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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Looking Back At Chicago's Biggest Bicycling Stories Of 2011

Once again it's time for the obligatory end of the year round-up of the top cycling stories of 2011 in the Chicago area.  It must be noted that there were several reported serious injuries and deaths of cyclists in Illinois this year. Of course, any one of those is the biggest story of the year.  That grim point duly noted and respectfully put to the side, here are the top five stories of the past year:

5.  Bicyclists were banned from texting and other mobile phone usage by the Chicago City Council in early October.  This was something of a no-brainer really.  No one using the roadway, neither motorists nor cyclists, should be focused on anything but, well, the road.  Yet, there was something that felt odd about the passage of this ordinance.  Sure, some bicyclists text while riding, but it never seemed like a problem widespread or serious enough to warrant the attention of the City Council.  Other cities even seemed interested in the ban.  I received a call out of the blue from a reporter at The Washington Times requesting a few words about what I thought about the new ban.  The Washington Times?  The passage of the ordinance and the interest in it from odd corners of the country struck me as sour grapes against bicyclists who have elbowed their way into a share of the road over the past few years.  My sense is that motorists are also sick of being told that much of what they do behind the wheel is wrong:  texting, talking, nail painting; even getting behind the wheel at all.  The ordinance felt like a bit of push back from motorists toward what some perceive is the snugness of we health conscious, no emissions producing, lycra/skinny jeans wearing, skip-to-the-head-of-the-traffic-line bicyclists.

4.  Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill into law that, as of January 1, 2012, will permit bicyclists to proceed through traffic signals that fail to turn from red to green.  The new law will only apply outside of Chicago.  Cyclists will need to come to a complete stop at red lights, but will be permitted to pedal through after waiting a "reasonable period of time" for the light to change and only when the coast is clear.  This is important.  Why?  Because Illinois lawmakers seem finally to be taking into account how real bicyclists ride in the real world.  My assumption is that Illinois cyclists probably were not waiting for faulty lights to turn, sitting idly for long stretches with no cars in sight before traversing uncontested intersections.  But, before the new law goes into effect, failure to do so would be illegal.  Criminalizing how real bicyclists behave is bad for cycling.  It reinforces the notion that bicyclists are social mavericks, rather than regular people trying to get from one place to another, or getting in a bit of exercise.  The new law is a step in the right direction toward considering the road from the bicyclist's point of view.


3.  So many of the bicyclists whom I represent have been injured by motorists carelessly throwing their doors open without looking.  These "dooring" incidents are a serious problem in our city.  In April, the State of Illinois for the first time began tracking such incidents by requiring local police departments to note them on traffic crash reports.  The collection of information about where doorings happen and how often they occur is no mere academic exercise.  Addressing the issue -- with either infrastructure changes or law enforcement initiatives -- requires state and/or federal funding; money that cannot be acquired without data.  Therefore, this rule change is a big step toward reducing these dangerous incidents.


2.  In June there was a seachange in how bicyclists saw Chicago and how Chicago saw us with the opening of the city's first ever protected bicycle lane along Kinzie Street between Milwaukee Avenue and Wells.  Now, bicyclists could experience riding into and from downtown without fear of encroachment into their space by motor vehicles.  The effort seems to be a whopping success.  I have ridden the Kinzie lane a lot, and it is great.  Aside from being protected from vehicle encroachment and doorings, the lane just feels welcoming.  The first few times I rode it I felt like I finally had a space where my bike and I belonged, rather than a patch of rode I constantly had to fight for.  Many other bicyclists seem to have agreed.  By my observation, even in bad weather the lane is well used.  But what really made this such a big deal in 2011 is that it was only the beginning of a new attitude, and a new infrastructure.  The Kinzie Street bike lane was followed by protected bicycle lanes along Jackson Boulevard and 18th Street.  Mayor Rahm Emanuel has promised 100 miles of protected bike lanes during his first four years in office.  So far his administration is well underway toward satisfying that ambitious goal.


1.   “I am a bike enthusiast — somebody who likes biking myself. But, my principle enthusiasm [is] I want Chicago to be the bike-friendliest city in the country.”  That was what Chicago's new mayor, Rahm Emanuel, had to said when he presided over the opening of the city's first protected bike lane.  His taking office in May was without a doubt Chicago's biggest cycling story of the year.  What Mayor Richard Daley started, Rahm Emanuel has committed to taking much further, making Chicago a truly bicycle friendly city.  His appointment of Gabe Klein as Transportation Commissioner, who led a bicycle safety initiative in Washington D.C., demonstrated a commitment to changing our infrastructure in a way that benefits all Chicagoans.  Making our city truly bike friendly encourages more people to ride our streets, reducing motor vehicle congestion.   This promises to make riding, walking and plain living in the city better.  Reduced congestion is also better for motorists by increasing drive times and the overall hassle of getting around.  From the bicyclist's perspective Mayor Emanuel's first year has been a good one.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Dane Does Not Think Bicyclists Should Wear Helmets

Here's a video from Mikael-Colville Andersen on why we should not wear helmets to bike.  I am a firm believer that you should wear a helmet to ride.  While there is certainly a sizable minority that disagrees with me, most folks, including potential jurors, feel that the prudent course is to wear one.  Certainly, no one will hold it against you if you do.

The bottom line is this:  Riding in the city is dangerous, period.  So wear a helmet.  However, it is not so dangerous that you should avoid riding all together.  The middle path people; take the middle path.

The video is via Momentum Magazine, via Urban Velo.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

U.S. Postal Service Semi Crushes UIC Student's Foot

Courtesy ABC News
A United States Postal Service semi trailer ran over and crushed the foot of a 22 year old female bicyclist on July 13, 2011.  My law firm is representing the injured bicyclist, a student at the University of Illinois Chicago.  The incident occurred at around 6:15 p.m. on a pleasant summer evening at the intersection of West Taylor Street and the 90/94 westbound entrance ramp.  The bicyclist was riding along the right side of the roadway on westbound Taylor Street one her way home from the lake front's 12th Street Beach.  The postal truck was also traveling westbound.  The cyclist saw the truck put on its right turn signal so she came to a stop along the curb.  As she stood there, the truck made an exceptionally sharp right turn, the tires of the rear bed actually coming up onto the curb.  At the same time, a part of the truck bed grasped a part of the bike, dragging it and the rider around to the right several feet.  When the bicyclist came unattached from the truck its wheels ran over her left foot, crushing it.  The bicyclist was rushed via ambulance to the nearby UIC Medical Center.

My firm will be pursuing legal action against the USPS via the Federal Tort Claims Act, filing the necessary Form 95 as quickly as possible.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Reforms Coming To Chicago's Taxi Industry Good For Bicyclists

If my own experience representing bicyclists in injury claims is any indication, taxi cabs cause a lot of accidents.  It almost seems like taxi drivers go out of their way to find bikes to crash into.  I advise cyclists to treat taxis on the road as if they are loaded with explosives about to go off.  When you see a cab while riding give it the widest possible berth.

I welcome Mayor Rahm Emanuel's announcement yesterday of new reforms coming to Chicago's taxi industry.  These important changes are to include, "real-time monitoring of traffic tickets given to cabbies and limiting drivers to no more than 12 hours of driving each day," according to The Chicago Tribune.  There is to be greater and faster monitoring of taxi cab moving violations and an increased emphasis on getting dangerous cab drivers off the streets.  Read more here.

