Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Specialized Recalls Popular Road Bike Models After Injury Reports

Injuries to at least two cyclists have prompted Specialized to recall three models of road bicycles, including the some popular Tarmac models.  Facial injuries are reported to have occurred to riders when the steerer tube in the fork broke, according to a press release from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.  The recall affects recent editions of the Tarmac SL4, Crux and Secteur models.  The steerer tube connects a bicycle's fork to the frame head tube.  Bicyclists should immediately stop using the bikes and contact an authorized dealer for an inspection and free repair.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Chicago Bicycle Messenger Comes To Aid Of Fallen Cyclist


“Bystanders state she was out of it for a few minutes.”  That's what ambulance personal from the City of Chicago noted after coming to the scene of a bicyclist struck by a car door on North Milwaukee Avenue last summer.  Now, my law firm has reached a settlement with the driver for the full amount of his auto insurance policy.  The cyclist, a 26 year old woman, suffered multiple injuries but has healed completely.

Critical to our efforts in resolving the case was a statement provided by a Chicago bicycle messenger who happened to be riding behind the women and witnessed the crash.  The incident occurred around 5:00 p.m. as the female cyclist was riding her mountain bike home from work on August 17, 2012 near 2525 North Milwaukee Avenue. The bike messenger, in the midst of making a delivery at the same time, told police, and later the driver's insurer, that the driver who was parked along the curb flung his door open suddenly just as the bicyclist was passing the vehicle.  The impact threw her to the ground where she hit her head and was nearly struck by another vehicle.  She was wearing a helmet but was knocked unconscious by the heavy impact.  The bike messenger's onsite advocacy compelled police to ticket the driver for violating Chicago Municipal Ordinance 9-40-160 which mandates that all drivers, "exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian, or any person operating a bicycle."

Friday, January 25, 2013

Cycling Legalese - Cycling and Drinking: Just How Much Trouble Can You Find Yourself In?

I am very proud that The Chicago Bicycle Advocate and Urban Velo have teamed up to create a new column, Cycling Legalese. The column will appear twice monthly on the Urban Velo website.  In it I will be answering readers' questions about cycling and the law. Below is the latest edition. 

Q:I love fueling my rides through the city with beer and Malört, but I’m wondering; could I get in trouble for biking under the influence?

The degree to which you can find yourself in legal trouble for cycling while intoxicated varies depending on where you are. In some places, bicyclists cannot be charged under a particular state’s DUI law. In Illinois, for example, the appellate court decided in 1995 that the state’s DUI statute only applies to a “vehicle.” Under the Illinois Motor Vehicle Code a bicycle is not considered a vehicle. Therefore, cyclists may not be charged under that particular law. The same is true in New York and several other states. However, if you are drunk and acting a fool. . .

Continue reading.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Elderly Motorist Strikes 20 Year Old Bicyclist In Lakeview

It was early twilight on a grey winter Wednesday, plenty of light left. As the 20 year old woman rode her bicycle southbound on North Lincoln Avenue, across the intersection with West Barry Avenue, she easily saw the red Dodge coming the other way.  The vehicle was beginning to turn left.  Surely he sees me, she thought.

At around 5:00 p.m. on January 16th the young photography student was struck by the 74 year old driver who was attempting to turn left from northbound Lincoln onto westbound Barry in Lakeview.  He would later claim to have not seen the cyclist, though she would have been easily visible.  The front corner of his vehicle hit the left side of the bicycle flipping its rider onto the hood where her face bounced off of the cold metal before she was thrown to the street.  When she leapt to her feet, adrenalin surging, blood was pouring from her broken nose and mouth.  An ambulance rushed her to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center nearby.

My law firm has been retained to represent the bicyclist.  Her face is healing but she continues to endure dental work to fix her broken teeth.

It is no defense in our state for a driver to say that he looked but did not see.  Since at least 1965, the Illinois appellate court has held that the unseeing eye defense is no defense at all.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Gathering

Last night, certified instructors of League of American Bicyclists from northern Illinois, myself included, gathered in downtown Chicago to discuss and plan for 2013.  The meeting took place at the offices of the Active Transportation Alliance.  Here are some of the highlights from the meeting:

  • Ed Barsotti, Executive Director of The League of Illinois Bicyclists discussed plans to launch  a "first-of-its-kind online bike safety curriculum."  The curriculum will consist of a challenging online test and dedicated website with modules emphasizing safe roadway practices for both bicyclists and motorists.  It will cater to both adults and children.  Importantly, the website will contain a teachers' account page to accommodate educators wishing to make the quiz a part of their own curriculum.  Read more about it here.
  • The Active Transportation Alliance is considering drafting LCIs to provide pre-event cycling instruction for prospective participates in the popular Bike The Drive and Four Star Bike Tour events later this year.  
  • Elizabeth Adamczyk, of the Ride Of Silence, is looking for passionate cyclists willing to organize rides in their towns to compliment well established memorial rides in Chicago, Bartlett and Arlington Heights.  Every year for the past 10, on May 15th bicyclists around the world gather to ride in solemn solidarity to honor and remember cyclists killed or injured by motorists.  Click here to learn more about the Ride Of Silence.  Elizabeth can be reached at emadamczyk@hotmail.com.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Teenage Bicyclist Hit Last Year In Darien Dies

The teenage bicyclist struck by the driver of pick up truck last year in Darien has died, according to The Chicago Tribune.

