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Urban Cycling in the Windy City: Pedaling Safely Through the City Streets of Chicago

Referred to as the Windy City, Chicago is a busy city with a thriving cycling culture. The city is a great place for urban cycling because of its vast network of bike lanes and trails. Recent strategies have emphasized building a more connected and protected network. They have plans to add 150 miles of bike roads partly fueled by the Chicago Works infrastructure funding program.

On the other hand, safety remains an issue, underscored by incidents like the fatalities on Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago’s busiest bikeway. These scenarios highlight the necessity for protective measures in cycling (two-wheel) lanes​.

Understanding the Risks of Urban Cycling

In every urban setting, there are risks associated with cycling. These risks can be made worse in Chicago by the city’s hectic pace, heavy traffic, and erratic weather. Unfortunately, bicycle-related personal injury cases are not uncommon, with nearly 15,000 cases every year, including in Cook County. They can involve minor bumps and bruises, severe personal injury, or wrongful death.

Hot Spots for Bicycle Accidents in Chicago

Cyclists in Chicago should be extra cautious on arterial roads. These roads make up over 53% of bicycle accidents in the city. Intersections are another danger zone, with drivers potentially running red lights or not yielding. Even seemingly safe areas like parking lots often pose a higher risk than anticipated.

Safety First: Preventing Accidents

Every cyclist should prioritize preventing accidents. Here are a few safety guidelines:

  • Motor vehicle operators and cyclists are bound by the same set of regulations. This entails paying attention to pedestrians and following signs and traffic signals. It’s also recommended to ride defensively, staying alert to surroundings and avoiding distractions like texting or using headphones​.
  • Wear reflective cycling gear and lights, particularly when riding a cycle at night or in unfavorable weather.
  • Riding in groups can help you be seen by drivers. Moreover, it can also offer support in the scenario of a mechanical issue or an emergency.
  • Strong winds and slippery roads can make riding in bad weather risky, especially in the Windy City.
  • Riding a bike that fits your height would be ideal. Your bike handling and control will suffer if you ride a bike that is either too big or too small.

Lastly, before leaving, follow the M-check pattern. Make sure that all of the quick-release fasteners on your handlebar, stem, seat post, pedals, and wheels are tight. Remember to inflate tires and check for leakage.

Unfortunately, disparities in cycling infrastructure continue, with white neighborhoods having more bike lanes than Black neighborhoods. This reflects a significant urban planning and racial equity challenge. Riding during off-peak hours can also reduce the risk of accidents. These measures, coupled with ongoing city initiatives, aim to make cycling in Chicago safer and more enjoyable for everyone.

What to Do If You’re Involved in an Accident?

First and foremost, seek medical attention. Your health should be your priority. Even if you don’t think you’re seriously injured, it’s still fair to get checked out by a medical professional. Some injuries, like brain injuries, may not be immediately apparent.

Report the accident to the police as soon as possible. Regardless of the damage, contacting the police is essential. Stay at the scene and wait for their arrival. When speaking to the officer, provide a factual account of the accident, including details but avoiding speculation. Remember to request a copy of the police report. According to TorHoerman Law, this can be crucial for insurance and legal purposes.

Try to document the scene to the best of your ability. If possible, capture photographs of the accident site, your injuries, and any damage sustained by your bicycle. This will help things with the insurance company. It could also serve as important evidence if you decide to seek compensation through legal action.

Seeking Legal Help

If you’ve been injured in a cycling accident in Chicago, you may want to consider seeking the help of a personal injury attorney in Chicago, IL. They can help you understand your rights and guide you through the process of filing a personal injury claim.

Personal injury law can be complex, and each personal injury case is unique. In cases involving insurance companies, medical malpractice, or wrongful death, a Chicago legal team can assist. They provide the expertise needed to seek fair compensation for personal injuries.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the personal injury law in Chicago, Illinois?

In Illinois, the personal injury law operates under a “modified comparative negligence” system. This means you are eligible for compensation if your share of fault in an accident is under 50%.

What is the statute of limitations on personal injury in Illinois?

In Illinois, you have a two-year statute of limitations to initiate a lawsuit (personal injury). This period begins on the date the injury occurred. It’s essential to adhere to this timeframe to preserve your legal rights to compensation.

How much are attorney fees for personal injury cases in Chicago?

Most personal injury lawyers charge a contingency fee, meaning they only get paid if you win your case. Typically, these fees range from 33% to 40% of the settlement or court award. The specific percentage can vary based on the case’s complexity and whether it goes to trial. Additional factors include any caps set by local laws.

Can you sue for emotional distress in Illinois?

Yes, you can sue for emotional distress in Illinois, but there’s a nuance.  Emotional distress can be included in a personal injury lawsuit in Illinois. However, filing a standalone lawsuit for emotional distress has more stringent requirements.

To wrap up, cycling in Chicago can be a wonderful experience. However, it’s important to stay safe and know your rights. If you’re ever involved in an accident, remember that help is available.