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Chicago Home to First Bike-Share Fatality

Posted on in Bicycle Accidents

bike share fatalityWith the rise of bike-share programs across the nation, more Americans than ever are enjoying the thrill of riding around the city even if they do not own a bike. Chicago has introduced the Divvy bike-share system, which allows riders to take bicycles out and about in the city for 30-minute intervals for a small fee. While Divvy and other programs have made it possible for commuters to trade in their cars and leisure riders to enjoy the city in a different way, bicycling in an urban area can be risky, even for experienced cyclists. In a large metro area like Chicago, riders are vulnerable to collisions that may cause injury or even death. One Chicago family now mourns the loss of a daughter taken too soon because of a tragic accident.

An Experienced Rider Loses Her Life in a Crash

This past summer, a 25-year old woman from Chicago, was killed after a flatbed truck struck her while she was riding a Divvy bike. She was cycling in the Avondale neighborhood on Chicago’s far northwest side, traveling north on Sacramento. A truck, also traveling north on Sacramento, attempted to make a right-hand turn onto Belmont and did not see the woman, causing a collision that ultimately led to her death. Witness reports conflict over whether the woman was continuing to travel north or was making the same right-hand turn, but in either situation, as a cyclist, she had the right of way and the vehicle should have yielded to her.

According to family members, the woman was an experienced bicyclist and always wore a helmet, including at the time of the crash. Her family has filed a lawsuit in Cook County, naming both the truck driver and the trucking company as defendants. The suit claims that the driver caused the accident and the cyclist’s death by failing to keep proper lookout for bicyclists, failing to yield the right of way to a cyclist, and failing to reduce his speed. Attorneys for the cyclist’s family said that they want the city of Chicago and Divvy to come up with a plan to ensure that vehicles and bicyclists can peacefully coexist on congested roadways.

Biking Accidents a Serious Issue in the Chicago Area

While this tragedy is the first bike-share fatality reported thus far in the United States, bicycling accidents are sadly frequent occurrences in Illinois. Riders are twice as likely to die on roads than vehicle occupants and more than 700 fatalities occurred from crashes with cars in 2014 nationwide. Chicago is one of the most dangerous places for bicyclists. The Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reported that Illinois ranked the fifth most dangerous state for cyclists in terms of bicycle accident fatalities.  Bicycle accident deaths increased 16 percent between 2010 and 2012, with 80 deaths in those three years alone. Worse, the six states that reported the highest fatality rates – California, Florida, Texas, New York, Illinois, and Michigan – represented over half of all bicyclist deaths in the U.S.

The best protection measure for cyclists is helmet use. The GHSA reported that two-thirds of those killed on bikes in 2012 were not wearing helmets, and, unfortunately, Illinois does not require cyclists to wear helmets. Still, the victim was killed despite wearing a helmet, so this may not protect riders in every situation. Until cities like Chicago and bike-share systems like Divvy can create an infrastructure that protects both cars and bicycles, riders must take all precautions to protect their own safety, and drivers must respect cyclists on the road.

Involved in an Accident?

If you or a loved one has been in a bicycling accident with a vehicle, consult an experienced attorney to represent your rights. We know that no amount of money can make up for what you have endured, but you may be entitled to monetary damages for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact the experienced Lake County personal injury attorneys at Salvi & Maher, L.L.C. for help. We have represented injured parties in Illinois for decades, and we can provide the representation you need. Contact us at 847-662-3303 to schedule your free case consultation today.

Sources:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-divvy-crash-lawsuit-20160801-story.html

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-bike-deaths-illinois-met-20141027-story.html

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6431a1.htm

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