposed ordinance would require signs to be posted that a bike lane will be closed 24 hours in advance whenever a permit is issued to do work that would close a bike lane.

The Alderman’s proposal was in response to a tragic accident that occurred on June 9, 2022 where a mother on a bicycle with a toddler named Lily seated in a carrier was riding down Leland Avenue bike lane.  Lily’s mother came upon a ComEd truck that was parked in the bike lane doing work.  Lily’s mother attempted to steer around the truck parked in the bike lane and was forced to maneuver by a semi-truck.  The semi-truck began to move causing Lily’s mother to lose her balance which caused Lily to be thrown to the roadway under the wheels of the semi.  Alderman Vasquez stated that he firmly believes that Lily would still be alive if his proposed ordinance were in affect at the time this incident occurred.

 

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On May 18th, Chicagoans joined cyclists worldwide in the Ride of Silence to honor those who have been killed in bike crashes. In 2021 and 2022, at least eleven cyclists have been killed locally, including notable figures such as School of Rock star Kevin Clark and architect Helmut Jahn. Cycling-related deaths have been getting more attention lately, and not just because of the fame of some victims. The problem is getting worse, with a spike in deaths over the past few years. It is also increasingly being viewed as an avoidable problem, one that could be mitigated with infrastructural changes that protect cyclists.

Groups like the Active Transportation Alliance are pushing for things like protected bike lanes to be expanded so that cyclists are less vulnerable to vehicles on city streets. Specifically, they are asking for more safety measures on the busiest of cycling streets, such as Milwaukee Avenue, where accidents are more frequent. Advocates highlight the urgency of such measures by pointing to the growth in cycling and the expansion of services like Divvy bikes. More bicycles on the road means more accidents, some of them fatal, if cities do not take extra precautions. Continue reading

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Alderman Vasquez of the 40th Ward in Chicago has been advocating for snow to be cleared from bike lanes after a protest by bicyclists who complained that the bike lanes have not been cleared.  Surprisingly, there were around 103,000 Divvy bike rides in Chicago according to the Chicago Department of Transportation.  However, bike riders have a much more difficult time riding in the winter, and if the bike lanes are blocked with snow and sludge it makes riding a bike unfeasible and very dangerous.  The injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer note that bike injuries happen at all times of year.  Alderman Vasquez also instructs that bike lanes should be cleared regardless if the lane is protected by flex posts or not.  He continues that if a lane is protected by flex posts then a smaller plow needs to be used to clear the lane.  If the bike lane is delineated by just a painted line, then it is easier to clear with just the regular snow plow.

Bike lanes continue to be controversial in Chicago with bicyclist advocating for more protected lanes and for bike lanes to be maintained while motorist complain that the bike lanes take away scarce parking spaces.  Businesses owners also claim that they lose customers because of lack of parking.  Hopefully, these conflicts can be mediated so that both sides are satisfied.

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The intersection of Logan Boulevard and Western Avenue has the sad and tragic history of being the site of two fatal cyclist accidents in the last 15 years.  The intersection is congested and confusing in that the traffic lights and the intersection itself is primarily under the Kennedy expressway.  Add to that the Kennedy Expressway has both on ramps and off ramps that are situated at the intersection.   The intersection has been the site of many motor vehicle accidents.  The personal injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer have handled more than one personal injury cases that arose from crashes at that intersection over the years.   Bicyclists are especially vulnerable at that intersection due to the blocked vision under the expressway and the general confusing nature of the intersection.  Without the protection that the metal body of an automobile provides, bicyclist, sadly suffer serious and sometimes fatal injuries when involved in a crash with a car of truck.  The latest bicycle fatality was in the early summer of 2021 when the actor Kevin Clark, who was best known for his role as the young drummer in the hit movie “School of Rock”  was hit by a car while cycling through the intersection.

A separate bike lane has since been added for cyclists traveling on Logan Boulevard with the bike being painted green.  The motor vehicle traffic is also separated from the bicycle lane by plastic poles.  While cyclists applaud the new separate bicycle lanes, not everyone is happy with the new bicycle lane configuration at this intersection. Motorists note that before the changes, Logan Boulevard had two east bound lanes and two west bound lanes for motor vehicle traffic but now, with the new bike lanes, Logan Square Boulevard now has been reduced to one lane for east bound traffic and one lane for west bound traffic causing traffic backups.  Especially aggravating to some motorists is that it appears that there are very few bicyclist using the bike lane during the cold winter months.  This trade off between bicyclist safety and motorist convenience seems to be playing out all over the city of Chicago with motorists complaining that bike lanes take precious parking space and cause additional congestion by eliminating motorist lanes lanes while bicyclist arguing that the improvements are needed to protect the safety of cyclists on the roadway.  The injury attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. support bike safety and hope that solutions can be arrived at that accommodate both  the needs of motorists and bicyclists.

