Two recent studies have shed light on the bike-friendliness of cities across the country, and unfortunately, Chicago finds itself ranked lower than many other major metropolitan areas. In fact, one of these studies ranked Chicago 50th in terms of "bikeability."
Is Chicago Safe for Cyclists?
"Chicago has work to do to make its city streets more friendly to cyclists," says a news story by NBC Chicago about the two recent nationwide bike-friendly studies.
At Keating Law Offices, P.C., our bicycle accident lawyers are cycling enthusiasts who understand the importance of making Chicago's streets bike-friendly. Unfortunately, negligent drivers and roadways that aren't designed for all users can put cyclists at risk. If you've been injured in a bicycle accident due to someone else's negligence, our dedicated legal team is here to fight for the financial compensation and justice you deserve.
Chicago Receives Low Score For 'Best Places to Bike'
One of the nationwide bikeability studies cited by NBC Chicago was the annual report conducted by People For Bikes concerning the "Best Places To Bike" nationwide. In the study, Chicago was ranked relatively low compared to other cities nationwide based on the city's "speed limits, protected bike lanes, and grid connections."
"It's good that People For Bikes highlights that we need to lower our speed limit and we need a connected, protected citywide network of bike lanes," said John Greenfield, co-founder of My Streetsblog Chicago, per NBC Chicago. "Wherever you live in the city, you should be able to ride where you need to go."
What Makes a City Bike-Friendly?
The other bike-friendly study, as cited by NBC Chicago, was conducted by Clever, a website that ranked Chicago 20th out of 50 large cities nationwide for its bike-friendliness. The Clever study was based on 15 different factors, such as:
- The number of bike trails per 100,000 residents.
- The incidents of fatal bicycle accidents involving cyclists in 2021.
- The number of bicycle shops within the city.
- The presence of bike-share docking stations throughout Chicago.
Notably, Chicago experienced a high number of fatal bicycle accidents in 2021. During that year, 23 cyclists died in bicycle accidents in Cook County, which includes Chicago, as reported by bicycle accident data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This figure surpasses the number of fatal bicycle accidents in a single year in Cook County, IL, for the past five years, marking an alarming upward trend in cyclist fatalities.
How Can Cycling Be Made Safer in Chicago?
Both bicycle-friendly studies and the Chicago Department of Transportation have put forward numerous recommendations to enhance cyclist safety within the city. Additionally, the Chicago Department of Transportation, as part of Chicago's cycling strategic plan, has proposed several measures, including:
- Reducing Chicago's speed limit on most city streets from 30 mph to 25 mph.
- Expanding the network of protected bike lanes throughout Chicago.
- Establishing a continuous grid of low-stress bike routes connecting various neighborhoods.
According to the 2023 Chicago Cycling Strategic Plan, which places a strong emphasis on the creation of more protected bike lanes in Chicago, "The Chicago Cycling Strategy represents an equitable and efficient approach to implementing a cycling system that better serves everyone." These initiatives collectively demonstrate a commitment to making Chicago safer and more cyclist-friendly.
Common Causes of Chicago Bicycle Accidents
Bicycle accidents caused by drivers who either hit cyclists or force them to crash often stem from the driver engaging in reckless or negligent behaviors, such as:
- Distracted Driving: When drivers use their smartphones, eat, adjust the radio, or engage in any activity that diverts their attention away from driving, they are at an increased risk of colliding with cyclists.
- Speeding: Excessive speed reduces a driver's reaction time and increases the severity of collisions. Speeding drivers may not have sufficient time to avoid a cyclist or yield the right of way.
- Failure to Yield: Drivers who disregard traffic signals and stop signs or fail to yield the right of way to cyclists at intersections can cause serious accidents.
- Impaired Driving: Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs severely impairs a driver's judgment, coordination, and reaction time, making them more likely to hit cyclists.
- Aggressive Driving: Aggressive behaviors such as tailgating, road rage, or weaving in and out of traffic can put cyclists at significant risk.
- Ignoring Bike Lanes: Motorists who use designated bike lanes for parking or driving can force cyclists into traffic, leading to dangerous situations.
- Opening Car Doors Unsafely: Drivers or passengers opening car doors without checking for approaching cyclists can cause "dooring" accidents.
- Failure to Check Blind Spots: Drivers who do not properly check their blind spots when changing lanes may collide with cyclists in their path.
These behaviors not only endanger the lives of cyclists but also have legal consequences. If you've been involved in a Chicago bicycle accident caused by a negligent driver, it's crucial to seek help from an experienced attorney to protect your rights and pursue compensation for your injuries and damages.
Our Attorneys Fight for Injured Chicago Cyclists
Bicycle accident claims can be complicated. Insurance companies often use tactics to minimize their financial responsibility, including blaming the cyclist, downplaying injuries, questioning medical treatment, or disputing the cause of injuries. They may also use intentional delays, excessive paperwork requests, or lowball settlement offers to discourage cyclists from pursuing full compensation—just so they can protect their bottom line.
When you or someone you love has been injured due to negligence, seeking experienced legal representation is crucial. At Keating Law Offices, P.C., our dedicated bicycle accident attorneys are here to help. Led by Attorney Michael Keating, chair of the Bicycle Litigation Group for the American Association for Justice, we will prioritize your interests and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Contact us and schedule a free consultation with a law firm that knows how to get results for injured cyclists. We have two Chicago locations and can meet with you right away to answer any legal questions you might have about your potential injury claim or lawsuit.