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Chicago Passes New Legislation to Boost Street Safety

Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Illinois, at dusk. Cars speed through the intersection.

Learn About Recent City Ordinances in Chicago Aimed at Preventing Bicycle Accidents and Improving Cyclist Safety.

In an effort to prevent bicycle accidents in Chicago and keep cyclists safer, Chicago City Councilors recently voted in favor of several city ordinances, including the Complete Streets ordinance and the Smart Streets Pilot ordinance.

“I’m thrilled about the passage of our Complete Streets Ordinance,” Chicago 47th ward alderman Matt Martin said in an interview with Streetsblog Chicago. “It’s critical that our city make pedestrian, cyclist, and transit rider safety an integral part of routine infrastructure planning. While more changes are needed to protect the most vulnerable users of our streets and fully reach Chicago’s potential as a multimodal city, I’m heartened that this ordinance will set a baseline for safety and provide alderpeople and residents with visibility into CDOT’s (Chicago Department of Transportation) progress every year.”

At Keating Law Offices, P.C., our Chicago bicycle accident attorneys applaud the city’s efforts to make our streets safer for cyclists. Unfortunately, our legal team knows all too well how dangerous Chicago’s streets can be for cyclists through our work on behalf of injured cyclists.

What is the Smart Streets Pilot Ordinance?

The Smart Streets Pilot Ordinance allows the city to install cameras on city-owned infrastructure (including utility poles and buses) in central Chicago “to issue tickets by mail to drivers who stand or park in bus lanes, bus stops or bike lanes, as well as to manage parking in loading zones,” according to Streetsblog Chicago. However, the ordinance "does not allow for camera enforcement of driving in bus and bike lanes, which would require new state legislation.”

The Smart Streets Pilot program will run through June 2025. The cameras will be installed in Chicago within the area bounded by Lake Michigan, Roosevelt Road, North Avenue, and Ashland Avenue.

What is the Complete Streets Ordinance?

The Complete Streets ordinance requires the CDOT to take certain steps when designing or improving Chicago streets. Such changes include creating guidelines for standardizing the installation of safety improvements for road projects, especially when repaving streets. Such safety improvements include standard guidelines for:

  • Protected bike lanes
  • Pedestrian islands
  • Wheelchair ramps
  • Raised crosswalks
  • Curb extensions
  • Bus lanes
  • Bus boarding islands

In addition, the Complete Streets ordinance requires the CDOT to report on these developments to the Chicago City Council regularly.

How Safe is it to Bike in Chicago?

Chicago city officials were motivated to pass the ordinances due to the high number of bicycle accidents in the city. In 2021, in particular, the number of fatal bicycle accidents in Cook County (including Chicago) more than doubled compared to the previous year. In 2021, there were 23 bicycle accident fatalities in Cook County, Illinois, compared to 11 deaths in 2020, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). And compared to the rest of the state, 67 percent of all bicycle accident deaths in Illinois occurred in Cook County in 2021.

Experienced Chicago Bicycle Accident Attorneys

Bicycle crashes in Chicago that cause serious injuries or fatalities often turn into complex legal cases. That’s because the at-fault driver’s insurance company usually does everything possible to pay injury victims or family members as little as possible. In some cases, the insurance company may even try to deny liability altogether, which can leave injury victims and their families struggling to cover medical expenses and other costs associated with the crash.

The experienced Chicago bicycle accident lawyers at Keating Law Offices are here to help and can demand every dollar you deserve. Bicycle accident-related expenses can add up fast. And you often only have one opportunity to obtain compensation for a lifetime’s worth of expenses. Make your case count. To schedule a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 833-CALL-KLO to speak with our dedicated office staff and live operators, who are available to assist you 24/7. We have two Chicago locations and can meet with you right away to answer any legal questions you might have about your injury claim or lawsuit.

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