Reckless drivers often blame others for causing bicycle accidents, but the reality is motorists need to take responsibility and be held accountable for causing serious collisions with cyclists. That's an opinion shared by a columnist who recently wrote a blog about a bicycle accident in Chicago involving a cyclist who was not wearing a helmet at the time of the collision.
"[I]n many types of serious or fatal bike crashes in which a driver runs over a person's body, a helmet may not do anything to mitigate the damage," John Greenfield wrote. "And obviously prevention is better than cure – it's way more important to take steps to stop bike crashes from happening in the first place."
Chicago Bicycle Accident Raises Questions
Greenfield's column was recently published by Streetsblog Chicago (Keating Law is a sponsor) and focused on a bicycle accident involving a cyclist hit by a car while commuting from home to work. The injured cyclist wrote about the accident in the Chicago Tribune, in which the cyclist focused on the fact that he was not wearing a helmet.
"You won't see me without a bike helmet anymore," David McGrath wrote in the Chicago Tribune. "In fact, several days after the accident, I wore one to take out the trash. Some lingering post-traumatic symptoms, I suppose. But I'll take that over what could have been."
However, the issue is not whether the injured cyclist should have been wearing a helmet, according to John Greenfield. Instead, the focus should be on educating drivers and building better bike lanes in cities throughout the country. "Successful bike crash prevention requires better education and infrastructure," Greenfield wrote.
Better Infrastructure = Fewer Bicycle Accidents
Greenfield points out an interesting fact about bicycle fatalities in the U.S. compared to more bike-centric countries like Denmark and The Netherlands. "In the U.S. lots of people bike in helmets and we have a high cycling fatality rate. In Countries like Denmark and the Netherlands, almost nobody bikes in a helmet, but the cycling death rate is a fraction of ours."
What's the difference? According to Greenfield, there are two main reasons why there are fewer bicycle fatalities in The Netherlands and Denmark, even though fewer cyclists there wear helmets.
- Both countries have an extensive network of protected bicycle lanes. This means that cyclists do not have to share the road with motorists. Instead, cyclists in The Netherlands and Denmark have their own lanes separate from sidewalks and the road.
- Both countries have "universal bike education," Greenfield wrote. This "means that everyone who drives is mindful of cyclists on the road, and probably uses a bike for transportation themself at times."
In addition, if a motorist causes a bicycle accident in The Netherlands, "the motorist is automatically held liable unless it can be proved that the victim caused the crash," Greenfield wrote.
Bicycle Accident Attorneys Fighting for Chicago
At Keating Law Offices, our firm has been at the forefront of making meaningful change to bicycle laws that protect cyclists in Chicago and throughout Illinois, but more still needs to be done. Remember, it only takes one negligent driver to hit you and cause a collision that turns your life upside down. Consequently, holding reckless drivers accountable through the civil justice system is critical to improving cyclist safety.
If you or someone you love was hit by a car while riding a bicycle in Chicago, let our highly skilled legal team step in to protect your rights, advocate for your best interests, and fight for the financial compensation you're entitled to under the law. Our bicycle accident lawyers have years of experience successfully handling complex cases in Cook County and surrounding communities. We would be honored to talk to you about your potential legal case.
Contact Keating Law today at 833-CALL-KLO for a free consultation with an experienced Chicago bicycle accident lawyer. There are no obligations, and we offer legal representation on a contingency fee basis. That means you pay no fees unless we win your case. Call us today to learn more.