Last Week In Chicago. . .

This was what I saw after walking out of the Secretary of State's office last week:


2012 is going to be an exciting year for my law firm and for the The Chicago Bicycle Advocate blog.  Stay tuned. . .

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Illinois To Begin Production Of "Share The Road" License Plates

Finally at least 1500 Illinoisans have reserved "Share the Road" license plates.  Production can now begin on these plates which promote bicycling awareness.  Due to what the League of Illinois Bicyclists calls, "a lengthy design approval and production process," it is projected that these plates with hit the back end of cars in five to six months.  Thanks to all who ordered one.  If you haven't yet, please do so.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Chicago Police On the Trail of 8 Year Old Bicyclist's Killer

Lakeith Morgan
Eight year old Mariela Crisostomo was struck so hard by an SUV while she rode her bicycle back on June 14th that horrified witnesses saw her propelled underneath a parked car near her Chicago Lawn home.  The driver sped away, not stopping to give aid or assistance.  Mariela died of her injuries about 12 hours later.  Now, Chicago police remain on the driver's trail and are looking for Lakeith Morgan, 23, in connection with the incident, according to The Chicago Tribune.

The Tribune reports, "Morgan is black and stands about 5-foot-9 and weighs 160 pounds.  His last known address is in the 3000 block of West 64th Street, just blocks from the site of the collision."  Anyone with information about Mr. Morgan's whereabouts should call Police Major Accident Investigation at 312.745.4521.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

58 Year Old Male Bicyclist Killed By Truck In Champaign

Peterbilt 330
A 58 year old man was killed on Tuesday evening after being struck by a large truck while riding his bicycle in Champaign.  Michael J. Costa III was killed at the intersection of Market Street and Anthony Drive by a 2005 Peterbilt 330 truck being driven by Thomas Pelmore, 63, according to The News-Gazette.  Mr. Costa was "semi-responsive" at the scene, but was pronounced dead about 45 minutes later at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana.  It is not clear how the accident occurred, or even in which direction Mr. Costa had been traveling prior to impact.  The Champaign County Coroner, Duane Northup, speculated that, "The driver of the vehicle may not have seen him.  It was dark."  The News-Gazette reported that officers at the scene described the bicycle as "smashed and heavily damaged on the front end."  The driver of the truck was not ticketed.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Settlement For Bicyclist Injured When Passengers Exit Taxi Into Chicago Bike Lane

A substantial financial settlement has been reached by our law firm on behalf of a bicyclist doored when a taxi cab driver allowed his passengers to disembark into a dedicated bicycle lane at the 2400 block of North Lincoln Avenue in Chicago on March 17, 2011.  The 40 year old cyclist was traveling southbound in the bike lane when passengers suddenly emerged from the taxi, which had stopped in southbound traffic.  Unlike the typical dooring incident, the bicyclist in this case was doored from the left rather than the right side.  The bicyclist had been wearing a helmet and his bicycle was equipped with lights.  He was treated for a sprained knee and left hand fracture.

Taxi cab drivers owe a duty of reasonable care to roadway users in the location and manner in which their passengers are permitted to exit the vehicle.  This duty extends to bicyclists, permitted users of Chicago streets

Monday, November 21, 2011

Florida Bicyclist Victim of Turning Fire Truck, Orlando Sentinel

Sadly, cyclists are killed almost daily all around the country.  I generally focus on incidents in Chicago and around Illinois.  Unfortunately, there are enough of those to keep me busy.  So I ordinarily would not pay much attention to a story about a bicyclist killed in Florida.  However, I found the coverage of this sad story by the Orlando Sentinel frustrating so I want to comment about it.

Cullen Detamore, 18 years old and the father of a toddler son, was killed on October 24th when he was run over by a right turning fire truck while riding his bicycle.  Mr. Detamore, "Was riding his bike next to the fire truck traveling southbound on Lakemont Avenue, when the truck went to make a right turn," according to a local television station.  He was killed when he was run over by the rear wheels of the truck.  It seemed that Mr. Detamore was the victim of a driver who turned right without looking in his right rear view mirror for bicyclists.  If Mr. Detamore was riding along side the large vehicle when it began its turn he possibly had little time to stop or veer out of the way.  Rather than considering the truck driver's failure to look to his right before turning as the cause of this incident, the Orlando Sentinel focused its coverage on the fact that Mr. Detamore was riding that mechanism of mayhem, a fixed gear bicycle.  The paper's headline read, Bicyclist Killed By Fire Engire Was Riding Illegally On Bike With No Brakes.   Quoting a law enforcement spokesperson the paper stated, "Cullen Detamore was riding a baby-blue racing bicycle designed for indoor tracks. . .  The only way to stop on such bicycles is to 'put your feet down or fall over' -- which is why the law requires bicycles ridden on roadways to have working brakes."    Further along in the story is considerable mention of how upsetting the event was for fire department personnel.  Only passing reference was made of the child Mr. Detamore left behind.  There was no reference to whether he was married, or how upsetting his death was for his family and friends.


An illegal bike?  This young man must have had a death wish, right?  Of course not.  If Mr. Detamore was riding a "bicycle designed for indoor tracks" then it had a fixed gear drive train.  That means, assuming he was riding with a sensible gear ratio (more on that later), he was riding with a braking system entirely compliant with Florida law which states:
Every bicycle must be equipped with a brake orbrakes that allow the rider to stop within 25 feet froma speed of 10 mph on dry, level, clean pavement[§316.2065(14)].
Fixed gear bikes do not have freewheels so the rider cannot coast. Instead, the bike's rear cog is fixed to the rear wheel so that if the rear wheel is spinning so is the cog. When the bike is moving, either forwards or backwards, the chain is turning, the pedals are spinning and the rider's legs are working.  The bicycle's drive train, consisting of the fixed rear cog, chain, cranks, pedals and the rider's legs, act as a braking system, one that works better than the uninitiated may think. It is quite possible, and in fact common, to quickly stop pedaling, locking up the rear wheel and bringing the bike to a complete skidding stop.  A fixed gear bicycle is entirely compliant with Florida's (and Illinois') law regarding bike brakes.  The reasonableness of riding with a fixed gear braking system is not as controversial was one might think.  At least one U.S. jurisdiction rewrote its vehicular law to accommodate fixed gear bicycle riders. Amended in July, 2006 Washington D.C.'s vehicle code states:
Each bicycle shall be equipped with a brake which enables the operator to cause the braked wheels to skid on dry, level, clean pavement; provided, that a fixed gear bicycle is not required to have a separate brake, but an operator of a fixed gear bicycle shall be able to stop the bicycle using the pedals.18 DCMR 1204.1
Not only was Mr. Detamore's bike likely compliant with Florida law, his ability to brake or not brake may have had nothing to do with his death.  As noted above, according to at least one account, he was riding along side the fire truck when the vehicle turned.  It is not clear whether the truck utilized its turn signal, or how quickly it initiated its turn.  The bicyclist may have had little reason to anticipate that the truck was about to turn in front of him.  He may not have been able to stop in time to avoid the collision no matter what sort of braking system his bike was equipped with.  Unfortunately, none of this is mentioned in the Sentinel's article.

