Tragically, there have been three fatal bicycling related crashes in Cook County in the last three weeks. The latest fatal bicycle accident occurred on October 23, 2023 at 8:00 pm in the 5100 block of N. Damen in Chicago. This stretch of Damen Ave. is a very congested area, and there are only painted on bike lanes. This area is also notorious for crashes and close calls between bicyclists and cars. The Chicago personal injury lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. observe that it is well know that Chicago has a bad reputation for bike safety. A bike safety advocacy group called PeopleForBikes assessed 163 large cities on how safe the cities were for cyclists and assigned a score. The score was determined based on a cities grid connection and intersection safety, the number of protected bike lanes and the cities speed limits along with other factors. The study ranked Chicago 161 out of 163 large cities for “bikeability” in 2023. The city scored poorly in creating connecting bike lane routes, providing protected bike lanes and establishing access to all neighborhoods and fundamental services.
Another big factor as to why Chicago scored so low is that PeopleForBikes assessment automatically considered a painted bike lane on a street with a 30 mph speed limit to be dangerous. Since the default speed limit for streets in Chicago is 30 mph, almost all painted bike lanes in Chicago are considered dangerous by this standard. The reason for this is that painted bike lanes typically run next to parked cars which expose the biker to being doored into the moving traffic or a bicyclist may have to make a sharp maneuver into moving traffic to avoid the door. In such instances it would be much safer for the bicyclist if traffic were moving slower.
Chicago bicycle safety advocacy groups such as Active Transportation Alliance have been pushing for the completion of a fully interconnected bike network with protected bike lanes that would connect all of the cities neighborhoods. Though such a network is far from reality, the good news for bicyclists is that Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson and many members of the city counsel have publicly supported a full bike network that would connect the whole city. The bicycle accident lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. support the completion of a network of protected bike lanes in Chicago to help prevent deaths and serious injuries from bicycle accidents in the future.