Many U.S. cities, including Chicago, are becoming increasingly more dangerous for bicyclists. This growing danger comes at a time when traffic fatalities among motorists have declined and more people have recognized the benefits of cycling.
About three years ago, Chicago was named the top city for cycling by Bicycling magazine. Safety advocates, however, say that Chicago is lagging behind on bicyclist safety in comparison with other large cities. City officials have been accused of failing to commit to expanding protected bike lanes. In less than a month alone, three bicyclists have died on Chicago streets as a result.
From 2012-2018, Chicago has had an average of 5.5 bicyclist deaths each year. During that time frame, city officials have been working to build and upgrade more than 116 square miles of bike lanes. By 2015, however, the city's efforts have slowed down.
In comparison, San Francisco is 20 percent of the size of Chicago, yet it has just as many protected bike lanes. The Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area is only a fraction of the size of Chicago, yet it has nearly twice as many protected bike lanes.
Bike lane obstructions that endanger bicyclists
The lack of protected bike lanes isn't Chicago's only problem. Drivers often park their cars and business vehicles in protected bike lanes, which creates an obstruction. When this happens, bicyclists are forced to swerve into the path of cars.
In 2016, bicyclist activist Christina Whitehouse started an initiative dubbed Bike Lane Uprising. The website allows users to report any obstructions they identify in protected bike lanes. According to Whitehouse, these obstructions increase the risk of "injury and road rage incidents."
Whitehouse is urging city officials to crack down on people who park their cars in protected bike lanes. Repeat offenders often include ride-share companies, taxis, and businesses located adjacent to protected bike lanes. According to Whitehouse, they account for 45 percent of violators in 2018.
In 2018 alone, approximately 5,461 bike lane obstructions were reported, which Whitehouse calls "only a fraction of what occurs."
Approximately 3,946 tickets were issued in 2018 for obstructing bike lanes. Bicyclist advocates, however, don't believe that writing tickets, alone, is effective enough to prevent drivers from parking in protected bike lanes.
What should I do if I'm hurt in a bicycle crash due to an obstruction?
If you were hurt in a crash because you either collided with a parked car or were forced to swerve into traffic, you may be able to take legal action. The bike crash attorneys at Keating Law Offices know the dangers Chicago bicyclists face each day, because we're bicyclists, too.
Bicyclists have just as much right to access the roadway as motorists. That's why our legal team is dedicated to holding negligent drivers accountable for their actions. To find out how we can help you build a strong legal claim and maximize your compensation, contact us online and schedule your free consultation today.