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.

7 comments:

  1. I believe taxi cabs are allowed to load/unload passengers in the bike lane for up to 3 minutes; granted, they must first look for approaching cyclists, signal they are pulling over and use their hazards before the passenger exits the cab. There is exception for cabs to the referred: "the right wheels of the taxi encroached into the bike lane, an ordinance violation. "

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  2. There is no such exception to the prohibition against parking or standing in a bike lane. Here is the complete language of the relevant ordinance:

    9-40-060 Driving, standing or parking on bicycle paths or lanes prohibited -
    The driver of a vehicle shall not drive, unless entering or exiting a legal parking space, or stand, or park the vehicle upon any on street path or lane designated by official signs or markings for the use of bicycles, or otherwise drive or place the vehicle in such a manner as to impede bicycle traffic on such path or lane. The driver of a vehicle shall not stand or park the vehicle upon any lane designated by pavement markings for the shared use of motor vehicles and bicycles, or place the vehicle in such a manner as to impede bicycle traffic on such lane. In addition to the fine provided in Section 9-4-025 of this Code, any vehicle parked in violation of this section shall be subject to an immediate tow and removal to a city vehicle pound or authorized garage.
    Added Coun. J. 7-12-90, p. 18634; Amend Coun. J. 9-1-99, p. 10503, § 1; Amended Coun. J. 3-12-08, p. 22781, § 1

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  3. Thanks for this update on the collision.

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  4. I think to 'stand or park' means something longer than pulling over to let a passenger out. I expect that sometimes cars need to stop to let passengers out and this may involve 'momentary' double parking which will block the bike lane. As long as they signal to give me opportunity to slow down or go around (if no vehicle traffic) or if they wait for me to pass I'm fine with it. I think it is shortsighted of any cyclist to ride between a cab and the parked cars/curb b/c it is obvious that a passenger will be disembarking. The cyclist should stop or if traffic is clear go around.

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  5. @anonymous : You are absolutely right , as a chicago Taxi Driver i can assure you guys that no customer including myself would want to be dropped off 3blocks away ,because of the bike lane .. as long as the taxi is dropping of a passenger , he should be able to stop and safely drop the passenger .

    P.S the 3 minute rule make sense

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