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The Navy Pier Flyover in Chicago is finally open after 7 years and a cost of $64 million dollars.  The flyover is 1,750 foot long  and 16 foot wide.  It starts from Ohio Street Beach and continues to the south side of the Chicago River.  Peter Zneimer, of the injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. notes after riding his bike on the flyover that even with the addition width and space the flyover is still very congested with pedestrians, cycle rickshaws, skaters, baby carriages of people who are from Chicago and tourists visiting from out of town.  Given the nature of the area one would think that bicyclists would proceed slowly and with caution in this area.  While most bicyclists recognize the high potential for crashes and injury and proceed with due care and caution, there are a fair number of bicyclist who blast through the area at full speed, weaving in and out around pedestrians and and other bicyclists.  This type of behavior is a recipe for disaster. Serious injury to pedestrians and bicyclist are certain to be the result of such reckless behavior.  The city of Chicago could do more to be pro-active in getting bicyclists to slow down such as posting more signs to slow down and having traffic monitors to tell dare devil bikers to be more responsible.

 

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The long-awaited Navy Pier Flyover project is still in the offing, but a portion of one of the most hazardous areas of the Lakefront trail has gotten a face-lift. In February, the Chicago Department of Transportation announced that the path on the East side of the lower Lake Shore Drive bridge will now be expanded. This new path will accommodate northbound cyclists and pedestrians, and portions of it will run through the bridge houses.

Prior to this expansion, the trail narrowed to a small, poorly marked lane under the bridge. All trail-users precariously shared this space, with cars whizzing closely by, but the additions will allow people to pass over the river more safely on their rides or runs. Indeed, the whole Flyover project is intended to avoid such problem areas and should make for a much more enjoyable, trail experience when it is finished.

Improvements like this reduce the risk of collision and injury, but no matter how wide the lane, or well-designed the path, it always remains a possibility. Make sure to exercise caution when walking, running, or cycling, especially now that warmer weather is finally upon us and more people are out shaking off their quarantine cobwebs.    The injury lawyers of  Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C.  encourage bicyclists to be extra careful as go out for a ride. Enjoy the new-and-improved bridge path, but still wear your helmet and stay aware of your surroundings.

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Bicyclists in Chicago face a lot of perils as they navigate the city streets.  Despite Chicago’s claim that it supports biking, the city does not do enough to protect bicyclists from danger.  Even on painted bicycle paths, bicyclists face many threats.  Squeezing in between parked and moving cars, cars turning right and left, car doors opening in bicyclists’ faces, meandering around various-sized potholes –  are all risks facing bicyclists in Chicago.  The Chicago personal injury law office of Zneimer & Zneimer helps many injured bicyclists each year.

Chicago boasts a Lakefront Trail, a shared path with pedestrians, roller skaters, and bicyclists along the lake. Biking there is not free from hazards.  Bicyclists face the dangers of colliding with other bikers, roller skaters, or pedestrians or falling because of cracks and potholes.

Injuries on the Lakefront Trail happen.  If a person suffers injuries there, the question is who pays for the medical bills, lost time from work, and any permanent damage that the injured biker may suffer.  Unlike a car-vs-bicycle collision where a car must have liability insurance, people using the shared path do not have to have insurance.   When a bicyclist gets injured because the path has a crack or a pothole, injured bicyclists can sue the Chicago Park District that maintains the path.  However, plaintiffs have a heavy standard to meet and show that the Chicago Park District was willful and wanton in its failure to maintain the path.

In a case involving the Lakefront Trail, a bicyclist got caught in a crack in the pavement and he fell.  The plaintiff sued the Chicago Park District, alleging that it had acted willfully and wantonly in failing to maintain the path in filling the crack right away. Therefore, the plaintiff alleged, the Chicago Park District was responsible for his injuries resulting from his fall. Continue reading

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A new transportation trend is popping up in cities around the world. E-scooters are considered viable alternatives to other, less environmentally conscious ways to get around town. But the attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C., want to know how these scooters are being embraced by city-dwellers and visitors alike. Chicago created an e-Scooter Pilot Program, which gave permits to ten companies to test the viability of e-scooters as a mobility option and “was designed to maximize safety and minimize sidewalk clutter” within its city limits.[i] The pilot program lasted from June 15, 2019 to October 15, 2019 and reported over 800,000 rides.[ii] The city released an evaluation report to determine the impact of emerging scooter technologies on communities, the safety of residents and riders, and on existing transportation. The report showed that “nearly half of the scooter rides started or ended near public transit with the survey confirming 34 percent of riders used the scooters to connect to public transit.”[iii] Scooters are not only a convenient means of transportation, but they are also better for the environment. In fact, “[i]n the four-month pilot period, the e-scooters eliminated approximately 300,000 miles of vehicle travel, equivalent to approximately 116 tons of CO2.”[iv] Yet, e-scooters are not completely carbon neutral. North Carolina State University conducted a study that found each e-scooter contributes 50 to 200g of CO2 per mile.[v] While e-scooters are helping Chicago reduce its carbon emissions, more work needs to be done if the city wants to reach its goal to be carbon neutral by 2050.