In my opinion, fixed gear bikes are legal. . . usually.  Stopping one of these bikes is not exceptionally difficult.  (Even this 40 something year old lawyer can do it.)  But it takes some practice before the novice rider gets the hang of it.  It feels weird at first and the rider must remember to use his or her legs to stop.  Also, the bike's gear ratio must be considered.  Some gear ratios will make it nearly impossible to bring the bike to a quick stop.    For example, a front chainring with 53 teeth and a rear cog with 13 teeth is going to be almost impossible to bring to a skid stop.  It is way too efficient.  Much of the energy exerted to the cranks is transmitted to the rear cog and wheel.  On the other hand, riding with a gear ratio of 46/18 will make it much, much easier to accelerate and stop.  And let's be clear, if you cannot successfully bring your fixed gear bike to a skid stop then, unless you have an additional braking system on the bike, you are not in compliance with a statute like the one in Florida, and in Illinois.  But riding a fixed gear bike does not necessary make the cyclist a reckless scafflaw.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Urban Bicyclists May Finally Get A Witness

Fort Tree Bikes
Can I get a witness?! Well, yes.  Cycling accessory manufacturer Cat Eye has come up with a handlebar mountable video and still camera, dubbed the "Inou", that can be used to record and track your ride.  While other manufacturers have created similar devices there are a couple of things I really like about this one.  First, it can take both video and still photos automatically at intervals that you can choose.  Secondly, it has a GPS tracking device built in and records your location throughout your ride.  You can view your route after your ride by logging onto the integrated computer application Cat Eye has created for the device.  Thirdly, the Inou detaches from the included handlebar mount quickly and easily, just like a typical headlight.  This feature is a must for urban bicyclists who would have to take the device with them after locking up.  Finally, the Inou is pretty small and non-obtrusive, again making it practical to use daily in the urban setting.

One of the biggest challenges in representing bicyclists in litigation against motorists is finding a witness.  The motorist and the bicyclist rarely seem to agree on how a crash occurred.  Since the victim has the burden of proof in personal injury litigation, if a witness cannot be found to support the bicyclist's version of events the case may be a lost cause.  A handlebar mounted camera could, in many circumstances, tip the scales in the bicyclist's favor by revealing exactly what happened.  Dooring incidents and intersection crashes could be documented by a front facing camera.  Other "action cameras" I've seen are good, but frankly impractical for daily city use.  They've tended to be too big, too bulky and too difficult to take with you.  Cat Eye may have come up with a viable option that could help the city cyclist protect his or her rights in the event of an accident.

I have not used the Inou myself, but I would certainly love to hear from anyone who has to learn whether the device actually lives up to its promise.  Below is a video from Interbike 2010 demonstrating some of the Inou's features:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chicago Bicyclist Struck By Semi To Undergo Pelvic Reconstruction, Battling Infection

The female bicyclist struck by a semi tractor trailer on Friday afternoon is fighting infection and is to undergo surgery to repair a shattered pelvis at Loyola University Medical Center, according to a reader of this blog who contacted me last night via email.  The bicyclist, Terri Cenar, was struck at around 1:45 p.m. on November 4th and initially taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital.  No details have been reported regarding the cause of this incident.  Prayers for her recovery have been requested.

Poking around online revealed Ms. Cenar to be an avid cyclist and frequent bike commuter.  She is a current or former fitness instructor.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Bicycle Seriously Injured By Semi On Near Northside

A semi tractor trailer struck and seriously injured a female bicyclist near Chicago Avenue and LaSalle Street on Friday afternoon, November 4th.  The women was reportedly taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital following the collision.  The incident occurred at around 1:45 p.m.  No information is presently available regarding the cause of the crash or how the victim fared over the weekend.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cab Driver's Failure To Use Caution Dropping Off Passenger Causes Cyclist's Injury

Chicago taxicab drivers must exercise caution when dropping off passengers.  Passengers should be permitted to disembark only where it is reasonably safe to do so.  That usually means pulling to the curb. Stopping so as to give a passenger the option of either exiting the cab into moving motor vehicle traffic, or into a busy bicycle lane is negligence on the part of the driver.  Once again a cab driver's poor decision as to where to drop off a passenger has resulted in injury to a bicyclist.  Our law firm is representing the cyclist.  On Halloween evening at around 7:30 p.m. a 35 year old female cyclist was injured when a southbound taxi cab on Wells Street, about a half a block south of North Avenue, dropped off his passenger into a dedicated bicycle lane.  In this instance, the right wheels of the taxi encroached into the bike lane, an ordinance violation.  When the passenger opened the right rear door it struck the left hand of the bicyclist causing severe finger tendon laceration requiring eight stitches.  It is not yet clear whether surgery will be necessary to restore full function to the finger and hand.

The bicyclist would have been easily visible.  Her bike was equipped with operating lights and she was wearing light colored clothing at the time of the incident.  She was wearing a helmet and did not sustain a head injury.

Wells Street at the location of this incident has one southbound and one northbound lane.  Cab drivers on this and similar roadways simply cannot provide their passengers with two unsafe options of exiting and simply hope nothing bad happens.  In such instances, the passenger is offered the option of either exiting on the left of the cab and into moving motorized traffic, or on the right into a busy bicycle lane.  This is negligence plain and simple.  Cab drivers must drop off passengers in a reasonably safe place so as to avoid putting either the passenger or other roadway users at risk.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Trek Announces Recall Over Seat Clamp Bolt Failure

A seat clamp bolt that may be prone to break has lead Trek Bicycles and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to announce the recall of some 27,000 Trek bikes.  The recall pertains to 2012 models which have exhibited hydrogen embrittlement in the bolt that secures the seat to the seat post and which has caused the bolt to break in some incidents.  In at least one incident, the failure of the bolt has led to a broken tooth and lip injury.  If you own one of these bikes contact an authorized Trek dealer for a free replacement bolt.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bicyclist Presumed Dead After Incident At Western Avenue & Logan Boulevard

A bicyclist is presumed dead after a serious incident occurring at the intersection of Western Avenue and Logan Boulevard on Chicago's north side Saturday morning.  Witnesses on the Chainlink forum have described seeing a mangled bicycle at the scene and a motionless body laying in the road covered by a coat or blanket.  Two cars at the scene appeared to have rear-ended each other.  It is not clear how the incident occurred.  There has been no coverage of this event by media outlets.

It is worth noting that the intersection involved is heavily trafficked by bikes and motor vehicles and is well-known to be exceptionally dangerous.  A ghost bike memorializing the death of Tyler Fabeck is located at the intersection.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Republicans and Democrats Agree, Bikes Are Cool

Ever wonder why some members of Congress wear little bicycle pins on their lapels?  Yeah, me neither.  But it turns out that many do because they are members of something called the Congressional Bike Caucus.  Launched by Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon (surprise, surprise) after first being elected to Congress in 1996, the Caucus now includes more than 160 members from both political parties, representing all parts of the nation.  Initially the Caucus started as an informal group meant to provide an outlet for members of Congress and their staffs who were into cycling to get together and ride.  Since then, however, it has come to provide, "Congressional leadership" in efforts to promote "policies that aim to integrate bicycling as an attractive transportation and recreational alternative."  Their are ten members of the Caucus from Illinois:  Jerry Costello (D), Danny K. Davis (D), Luis V. Gutierrez (D), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D), Timothy V. Johnson (R), Daniel Lipinski (D), Don Manzullo (R), Peter Roskam (R), Janice Schakowsky (D) and John Shimkus (R).  Senator Richard Durbin (D) is a member of the Senate Bike Caucus.