Hunter Himes of Downers Grove was 14 when he was hit by the right turning driver as he rode his bike home on February 26, 2012.  The driver, Timothy Hagan, was convicted in November for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a cross walk and was sentenced to 300 hours of community service, according to The Tribune. Hunter was riding in a crosswalk when he was struck.  Mr. Hagan, "Was at the intersection of Beller Drive and Lemont Road, waiting to make a right-hand turn onto Lemont Road and did not see the juvenile approaching in the crosswalk before he struck him with his car," reported The Tribune. Illinois bicyclists are permitted under state law to utilize crosswalks.  

Hunter was trapped under the car after the collision.  According to WoodridgePatch, "The car had to be lifted with two high-pressure air bags to reach him. He was found unconscious and taken to the Level 1 Trauma Center at Advocate Good-Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove before being airlifted to Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn."  The speed at which Mr. Hagan was traveling at the time he hit Hunter has not been reported.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Taxi Driver Causes Collision With Bicyclist On North Damen Avenue

There was a moment of sheer panic when the cab suddenly shot out in front of him.  A split second later he was flying over the front of the taxi and into the street.  The 27 year old cyclist landed hard on his right shoulder in a puddle of dark, murky slop on the side of the road.

On January 6th at around 12:30 a.m. the male bicyclist was riding home from a friend's house in the shared bike lane north along the 3300 block of North Damen Avenue when a taxi, which had been stopped along the curb, suddenly pulled out in front of him.  The cyclist could not avoid striking the front wheel well of the cab.  The impact sent him flying into the road where he suffered a separated shoulder.  He was taken from the scene via ambulance to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center.  

The bicyclist works at a Trader Joe's Market on the North Side.  The injury is expected to keep him out of work for at least six weeks.

My law firm has been retained to represent the bicyclist.  We are expecting the cab driver to offer the tired excuse that he did not see the cyclist.  However, the crash occurred in an area designated for bike traffic in a very well lit area.  In fact, the collision occurred directly underneath a street light.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sidewalk Riding. . . It's Complicated

Courtesy Blogging LA
Riding on sidewalks in Chicago is a "thing".  It is an illegal thing if you are 12 or older.  But it is a thing that most avid adult city cyclists will do on occasion, if just to access a bike rack or quickly escape a dangerous situation. It is perhaps a class thing too.  And this, mind you, is an uncomfortable thing to talk about.  Riders of bicycles that seem to spend much of their pedaling time on the sidewalk are the window washers, new residents on department store bikes, poor people with plastic shopping bags hanging from their handlebars.  It is also an age thing.  Sidewalks offer comfort and relative safety to the very young and very old bicyclist.

Riding on the sidewalk in the city is a. . . complicated thing.  It is something I have often dismissed as something that is plain reckless and illegal.  It posses a danger to pedestrians, particularly children, the elderly, the disabled and just should not be done, excepting those brief few feet between the street and the nearest bike rack.  Perhaps two months ago I was riding north on the new Elston Avenue buffered bicycle lane between Milwaukee Avenue and North Avenue.  It was one of the first times I had taken advantage of this new bit of bike specific infrastructure and it felt awesome.  Ahh, I could get used to this, I remember thinking as cars traveled past me far, far to my left.  Then I saw something unexpected yards in front of me, to my right, approaching the Morton Salt building:  A guy -- perhaps in his twenties or thirties -- riding his bicycle on the sidewalk right next to the gorgeous new bicycle lane.  I was really surprised.  So many have fought and begged to get this new infrastructure built.  The City has spent so much money trying to accommodate bicyclists.  How could his guy spit in the face of all of that, and break the law, by riding on the damn sidewalk?

I do not know why that particular man was riding on the sidewalk that day.  But what I have come to understand is that sidewalk riding in general is, like I said, complicated.  It is complicated for bicyclists, pedestrians and urban planners and engineers.  A recent essay by British sociologist David Horton on his Thinking About Cycling blog, does an excellent job of thoughtfully considering these complexities. He does not just speculate about why people ride on sidewalks, like I have done.  He talks to folks in an effort to understand.  Suddenly, to me anyway, sidewalk cycling does not always seem so ill considered.  A sidewalk cyclist is just a guy/gal trying to make his or her way.  It is an article I strongly recommend to all those interested in riding in the city.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Lexus Driver Strikes Bicycle Delivery Rider, Leaves Scene

The bicycle delivery rider was left in the road wondering why the driver of the Lexus SUV that hit him had been in such a rush.  He was also left with a badly fractured foot.

On December 2, 2012 at around noon, the bicyclist was riding westbound near 2348 West Lawrence Avenue approaching the intersection with Western Avenue.  He was coming from the nearby Jimmy John's Restaurant where he worked as a delivery rider.  He had been traveling in the dedicated left turn lane for several feet when suddenly he was clipped by a 2011 Lexus SUV traveling fast also in the left turn lane.  The impact was heavy, throwing him off his bike and fracturing his foot in two places.  He wonders if the driver, who left the scene before Chicago police arrived, was rushing to beat the green left turn light.

The bicyclist was taken to Swedish Covenant Hospital nearby where the fracture was diagnosed.  Presently, he is convalescing at his parent's home in Michigan awaiting word on whether he will require surgery to place metal pins in his foot.

My law firm has been retained by the cyclist.  If you witnessed this terrible crash I would appreciate it if you contacted me at 312.803.0128 or via email at bhk@mybikeadvocate.com.

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