A growing number of people are using bicycles as a primary mode of transportation in U.S. cities. Chicago is aware of the trend and is looking to create a more bike-friendly infrastructure designed to reduce the number of deadly interactions between cars and bicycles. While changes can be made to make biking in Chicago safer, it is important for drivers and riders alike to be prepared to make considerations geared toward a safer, more easily navigable place to live and work.
A good place to start is to understand what goes wrong to lead to frequent collisions. A common form of accidents is referred to as a “dooring” accident. As the name clearly indicates, these accidents occur when cars unexpectedly open doors into the paths of bicyclists and cause a collision. Mayor Emanuel has announced his intention to increase the fines for people in cars who open doors without looking out for bikes. In addition, the city intends to put stickers in city taxis reminding passengers to check for bicycles before opening taxi doors.
Dooring accidents are not the only problem targeted by officials. The Mayor also acknowledged his intention to increase fines for bicyclists who violate traffic laws. People on bicycles are considered operators of vehicles and have all the same rights and responsibilities that a person driving a car has in the city. While there are some lanes and areas designated for bikes, when operating on city streets, bicyclists do not receive special treatment from the law.
Source: Minnesota Public Radio, “Should bikes and cars follow the same rules?,” 29 May 2013
Chicago Bike Safety A Serious Issue