During this prolonged period of political acrimony it is nice to know that there is something Republicans and Democrats can agree upon; bikes are cool and more people should be encouraged to ride.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bicycle Texting Ban In Place, But What About Enforcement?

Two weeks ago the Chicago City Council approved without dissent a ban on texting and talking on the phone while bicycling.  Penalties for doing so increase with the number of offenses.  As I told the Washington Times recently, it would be hard for any sane person to be against such an obvious no-no.  That point noted, I hope that the ordinance will not be used by police to harass bicyclists on Chicago roads.  Here's hoping also that the CPD is just as aggressive citing motor vehicle drivers for using their cell phones as they are citing cyclists.  Fingers crossed.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Female Bicyclist Suffers Ruptured Spleen Following Crash With Van On Milwaukee Avenue

A female bicyclist suffered a ruptured spleen after being struck by a 2005 Ford Econoline van at the intersection of North Milwaukee Avenue and North Ogden Avenue in Chicago on August 22nd.  The crash occurred at around 8:00 a.m. as the 24 year old cyclist was on her way to work.  The bicyclist was riding southbound in the bike lane on Milwaukee when she was suddenly "t-boned" by the left turning van.  Both vehicles had a green light, but under Illinois law the straight-ahead cyclist had the right of way at the time of the crash.  Immediately following the crash she was taken to Rush University Medical Center via ambulance.  She remains in treatment.  Our law firm is representing the bicyclist.

Twenty-Five Year Old Bicyclist Recovering From Head Injury

A twenty-five year old male bicyclist was rendered unconscious after being struck by a 1997 Dodge Dakota at around 6 p.m. on September 21st at the intersection of North Elston Avenue and West Gunnison Avenue in Chicago.  The bicyclist was riding through the t-intersection when he suddenly heard a revving engine then saw the vehicle coming at him.  According to witnesses, the impact propelled him onto the vehicle's windshield before he was thrown to the ground.  Numerous photographs of the crash site showing the cyclist laying in the street with blood covering his face have been acquired thanks to a witness who posted them online.  Our law firm is representing the bicyclist against the driver of the vehicle.  The bicyclist continues to undergo treatment for facial scarring and possible cognitive deficits due to head trauma.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Avid 81 Year Old Bicyclist Killed By CTA Bus

Heart and legs pumping, at age 81 Lane Swanson, an avid cyclist, was pedaling in the bike lane on Dodge Avenue at around 10:15 a.m. on September 12th when a CTA bus collided with him.  He was pronounced dead the following afternoon at St. Francis Hospital having suffered a head injury.  TribLocal reporter, Jonathan Bullington, reports that the force of the collision cracked Mr. Swanson's bike helmet.

The cause of the accident is not entirely clear.  According to the Tribune report, Mr. Swanson was riding in the designated bike lane when he was passed by the bus.  Allegedly, a witness saw the cyclist swerve into the right side of the bus as it passed.  The vantage point of the witness has not been reported.  If he did swerve, it is not clear whether he was attempting to avoid an obstacle in the bike lane.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

UIC Student, Bicyclist Struck By Motorist

A UIC student was struck by the driver of a 1999 Mercury Mystique at the intersection of Leavitt Street and Warren Boulevard while riding her bicycle on August 31st suffering three fracture vertebrae.  The female bicyclist was hit at around 9:45 a.m. as she was on her way to school traveling southbound on Leavitt.  She was struck from behind as she slowed to wait for a northbound vehicle to pass so she could turn left onto Warren Boulevard.  The impact threw her from her bike and into the intersection where she struck her lower back, pelvis, elbow and head on the pavement.  She was wearing a helmet.

An ambulance transported her to Stroger Hospital for treatment.  She received additional treatment at UIC Medical Center.  She continues to receive medical care.  Our law firm has been retained to represent the bicyclist.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Chicago Bicycle Commuters On The Move

Here is an interesting chart from today's New York Times depicting the increase in bicycle commuting among a few major U.S. cities, including Chicago:


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Chicago Bicyclist Hit By Suzuki To Be Compensated

A female bicyclist injured on April 26, 2011 when a motorist crashed into her as she rode along West Division Street, just east of Wells Street, will receive the full amount of available insurance as compensation for her injuries.  Our firm represented the cyclist in her claim against the driver and his insurer.  The bicyclist was riding along the right side of the roadway, her boyfriend on his bike a few feet ahead of her, just after 5:00 when a 2002 Suzuki Aerio suddenly merged into her from her left.  The impact sent the rider over her handlebars and onto the street where her helmeted head struck the pavement.

An ambulance transported her to Northwestern Memorial Hospital where she was treated for a fracture elbow.  Thankfully, CT scans of her brain revealed no significant head injury.  In the months since the incident she has achieved a full recovery.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bicyclist Remains On Ventilator, Driver Charged With Aggravated DUI For Madison Street Crash

Bicyclist, Frederick Johnson of the 3800 block of West Taylor Street, remains on a ventilator in critical condition after being struck by a motorist who flipped her car on Madison Street after striking a barrier on September 1st. The driver, Sheila B. Kane has been charged with aggravated driving under the influence causing great bodily harm and other charges, according to The Chicago Tribune.  She allegedly consumed six tall glasses of vodka and water at West End bar within two hours of getting behind the wheel of her 2008 Mercury Sable.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Car Flips and Strikes Bicyclist Near Chicago's United Center

A bicyclist was critically injured early this morning near the United Center when a motorist flipped her car over then crashed into the cyclist.  The incident occurred near the intersection of Madison Street and Hoyne Avenue. The Chicago Tribune and ABC News report that the driver appeared to have struck a roadway median causing the car to flip over and strike the bicyclist.  The driver was also injured.  Both the motorist and the bicyclist were taken to Stroger Hospital.  No names have been released.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bicyclist Killed In Pilsen Was A Gifted Musician; Driver Charged With Reckless Homicide, DUI

The bicyclist killed by a hit and run driver in Pilsen on Tuesday morning was 30 year old Fredrick Kobrick of the 1700 block of South Desplaines.  A reader of this blog informs me that Mr. Kobrick was a gifted artist involved with a music project "Geometric Temples."

The name of Mr. Kobrick's alleged killed has also been released.  38 year old Ignacio Ramirez, who initially fled the scene, has been charged with reckless homicide and aggravated DUI stemming from the incident.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bicyclist Killed By Hit and Run Driver In Pilsen

A 30 year old man was killed this morning in Pilsen when a motorist struck him as he rode his bicycle.  The bicyclist was riding near West 18th Street and South Carpenter Street just before 1:00 a.m. when he was struck.  He was on his way to meet friends when the driver allegedly veered into him, according to police.  The driver did not stop, but a suspect is in custody, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.  Neither the name of the bicyclist nor that of the driver have been published.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Six Year Old Bicyclist Killed By Backing Pickup

Six year old Ricardo Navarro was killed on Friday afternoon while riding his bicycle around the corner from his home near East 88th Street and South Buffalo Avenue, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.  The young boy sustained massive head injuries after the driver of a pickup truck, Jesus Alvarez, backed his vehicle up without properly looking for children.  He was cited for negligent driving by police at the scene.

