Share The Road With Cyclists and Pedestrians
As we begin to put cold weather in our rearview mirror, Chicagoans are being reminded that warmer temps mean more pedestrians and bicyclists will be out and about — and we all need to do our part to "Share the Road" to keep all users of the roadways safe.
There is an old expression that "streets are for people not for cars." This does not mean that motor vehicles should not be on the road, but that all users of the roadways need to keep in mind that there are all kinds of different users of the roadways. At any given time in Chicago, you could encounter a car, a truck, a bicycle, and an electric scooter all at the same time. Each of these types of users of the roadways have different vehicles but a shared responsibility to keep everyone safe and to follow the Illinois rules of the road.
Keep in mind that pedestrians and bicyclists are confronted with different safety challenges than motorists because they are smaller, less visible, and have little to no protection in a crash when compared to those inside an enclosed passenger vehicle equipped with seatbelts and other safety features.
It's also important to realize that people riding bicycles have the same rights as other drivers, and we all need to respect those rights to avoid causing a devastating bicycle crash that results in severe injury and/or death.
Here's what you should know...
Sharing The Road With Bicyclists
The famous German architect who designed Chicago's state government building recently died in an Illinois bicycle crash about 55 miles west of Chicago near the Fox Valley. Helmut Jahn, 81, died on May 8, 2021, in a tragic crash when two vehicles collided with the bicycle he was riding. This tragic event has re-ignited the issues that surround bicycle safety and the Illinois bicycle laws.
For drivers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers these 7 tips:
- Always look for bicyclists where vehicles do not appear, especially when making a left turn at an intersection.
- Be mindful that bicyclists may have to slow down or weave to avoid potholes, bumps, and other road hazards.
- Yield to bicyclists as you would motorists and don't misjudge the speed that they're going.
- When turning right on red, be aware of bicyclists that may be approaching from the right rear of your vehicle and look left-right-left before making your turn.
- Be on the lookout for bicyclists in parking lots, at stop signs, at intersections, and when pulling out of a driveway.
- Don't speed or go too fast for the road conditions (drive defensively).
- Give bicycle riders room (e.g., don't pass them too closely).
Sharing The Road With Pedestrians
Did you know that in 2019 a pedestrian died every 85 minutes in a traffic crash? Across the U.S., more than 6,200 people were killed in pedestrian crashes that year — and it's a problem that continues to plague Chicago and other cities throughout the country.
One of the most important pieces of advice drivers can learn to avoid a collision with a pedestrian is that pedestrians have a right to the road too. As such, you should always reduce your speed and be prepared to stop for pedestrians when you're approaching a crosswalk, school zone, or neighborhood. As of 2010, Illinois drivers must come to a complete stop for pedestrians in all crosswalks. The previous law in Illinois required drivers to only yield and stop when necessary. This change in the law, now over a decade old, was made to make the rule in Illinois absolutely clear: stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.
Drivers should also:
- Never go around a vehicle that's stopped at a crosswalk because there may be pedestrians crossing that aren't visible from your vantage point.
- Be mindful that pedestrians are everywhere and you need to stay alert while you're driving.
- Use extra caution when backing up, especially near sidewalks and in parking lots.
- Be very careful when driving during periods of low visibility, such as at night or in bad weather like rain, fog, or snow.
- When yielding to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, stop well before the crosswalk to give other motorists a chance to see the person crossing the road.
- Do not drive drunk or under the influence of drugs.
- Do not speed, and go slower in school zones and neighborhoods where children are likely to be present.
- Never text while driving and always stay focused on the road ahead.
Hold Negligent Drivers Accountable With Keating Law Offices
Combined, there were over 7,000 deaths in 2019 from traffic crashes involving bicycles and pedestrians, which means it's fair to say that collectively we need to do a better job of sharing the road with others.
Unfortunately, there will always be reckless drivers who don't get the message and throw caution to the wind when getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.
If you or someone you love got hit by a car in the Chicago area due to a driver's negligence — either as a pedestrian or as a bicyclist — you have recourse under Illinois law to pursue compensation from the at-fault party to cover the cost of your damages.
At Keating Law Offices, P.C., our knowledgeable and experienced lawyers have earned a reputation in Chicago and throughout Illinois as aggressive advocates for injured bicyclists and pedestrians.
In fact, attorney Michael Keating is widely considered the leading authority on bicycle law in Illinois and has been interviewed on many major TV networks and in numerous large newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
Don't let the insurance company for the at-fault driver downplay, dispute, or deny your claim. Let our attorneys handle everything so we can fight for the compensation you need and deserve.