The E-Scooter Pilot Evaluation also brought other issues to light, including accessibility and durability of the E-scooters. The executive summary from Chicago’s Business Affairs & Consumer Protection and Department of Transportation states, “Ridership was geographically concentrated in areas with a high density of other options such as Divvy, bus and rail, rather than in areas with fewer options. Analysis of the data also indicates that the jury is still out on whether e-scooters connect riders to public transit or replace private car or ride-hailing trips. More work also needs to be done to lower the environmental impact of the short life cycle of e-scooters.”[vi] E-scooters, while praised for their environmental sustainability benefits, need to be more sustainable in their design. NC State University also looked into this issue in its study, which found that a scooter’s life cycle produced emissions even before it hits the street. These emissions derive from “the production of the materials, like the lithium-ion battery and aluminum parts; the manufacturing process; shipping the scooter from its country of origin (mainly China) to its city of use; and collecting, charging, and redistributing scooters as part of the dockless service.”[vii] As e-scooters become more technologically developed, these durability concerns should diminish.

Chicago is a “Leadership City” in the American Cities Climate Challenge, a program designed by Bloomberg Philanthropies to reduce carbon pollution and deepen public support for a sustainable future.[viii] As a participant of the program, Chicago has pledged to reduce carbon emissions, including implementing changes within the city’s transportation and building sectors, and e-scooters seem to be helping. The city has recommended a second e-scooter pilot program to launch in 2020, where it can “implement lessons learned and test new solutions with a goal of identifying ways to expand access to safe, reliable and equitable mobility options for Chicago residents.”[ix]

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With 2,500 new dockless electric scooters, and countless first-time riders on the road, Chicago’s new e-scooter pilot program has gotten off to a rocky start. In the first six days alone since the launch, at least ten people went to emergency rooms for scooter-related injuries, with two of these injuries requiring surgery.

These accidents, ranging from hit-and-runs to cyclist injuries, are a rising threat for people simply getting around in the 50-square-mile testing area outside of the Loop. However, A study by the CDC and the city of Austin, TX (another city in the e-scooter boom) found that 33% of scooter accidents happen during a rider’s first time on a scooter. Another 30% of accidents occurred within the riders’ first ten rides. The data out of Austin combined with the rainy weather during Chicago’s pilot week is a recipe for deadlier accidents than ever. A 2011 study by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society found that the risk of fatal car crashes rises by 34%, the wetter the roads are.  The injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. urge everyone to exercise extra caution given that many first-time and new riders are getting their bearings in the direct line of traffic.

E-scooter riders are relegated to bike lanes, but lack of enforcement by the program vendors finds pedestrians dodging riders and side-stepping e-scooters left in the sidewalks and streets. The CDOT and partner vendors have distributed guidelines, via fliers, to communicate expectations of scooter use, with rules such as “We walk scooters on the sidewalk. We keep our eyes on the road. Be alert and pay attention. We wear helmets. We park scooters with care outside of sidewalk paths and by bike racks where possible. We ride in the bicycle lane. We obey all local traffic laws. They apply to us.” However, once off the bicycle lane, the app-based leaves it up to riders to decide where to park the scooters after use.

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While biking along Chicago’s lake front bicycle path near Diversey Harbor, personal injury attorney, Peter Zneimer of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. observed much confusion regarding which lanes were to be used by bikers and which lanes were to used by pedestrians.  Some bikers were riding on the pedestrian path while some joggers and walkers were in the bike lanes.  A number of near miss collisions ensued even during the short observation period.  There were no markings on the pavement that would give some instruction to bikers, joggers and walkers as to which lane they were supposed to be in.

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However, farther north near Montrose Harbor, the confusion was alleviated by clear pavement markings that designate that bikers use the two lanes to the west while pedestrians use the two lanes to the east, closer to the lake.  Lawyer, Peter Zneimer strongly urges that these simple and seemingly inexpensive lane markers be painted on the lanes south of Montrose Harbor, near Belmont Harbor and Diversey Harbor and farther south to avoid serious collisions which most certainly will occur without these lane markers.  It is hard to understand why the lanes are not marked with painted designations given the amount of traffic on the path and how cheap it would be to paint them.

 

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