Ricardo was often seen in the neighborhood riding his bike.  The driver lived just a few doors down from the boy's family.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Few Facts Revealed Regarding Crash Between Chicago Police Vehicle and 10 Year Old Bicyclist

A 10 year old child was taken to Loretto Hospital last night after sustaining injuries when he was involved in a crash with a police car while riding his bicycle, according to the Chicago Tribune.  The incident occurred at around 5 p.m. along the 5500 block of West Van Buren Street, a residential area close to Columbus Park.  Very few details of this incident have been reported.  Neither the extent of the child's injuries, nor how the crash occurred have so far been revealed.  Even the child's gender is apparently unknown to the media.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bicyclist Crushed By Dump Truck Was No Wobbly Rider

I.A.M. Wellness
The gruesome death of 25 year old Jacqueline Marie Michon is an especially vivid reminder of the dangers faced by even experienced bicyclists on our city's streets.  Miss Michon fell underneath a dump truck allegedly stopped at a red light at 227 North Wabash Avenue and was crushed to death after the light changed, according to the Chicago Tribune.  Reportedly, she rode her bike between a car stopped next to the truck then lost her balance.  Miss Michon was no wobbly newcomer to cycling.  She's been described as a passionate cyclist and was a spinning instructor.  Her other passions included hiking and rock climbing.  She grew up an avid swimmer and lacrosse player.  Miss Michon worked as a personal trainer.  In addition to spinning, she taught boot camp and kickboxing.

How or why she lost her balance on Friday night is not clear.  Speculating as to the cause of this tragedy would be foolish.  Riding in the city is dangerous, to note the obvious.  Streets designed to make cycling less dangerous will hopefully reduce the need to come so close to some of the behemoths that use our roadways.    This is already underway in Chicago; and not a moment too soon.

Monday, August 1, 2011

79 Year Old Bicyclist Struck and Killed By Motorist In Maywood

The driver of a motor vehicle turned himself in after striking and killing a 79 year old bicyclist in Maywood on Friday night.  The bicyclist, Harold Moore, was struck at the intersection of 9th Avenue and Fillmore Street in a quiet residential area just two blocks from his home at around 8 p.m.  It is not clear whether the driver initially left the scene, but the Chicago Tribune reports that he turned himself in at Loyola University Medical Center where the bicyclist was taken.  Mr. Moore was pronounced dead less than an hour after the collision.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

After A Bike Crash, Go To The Damn Hospital

I've been representing injured people for some 15 years and if anything drives me nuts it is when someone blows off going to the hospital after an accident.  This frustration was driven home last week when I read about the death of Francisco Moreno.  After he was struck by a van while riding his bicycle a trip to the hospital was delayed until he lost consciousness at home many hours after the incident.  One has to wonder if he would be live today if he had been taken to the hospital right after the crash.

Let me be succinct, if your are involved in a bicycle crash and some part of your body hurts, go to the damn hospital.  The seriousness of your injuries may not be immediately apparent.  After a crash your adrenaline may be flowing.  You may not be thinking straight, so just play it safe a get to the ER.  This is especially true if you even lightly hit your head, with or without a helmet.  If it turns out that you are fine, good.  Don't worry about wasting your time or anyone else's time.  Don't feel embarrassed.  Just do what has to be done to rule out a serious injury.

Aside from protecting your own health, seeking immediate medical care following a crash will help you or your attorney later if a claim or lawsuit arises from the incident.  Time and again I see insurance companies fail to take seriously a claim brought where the injured bicyclist did not seek treatment right away following a crash.  Their thinking is, how serious could the injury be if he/she didn't go to the hospital.  Insurance adjusters tend to be cynical people.  Delayed medical treatment tends to raise a red flag in the adjuster's mind:  Maybe we're being scammed.  Maybe the injury happened after the bike accident.  Don't give an insurance company any reason to be doubtful about your claim and the cause of your injuries.  Seek immediate medical treatment.

There are all sorts of reasons, in my experience, to explain why the bicyclist blows off a trip to the hospital after a crash.  Lack of medical insurance coverage is one big reason.  All I can say is cost is just something you'll have to worry about later.  Take care of yourself first.  A hospital ER will not turn you away for lack of insurance.  Also, most hospitals will work with you on a sensible payment plan if you cannot afford to pay the bill.  If you have a claim against an at fault driver, the hospital will lien your claim and your lawyer will help you make sure your bill is paid at the end of your case.  Whatever concerns or fears you might have about going to the hospital after a crash, remember Francisco Moreno.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Raw Video Of A Ride Along Chicago's New Kinzie Bicycle Lane

Courtesy of chainlinker, Travis Kluska, here is a video of a ride eastbound along Chicago's new Kinzie cycle track.  The video comes with warts:  Mr. Kluska runs numerous stop signs and the light at Kinzie and Milwaukee.  At one point another bicyclist briefly approaches him in the bike lane in the wrong direction.  But is video is honest.  I've ridden Kinzie several times now since completion of the new bike lane and the way it is ridden in the video is consistent with how I've seen the majority of bicyclists ride it.  The conditions it demonstrates are typical in my experience.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Logan Square Bicyclist Killed By Van

A 46 year old Logan Square bicyclist died this morning after being struck by a van.  After the collision the van allegedly fled the scene.  The Chicago Sun-Times reported this event but did not report the date of the collision.  The paper simply noted that it occurred at "2 p.m."

The cyclist, Francisco Moreno, was helped to his home after the crash.  He was later taken to Saints Mary and Elizabeth Medical Center by family members after he lost consciousness.  The location of the crash has not be reported.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Recumbent Bicyclist Struck By Motorist Along Lakefront Bicycle Path, Suffers Head Injury

A bicyclist on a recumbent suffered a head injury when she was struck by a motor vehicle as she crossed West Wilson Avenue along Chicago's lakefront bicycle path.  The crash occurred just before 1:00 p.m. on June 26th.  The bicyclist was traveling northbound on the path.  When she reached the intersection with Wilson Avenue she slowed when she saw a vehicle at the eastbound stop sign.  Bicycle traffic at that location is not required to stop or yield to motor vehicles and has the right of way.  The cyclist proceeded across Wilson.  As she approached the median dividing east and westbound traffic the car that had been stopped at the sign suddenly accelerated forward and crashed into her.  She was propelled from her recumbent bicycle up onto the car's hood, smashing the windshield with her helmeted head.  She was then thrown to the ground where she slid along the pavement before loosing consciousness.  She was taken via ambulance to Weiss Memorial Hospital where she received an extensive workup.

Our law firm is representing the bicyclist against the driver.  This is the second time within the last year that we have represented a bicyclist injured at West Wilson Avenue's intersection with the lakefront path.  The bicyclist continues to receive medical treatment.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Motorist Fails to Yield to Bicyclist In Oak Park, Rider Seriously Injured

A female bicyclist lays in intensive care with a serious head injury after being struck by a left turning motor vehicle in Oak Park at around 7:30 this morning. Apparently, the cyclist was riding westbound on Washington Boulevard when a motorist driving eastbound attempted to turn left onto Ridgeland Boulevard, crashing into the bicyclist. The Chicago Tribune reported this story but does not make it entirely clear whether the cyclist was on Washington or Ridgeland when she was struck.

