No matter the time of year, there will always be outdoor activities including bike riding. As more and more people enjoy bike rides, we should also be diligent about bike safety.
In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while 1% of trips taken are by bicycle, cyclists are more at risk for crash-related injury and deaths than motor vehicle drivers. While bicycling fatalities are never inevitable as people start to bike more, we can cut down on the numbers by being proactive with education, policy, and infrastructure.
Biking is one of the cheapest and most efficient ways to travel around urban cities and neighboring communities. Whether you are commuting to work, enjoying a leisurely ride, or trying to lose weight and get healthy—there are numerous benefits to pumping your legs.
According to the League of American Bicyclists, more bicycling could vastly improve the health of Americans while cutting down on traffic congestion. Studies have confirmed that 75-150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity weekly can reduce the risk of hypertension, obesity, asthma, and diabetes.
Chicago Bicycle Accident Statistics
According to the Bike Crash Report in Chicago, between 2005 and 2010, there were almost 9,000 bicycle accidents, with 32 of them being fatalities. As more and more people decide to commute to work, there will be an inevitable increase in traffic accidents involving bicycles.
In fact, in 2004, bicycle accidents accounted for 6.7 percent of all crashes, whereas in 2010, they accounted for 9.8 percent. The number of bicycle commuters has increased by 150 percent since 2000.
It’s important to note that more than half of all fatal bike crashes occur at intersections. Of Chicago’s 77 community areas, six that are just north and northwest of the Loop account for over one-third of bicycle routes and one-third of bicycle injuries.
With proper safety gear and equipment, bicyclists can significantly reduce the risk of severe injury when following the rules of the road.
Bicyclists and the Law
As a cyclist, you have a right to share the road with other motor vehicles with the expectation that those around you will be alert to your presence and do all they can to minimize the risk of an accident.
When you ride your bike, you must obey the rules of the road, which include stopping at red lights, coming to a complete stop at stop signs, and staying in your bike lane.
It is illegal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk in Chicago unless it is marked as a bike path or on your way to a nearby transit station or road. Overall, bicycles are considered vehicles under Illinois law.
Within Illinois and in Chicago, in the event of a crash, you will be more likely to be on the right side of the law if you adhere to it as much as you can.
Stay Within Your Lane
Cyclists should stay on the right side of the lane under safe circumstances. It’s important to avoid open doors or parked cars to minimize a collision. This means that it’s perfectly fine to ride in the middle of the lane in some streets.
Bike lanes are helpful for keeping to the right side of the road except for when you are overtaking another bike or motor vehicle or when taking a left turn.
Bicyclists can take a left turn similar to vehicles by moving to the left lane and signaling their move.
Box-style left turns involve staying on the right side of the road and crossing the intersection before crossing again.
Always yield to oncoming traffic and obey the law.
No matter what direction they take, cyclists should extend their arm horizontally to indicate the direction they wish to take. Slow down while signaling and try to signal about 100 feet before you need to turn.
Using Sidewalks Properly
Depending on your local ordinance, bicyclists may not be allowed to use sidewalks. If you are on your bike, you should always yield to pedestrians and let them know when you are about to pass them.
In some parts of Chicago, violators may be fined $200.
Wear Reflective Gear and Lights
If you are riding at night, always wear a front lamp visible at least 500 feet in front of you. Bicyclists should also wear a red reflector that can be visible to 600 feet away.
Be Visible to Motor Vehicles
Never forget that vehicles have blind spots, especially when you are passing or riding behind. If you can’t see the driver, it’s a good likelihood that they can’t see you either.
If a car is blocking your view, try to pull up enough to be visible. It can be dangerous to ride past a vehicle when you don’t know if any car is coming. Only ride if there is a clear view.
Refrain from riding too close to a car: you may not be able to see potholes, pedestrians, traffic, or other bikers.
Ride With Traffic
Never go against traffic, even though you might feel that it is safer to see oncoming cars. Not only is it against the law and risky, but it also accounts for 20 percent of collisions. Oncoming traffic may not be looking out for you, and turning vehicles may be looking the other way.
