Sadly, sometimes the police behave badly around bicyclists. This weekend a reader of this blog forwarded a video to me of himself being cut off by a Chicago police officer driving a department SUV. As you will see, the cyclist was riding in a clearly marked, dedicated bike lane when the officer suddenly turned right in front of him. Some heads up braking by the cyclist was the only thing that averted a crash.
The near miss was what we commonly refer to as a right hook, and is one of the most common types of motorist versus cyclists incidents. It occurs when a driver, traveling in the same direction as the bicyclist, suddenly turns in front of the cyclist at an intersection. It is an illegal maneuver and a violation of Chicago Municipal Ordinance 9-16-020(f) which states that a driver, "shall not turn to the right in front of the bicycle at that intersection or at any alley or driveway until such vehicle has overtaken and is safely clear of the bicycle." The officer also failed to operate his or her turn signal, another violation of local ordinance and the Illinois Vehicle Code.
Hopefully it goes without saying that police officers are subject to the law like everyone else. Our firm has filed lawsuits against the CPD where its officers have caused crashes with cyclists. The officer driving the SUV depicted in the video was very lucky that the bicyclist he or she never saw was paying attention and was able to take quick, evasive action.