Illinois law mandates that left turning motor vehicles yield to bicyclists approaching from the opposite direction. The driver was cited by police following this incident.

The name of the cyclist has not been reported. It seems that though serious her injuries are not life threatening.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chicago Bicyclists Are Not Barred From Using City Crosswalks

Katherine Hitt
Defense attorneys, insurance adjusters and even some well meaning bicycle advocates have suggested to me that  riding a bicycle in Chicago in a crosswalk is illegal.  It is not.  Neither local ordinance nor state statute prohibit riding a bicycle in a crosswalk.  The matter is not addressed at all in Chicago's municipal code.   In the Illinois Compiled Statutes, however, it is expressly permitted, with some caveats.  The state statute states:
(a)  A person propelling a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, shall yield the right of way to any pedestrian and shall give audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian. (b)  A person shall not ride a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, where such use of bicycles is prohibited by official traffic-control devices. (c)  A person propelling a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, shall have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.
625 ILCS 5/11-1512.

A bicycle may be ridden in a crosswalk, but pedestrians have the right of way, unless authorities have explicitly chosen to bar bikes.  In Chicago, local ordinance bars adults from riding on city sidewalks, but not crosswalks.

It is not clear to me why some folks believe it is always illegal to ride in a crosswalk.  Perhaps this misunderstanding comes from Chicago's sidewalk prohibition.  Many of us tend to think of a crosswalk as a natural extension of a sidewalk.  There is some logic in this thinking, but the law defines crosswalks and sidewalks differently.  Chicago ordinance defines a crosswalk as
[T]hat portion of a roadway ordinarily included within the prolongation or connection of sidewalk lines at intersections, or any other portion of a roadway clearly indicated for pedestrian crossing by markings.
Municipal Code of Chicago 9-4-010 (emphasis added).

State statute defines a crosswalk as
(a)  That part of a roadway at an intersection included within the connections of the lateral lines of the sidewalks on opposite sides of the highway measured from the curbs, or in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the traversable roadway, and in the absence of a sidewalk on one side of the highway, that part of the highway included within the extension of the lateral lines of the existing sidewalk to the side of the highway without the sidewalk, with such extension forming a right angle to the centerline of the highway;
(b)  Any portion of a roadway at an intersection or elsewhere distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface placed in accordance with the provisions in the Manual adopted by the Department of Transportation as authorized in Section 11-301. 
625 ILCS 5/1-113.

A sidewalk, pursuant to both local ordinance and state statute, is
[T]hat portion of a public way between the curb, or the lateral lines of the roadway, and the adjacent property lines, intended for the use of pedestrians.
Municipal Code of Chicago 9-4-010; 625 ILCS 5/1-188.

A crosswalk is a part of the roadway.  A sidewalk is not.  If lawmakers had meant for crosswalks to be considered a part of sidewalks presumably they would have said so.  They have not.  Also, though crosswalks are intended primarily for pedestrians, I am not aware of any statute, ordinance or case that states that pedestrians are the only permitted users of crosswalks.  (As we saw in Boub v. Township of Wayne one may be a permitted though not an intended user of a roadway.)  There simply is no legal reason that supports the notion that just because it may be illegal to ride on a sidewalk that it is also illegal to ride in a crosswalk, especially in light of the language in Sec. 11-1512 which permits bikes in crosswalks so long as pedestrians are given the right of way.

Even if crosswalks exist primarily for pedestrians rather than bicyclists, there are often legitimate reasons for a cyclist to ride in a crosswalk.  An urban bicyclist will often do so when preparing to make a left turn at an intersection.  Sec. 11-1510 of the Illinois Motor Vehicle Code describes one way in which a bicyclist may legally make a left:
A person riding a bicycle . . . intending to turn left shall approach the turn as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway.  After proceeding across the intersecting roadway to the far corner of the curb or intersection of the roadway edges, the bicyclist . . . shall stop, as much as practicable out of the way of traffic.  After stopping the person shall yield to any traffic proceeding in either direction along the roadway such person had been using.  After yielding, the bicycle . . . shall comply with any official traffic control device or police officer regulating traffic on the highway along which he intends to proceed.
In other words, simply cross the road onto which you wish to travel and wait with cross traffic.  When doing so the bicyclist may find, depending on the specific roadway design and traffic circumstances, that the safest and perhaps only place in which to accomplish this maneuver is in a crosswalk.  In Chicago, and in parts of Illinois, this is perfectly legal.

I am not advocating that bicyclists unnecessarily occupy crosswalks that are clogged with pedestrians.  Doing so will often place pedestrians at unnecessary risk for injury.  On the other hand, where few or no pedestrians are present and the circumstances require it, a bicyclist should not hesitate to use the crosswalk to his or her advantage.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Should You Flash Motorists? The Moth Effect and The Bicycle

Nowadays many Chicago bicyclists equip their bikes with red rear flashing lights that alert motorists coming from behind of their presence.  This is a good thing.  Generally, when a motorist sees a bicyclists he or she will make every effort to steer clear.  Illinois law does not require rear facing lights on bicycles.  Only front headlamps and rear reflectors are legally necessary.  However, taking the extra step of equipping both the front and rear of a bicycle with lights is an excellent idea.  There is some debate, however, regarding the best and safest way to illuminate the bicycle rear:  Should the rear light blink or remain steady?

The debate arises from something dubbed the "moth effect."  Studies considering when emergency vehicles should and should not utilize flashing lights at a crash scene have sometimes demonstrated this effect.  Like a moth to a flickering flame, a human being behind the wheel will be attracted to a light blinking in the darkness.  The implication is that blinking lights on vehicles, and on the back of bicycles, may be more dangerous than steady lights.  Rather than alerting and repelling the motorist, a flashing light may actually draw the approaching vehicle to the light's source causing a collision.  Apparently, steady lights do not have such an effect.  There is little science, however, that supports the existence of this supposed effect.  According to James D. Wells Jr., who conducted a comprehensive 2004 study of the moth effect, "There are no known studies that have not been disproven that substantiate the actual existence of this effect in real world driving."  Furthermore, even if there is some evidence for the moth effect in the emergency vehicle context, there are no studies I'm aware of considering its application to bicycles, which generally do not emit nearly as much light as say an ambulance with all lights a-blazin'.

In a dense urban atmosphere bicycles at night at competing to be seen with a lot of illuminated objects, i.e. cars, street lights, flashing pawn broker signs, etc. Moreover, bikes are small in comparison to other vehicles on the road and bike lights can offer relatively little candle power compared to these other illuminated sources.  It seems that using a flashing light would help the bicyclist been seen best in the urban road discotheque.  The bicyclist should, of course, make up his or her own mind on the subject.  Either option is perfectly legal in Illinois.  I recommend reading an excellent treatment of the moth effect by human factors expert, Marc Green, complete with study references.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bicyclist Doored In Front Of Chicago's East Bank Club

On his way home from work, a Chicago bicyclist was injured on May 25th when the driver of a 2010 Mercedes-Benz opened her car door without looking for traffic on West Kinzie Street in front of the East Bank Club.  Immediately following the collision the cyclist was transported via ambulance to Northwestern Memorial Hospital with a severe right leg injury.