Sharing the Road With Buses and Trucks
If you’re riding next to a bus, never get squeezed between it and the curb. Bicyclists generally share the road with buses but never try to outrun or squeeze by a bus. If you encounter a bus, try to pass on the left after checking that the road is clear. If you cannot pass safely, you should wait until it is fine.
Obeying the rules of the road not only keeps you from deadly or fatal crashes but can also ensure that you are able to receive total compensation for any injuries or damage you might suffer.
Tips to Avoid a Bicycle Accident
Biking is a healthy and cost-efficient way to enjoy yourself while reaching your destination. However, like other forms of transportation, there are always risks, especially when cars and other pedestrians are involved.
Your bike does not offer as much protection against the shock of impact the same way that cars do, especially in a high-impact accident.
Bikers should always follow the rules of the road and have high situational awareness to reduce the risk of accidents. Here are 16 tips for crash prevention:
- Always wear a helmet, and make sure it fits properly
- Ride a bike that fits you—a bike that’s too big is harder to stop suddenly
- Maintain your bike and make sure brakes are in good working condition
- Wear protective clothing and reflective gear
- Make sure your shoelaces, pant legs, or other flowy clothing don’t get caught in your bike chain
- Try to keep your hands free by wearing a backpack
- Ride one per seat
- Ride in the same direction as traffic, and obey stop signs, lane markings, and traffic lights
- Motorists opening a car door may not be aware that you are approaching
- Try to find routes with clearly marked bike lanes
- If riding at night or under poor visibility, use front and rear lights to make you more visible to others
- Do not bike while intoxicated
- Headphones can distract you from an oncoming vehicle; try using a portable speaker instead
- Plan your route by choosing routes with less traffic, slower speeds, and a bike path
- Look out for objects that can cause you to fall, such as debris, potholes, grates, and train tracks
- Avoid driving on the sidewalk—cars may not see you coming if the sidewalk ends unexpectedly and you turn on the street
What to Do After A Bicycle Crash
Most road-savvy bicyclists understand how critical safety is while riding their bikes.
Still, no matter how many precautions you take, the odds are stacked against you. There are far more cars than two-wheelers in Chicago, and the odds of you being severely injured are far greater than for a motorist.
If you are involved in a bicycle accident, it’s essential to know what to do immediately after to protect your rights or those of a loved one.
According to Illinois law, you should do the following if involved in a bicycle crash:
Call the Police
You and the motorist should remain at the scene if there are injuries or property damage.
You may not feel hurt, but it’s best to wait for the police to write down important details. Once the motorist has left, it may be impossible to track them down later.
Obtain Contact Information
Just like in a motor vehicle accident, you will want to jot down the motorist’s ID, phone number, address, driver’s license number, make of car, and license plate number – even before the police arrive.
You never know if the motorist will choose to leave, so get as much information as you can while they are at the scene. Taking pictures of the scene with your cell phone is an excellent way to document the scene, vehicles involved, license plates, and any injuries.
Ask for Witness Information
If there are any witnesses, get their contact info too. Witnesses can corroborate your story in the event the motorist leaves or denies the crash.
Ask for Insurance Information
Whether or not the driver owns the motor vehicle, it’s important to gather any information you can about the car and the driver.
Document What You Remember
Try to remember all the details of your bicycle accident, including the location and time of the accident, and any traffic or weather conditions.
Seek Immediate Medical Attention
Don’t write off a sore wrist or slight pain in your ribs; even minor injuries should be evaluated by a doctor.
Contact Your Chicago Bicycle Accident Lawyer
Don’t call your insurance company before speaking with a bicycle accident attorney. If you are involved in a bicycle accident, you should seek out the services of a bicycle accident attorney.
Bikes come with varying price tags, customizations, and personal attachments. Insurance adjusters may not be well-versed in how to value your bike and may downgrade your total loss. Worse still, they may recommend repairing your bike, despite the fact that it is not recommended as bikes cannot be restored to their brand-new condition.
Your bicycle accident lawyer will advocate for you to receive fair compensation for the loss of your property.
Don’t Leave Without Speaking to the Police
Even if you have done your due diligence to wait for the police to arrive, never leave the accident scene unless the police have said you are free to go.