The dooring incident took place at around 5:40 p.m. just east of Kinzie Street's intersection with North Kingsbury Street.  The bicyclist was riding eastbound along the ride side of Kinzie just after stopping at the sign controlled intersection.  He had split second notice that the door was about to open in his path and attempted to swerve to his left.  However, his effort to avoid impact was not successful, his right leg crashing hard into the driver's door. The bicyclist had been wearing a helmet.

The bicyclist suffered what appears to be significant tearing of the muscle in his lower right leg which has resulted in a foot drop.  It is not clear whether this will be a permanent injury but he has not yet regained full use of his leg.  Our law firm is representing the cyclist in this matter.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chicago's New Cycle Track Will Not Be Optional For Bicyclists

Our beautiful new cycle track on Kinzie Avenue is nearly complete.  It provides a safe pathway for bicyclists traveling into Chicago's Loop from Milwaukee Avenue to Wells Street, segregated from motor vehicles.  Long overdue, the track promises to be the first 1/2 mile of a promised 100 miles of protected bikeways to be built in Chicago over the next few years.  Segregating bicyclists from motor vehicles is likely to make riding in the city safer and will encourage more folks to pedal around town, decreasing motor vehicle congestion and increasing the city's overall health and livability.

Bicyclists, like any other loosely defined "community" of individuals, like to complain about stuff.  And I have already heard concerns among bicyclists over the new cycle track.  Some worry -- not unreasonably -- that funneling riders into a insulated space will make getting around by bike slower, less enjoyable.  The cycle track, some fear, will get clogged with slower riders, and that it will be difficult for quicker riders to pass due to the presence of the segregating barriers.  Some of those concerned about being forced to "go Dutch" have declared an intent to simply ignore the cycle track, to ride Kinzie in the regular lane of traffic.  Well, not so fast.  Once the Kinzie cycle track is complete, riding in it will be required for bicyclists, not an option.  Section 9-52-020 of Chicago's Municipal Code states,
(d)  Whenever a usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a roadway, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the roadway.
The only time when a bicyclist may arguably avoid the cycle track will be if its use is not feasible, i.e. due to the collection of snow or debris.  Otherwise, it must be utilized when traveling that stretch of Kinzie.

I like going fast.  I am guessing there are going to be times during my commute when I am frustrated because I am behind a slow poke in flip flops on a cruiser carrying 25 plastic bags of junk.  But I am hoping that will happen rarely, and in any event is a fair trade-off for not constantly fearing for my life while trying to get to work in the morning.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Someone On Chicago Lawn Street Likely Knows Who Killed 8 Year Old On Bicycle

Someone on the block where this young girl lived likely knows the driver of the SUV that killed her.  According to the report below by NBC the vehicle had been parked on the residential street just before striking Mariela.  I would anticipate the Chicago Police Department going door to door looking for witnesses.


View more videos at: http://nbcchicago.com.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Police Searching for Silver SUV That Struck, Killed 8 Year Old Riding Bicycle In Front Of Her Home

Eight year old Mariela Crisostomo died early this morning of injuries suffered when she was struck by a hit-and-run SUV as she rode her bicycle in front of her home in Chicago Lawn.  Mariela lived with her parents on a quiet street on the 3300 bock of West 62nd Place.  Her parents only allowed her to ride near her home which they felt would keep her away from motor vehicle traffic.  Yesterday, however, the female driver of a gray or silver SUV violated the serenity of the neighborhood, crashing into young Mariela so hard that she was thrown off her bicycle and underneath a parked car.  Neighbors who witnessed the horrifying scene saw the woman speed away from the collision.  Police are still looking for the driver.

This story was reported by William Lee of the Chicago Tribune.  Read the full article here.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

8 Year Old Girl Seriously Injured After Being Struck By Vehicle In Crystal Lake

An 8 year old girl suffered serious head injuries yesterday morning as she rode her bicycle on a quiet residential street in Crystal Lake.  At around 7:35 a.m. the girl was riding across North Avenue toward Millard Avenue with her 12 year old brother when she was struck by a 2004 Acura traveling east on North.  The impact threw the girl onto the windshield of the car, rendering her unconscious.  She was taken to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge.  It was not been reported how fast the car was traveling at the time of the incident.

Recall of Civia Bicycle Front Racks Announced

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Quality Bicycle Products yesterday announced the recall of front bicycle racks sold with Civia Loring bicycles and as an aftermarket upgrade.*  The company received one report of the rack mount breaking causing the rack, installed over the front wheel, to collapse causing injury to a rider.  If you have one of these racks you should remove it and contact the retailer from which you purchased it for a refund or replacement.

*Civia's website notes that the recall applies only to racks purchased as an aftermarket upgrade.  However, the Safety Commission's press release makes no distinction between racks purchased with the Civia Loring bicycle and those purchased as an upgrade.  It is not clear to me if or how the racks may be different, but consumers with one of these racks are encouraged to contact Civia/QBP with questions or concerns.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bicyclist In Serious Condition After Being Struck By City of Chicago Vehicle

A City of Chicago vehicle caused serious injury to a 20 year old female bicyclist yesterday afternoon near the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and Cullom Avenue.  Passersby at the scene after the collision reported seeing a badly damaged bicycle and a significant amount of blood.  The type of city vehicle has not been revealed, but at least one passerby noted that it seemed to be a sanitation vehicle.  The bicyclist was taken to Illinois Masonic Medical Center after in the incident.  Her current condition is unknown.

It has not be reported how the collision occurred.  It has been suggested that the bicyclist may have ran a stop sign, but no basis for that speculation has been cited.  Based on the seeming severity of the cyclist's injuries it seems unlikely that her point of view has been gathered.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

25 Year Old Bicyclist Struck By Motorist In Chicago's Old Town Neighborhood

A 25 year old Chicagoan sustained a left elbow fracture and a concussion after being struck by a motorist as she rode her bicycle near 149 West Division Street on April 26th.  The bicyclist was taken from the scene via ambulance to Northwestern Memorial Hospital.  She had been wearing a helmet, which may have saved her from sustaining a far worse head injury.  She remains in treatment for her elbow fracture.  Our law firm is aggressively pursuing a claim against the at fault motorist on the bicyclist's behalf.

The incident occurred at around 5:10 p.m. as the cyclist rode at a modest pace eastbound along the right side of West Division behind her boyfriend in Chicago's Old Town neighborhood.  As the two approached Division's intersection with LaSalle Street, the driver of a 2002 Suzuki Aerio, also headed eastbound on Divisioin, suddenly merged right into the bicyclist, the front of his vehicle striking her rear wheel.  Her boyfriend, traveling about 10 feet in front of her, heard a sickening crunch as her head and left side struck the pavement.

Bicycle Helmets Marketed For Aggressive Downhill Riding May Fail; Recall Announced

 The makers of Bell helmets, along with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Health Canada, have issued a recall of some of its full-face bicycle helmets.  The plastic buckle that connects the chin strap of the helmet, marketed for aggressive downhill riding, can fail causing the helmet to come off the wearing's head.  Bell Sports has received one report of a buckle failure during a crash, resulting in injury.  Consumers are advised to stop using the helmets and to contact Bell Sports for a replacement or refund.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New Illinois Law To Permit Bicyclists To Proceed Through Faulty Traffic Signals, Chicago Exempted

Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn is expected to sign a bill into law that will allow bicyclists outside of Chicago to proceed through traffic lights that fail to turn from red to green.  The new law, which originated as House Bill 2860, does not permit bicyclists to run red lights.  It requires cyclists to come to a complete stop at red lights, but permits them to pedal through after waiting a "reasonable period of time" for the light to change and only when the coast is clear.  The new provision states:
After stopping as required by paragraph 1 or 2 or this subsection, the driver of a motorcycle or bicycle, facing a steady red signal which fails to change to a green signal within a reasonable period of time because of a signal malfunction or  because the signal has failed to detect the arrival of the motorcycle or bicycle due to the vehicle's size or weight, shall have the right to proceed subject to the rules applicable after making a stop at a stop sign as required by Section 11-1204 of this Code.
 The new law will apply only to municipalities with less than 2 million inhabitants, obviously exempting Chicago.

The house bill seems to have been initially proposed due to a perceived problem for motorcyclists who sometimes find themselves, especially in less populated parts of the state, sitting at traffic signals for inordinate periods of time with nary a car or truck in sight.  Apparently, a motorcycle may not be large or heavy enough to trip the sensors that facilitate light change.  Bicyclists were later added to the bill.

Despite the late addition of bicyclists to this legislation -- and its exemption in Chicago -- this law should be viewed as progress for Illinois cyclists.  Our traffic laws do not reasonably reflect the realities of how bicyclists use our roadways.  Bicyclists should not simply blow through red lights and stop signs without looking.  At the same time we should not be required to lumber about like a two ton motor vehicle.  It would be reasonable, in my opinion, for bicyclists throughout the state to be permitted to treat traffic signs and signals as yield signs.  That is how most people ride anyway.  If the coast is clear, after slowing to a stop or near stop, bicyclists should be permitted to proceed.  This is not the law.  But the new provision to be signed by Governor Quinn is a step in that sensible direction.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Chicago Bicyclist Doored In Bridgeport

A 30 year old woman suffered injuries to her wrists, shoulder and head after being doored while riding her bicycle in Chicago's Bridgeport neighborhood on May 9th.  Our law firm is representing her.  The incident occurred at around 8:20 p.m. as the woman rode her bicycle northbound along the 2900 block of  South Throop Street.  Pedaling at modest speed, with a flashing light on the front of her bike, she had no warning that the door of a Chrysler PT Cruiser parked on the right side of the street was about to be thrown open in her path.  The collision threw her from the bicycle, causing her injures.  She had been wearing a helmet.

After the incident she was taken via ambulance to the University of Illinois Chicago Medical Center.  She continues to treat for her injuries.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ghost Bike Ceremony In The News

Here is some video from Univision of the Ghost Bike Ceremony held on Saturday in honor of Dion Harris who was struck and killed by a motorist on May 8th.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Ghost Bike Ceremony To Honor Sixteen Year Old Bicyclist

A Ghost Bike ceremony will be held tomorrow morning in honor of a sixteen year old boy who was killed by a motor vehicle as he road his bicycle on May 8th.  A permanent Ghost Bike will be installed near the intersection of West Grand Avenue and Kolmar Avenue by friends of Dion Harris at 10:00 a.m.  So far, 69 people have agreed to participate, according to a Facebook page set up to promote the event.  All are invited.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bicyclists Take To The Streets To Remember The Fallen

Yesterday, a few hundred riders across Illinois braved lousy weather and the siren song of Bulls playoff basketball to join many others from around the world in commemorating bicyclists killed and injured by motor vehicles.  The Ride of Silence occurs worldwide each year.  This time the ride included 126 riders in Chicago, 136 in Peoria, 58 in Joliet and 68 in Arlington Heights who solemnly cycled past several Ghost Bikes set up as memorials marking the sites of bicycle crashes.  Here is a link to photos from the Chicago ride.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Chicago Bicycle Commuter Injured By SUV Along Milwaukee Avenue To Be Compensated

A Chicago bicycle commuter will be compensated for injuries he received when an SUV pulled in front of him as he rode in the bike lane along Milwaukee Avenue, near the intersection with Ogden Avenue, in August.  A settlement agreement was reached yesterday between the bicyclist, whom we represent, and the driver.  The cyclist sustained a facial laceration and a neck injury when the vehicle abruptly pulled out of a drug store parking lot and into the dedicated bike lane.  The bicyclist immediately grabbed for his brakes but could not avoid cashing into the side of the SUV.  The incident occurred at around 7:30 p.m.  The cyclist was riding home from his office in the Loop.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel's Transition Plan Offers Big Benefits To Chicago Bicyclists

Courtesy of Transportation Nation
Chicago's new mayor-elect has released his 2011 Transition Plan which contains some significant benefits for city bicyclists.  Rahm Emanuel's plan proposes the creation of 25 miles of protected bike lanes yearly for use by persons of all ages and abilities beginning in his first year in office.  A two mile long pilot location for a protected lane is to be chosen within his first 100 days in office.  Protected bike lanes will be located between the sidewalk and parked cars which would shield cyclists from moving motor vehicle traffic.  The City will prioritize creation of these new lanes to link various neighborhoods to Downtown and to each other.  (See Initiative #25 on page 37).

The bicycle will be taken seriously as a mode of intracity transportation when it becomes reasonably safe and convenient of everyone.  Protected bike lanes mean that shuttling young children to school or daycare in a trailer, bakfiet or child seat becomes a viable option for more people.  Take the fear of getting poleaxed by a car out the the equation and more Chicagoans will perform more errands on their bikes, reducing the number of cars on city streets.  This will reduce congestion for drivers and cyclists alike, lessen carbon emissions and make streets safer for all.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sixteen Year Old On Bicycle Killed At Chicago Intersection

Sixteen year old Dion Harris of the 1600 block of North Kolmar Avenue was killed last night when he and a motor vehicle collided as he rode his bicycle near the intersection of West Grand Avenue and Kolmar Avenue in Chicago, according to the Chicago Breaking News Center.  Chicago Police apparently report that the boy ran a stop sign, causing the crash.  However, few facts have been reported.  The News Center states that, "The youth was taken in very serious condition to the hospital where he was pronounced dead."  No witnesses are identified.  Presumably, the only version of events was that of the driver.  Also, the News Center reports that the boy "was riding his bike in the 4500 block of West Grand Avenue when he disobeyed a stop sign at Kolmar Avenue and ran into the middle of traffic."  It adds that, "The teen struck a vehicle driving on Grand near Kolmar.  There are no stop signs or traffic lights at that intersection in the direction the vehicle was traveling."  This report makes it sound like both Harris and the driver where traveling on West Grand Avenue at the time of the crash.  However, the story also gives the overall impression that the bicyclist and the driver approached the intersection perpendicular to one another.  At the intersection, Kolmar Avenue is controlled by a stop sign.  No sign controls traffic traveling on West Grand.

Harris' died about one block from his home.  Hopefully, additional facts will be brought to light in the coming hours and days.

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