In many states, leaving the scene of an accident is considered a criminal violation. Even if you feel fine, you may be in shock or full of adrenaline, so don’t get right back on your bike if the accident was severe. It can take hours or days for accident victims to process the pain and severity of their wounds completely.
Personal injury lawyers are experienced in these kinds of cases. Insurance companies may try to get you to settle before you have all the information to support your claim. They will also use anything you say against you.
A reputable law firm can negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf to seek financial compensation that provides relief from medical bills and lost wages. If the insurance company does not make a reasonable settlement offer, your bicycle accident attorney can file a personal injury lawsuit and go to trial for you.
Don’t forget that bicyclists retain the same rights and responsibilities when sharing the road with cars. Some motorists forget about sharing the road or respecting bicyclists. It is in your best interest to protect your rights after a Chicago bicycle accident.
Common Injuries After a Chicago Bicycle Accident
Bike riding is a wonderful means of transportation. It can help you save money on gas and help protect the environment. Yet, accidents can occur suddenly. Many injuries result after a collision with a car, bus, truck, pedestrian, or even another cyclist.
Some bicycle-related injuries include:
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Head Injuries
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Crush Injuries
- Orthopedic and Soft Tissue Injuries
There are also medical bills and lost wages to worry about while you heal.
A bicycle accident is no joking matter, often resulting in long-term suffering and trauma like spinal cord injuries and brain damage. Since treatment can be costly, many cyclists might worry about medical bills. Still, there are many ways to mitigate any potential fallout.
The right personal injury attorney can fight on your behalf and get you the compensation you need so that you can focus on healing.
How Can Bicycle Accident Attorneys Help if I Was in a Crash in Chicago?
Were you injured in a bicycle accident? Even a minor crash can easily result in serious injuries.
You may need some time to get back on your feet. You never want to jeopardize your recovery by trying to navigate a challenging personal injury claim by yourself.
Hiring an experienced bicycle accident attorney gives you the time you need to heal, and they will ask for the financial compensation you deserve.
If you have been injured in a bike accident, you may be facing legal challenges under the laws of Illinois that require unique knowledge and experience that come with bike laws.
Our Chicago personal injury lawyer can seek proper compensation if you have correctly followed the laws of the road and a driver crashes into your bike. Mike Agruss Law, can provide immediate legal assistance to:
- Fight back against insurance companies that will fight you every step of the way to deny your claim
- Ensure that drivers involved in the accident don’t try to blame you for your injuries and property damage
- Determine if more than one person is responsible for the crash and if you are owed financial remuneration
- Seek compensation to offset injury, lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering
- Determine if the driver was at fault or reckless
Our injury law firm represents victims and their families who have suffered an injury while on the road. We navigate your case efficiently and will be by your side every step of the way, and we will go to trial on your behalf.
If you’re worried about financial constraints, we do not get paid until you do. Our contingency fee stance means our clients never risk anything—except legal justice.
We specialize in handling catastrophic bike accident lawsuits and have recovered successful settlements and verdicts for our clients.
Who Is Liable For My Injuries After a Bike Accident?
Under Chicago law, anyone who causes a bicycle accident can be liable for resulting injury or damages.
If this has happened to you, you might have a legitimate claim against anyone whose recklessness or negligence has injured you. This may include:
- Defective bikes or safety equipment
As our client, you have a right to know why you got injured and who can be held responsible. The attorneys at Mike Agruss Law will work endlessly to investigate the circumstances surrounding your bike accident to get you maximum compensation.
Were You Hurt in a Bicycle Accident?
Bicycles are no match for motor vehicles. Bicyclists are highly likely to be severely injured if involved in an accident.
Following the rules of the road can reduce your risk of being injured in a bicycle accident, yet nothing is 100%. If you have been injured in a Chicago bike accident, you should contact your Chicago bicycle accident attorney to go over your next steps.
It can be challenging to recover financial compensation for injuries and their long-term ramifications. Experienced bicycle accident attorneys work hard to protect your interests by seeking fair compensation.
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, either due to unsafe road conditions, a distracted motorist, or a defective bike product, and would like to go over your case with a personal injury law firm, we are always available for a free consultation.