Commuting by bicycle is good for the environment, great for your health and an invigorating way to start the day. But sharing the road with motor vehicles can be dangerous for even the most experienced cyclists.
McNabola Law Group partner Mark McNabola recently filed a negligence lawsuit after a cyclist was seriously injured by a car in Crystal Lake, Ill.
The cyclist was at the intersection of Lakeshore Drive and Lake Avenue near Crystal Lake Main Beach on July 14, 2018, when a car suddenly turned right into his bike.
The cyclist was pulling his 2-year-old daughter in a trailer and riding in a crosswalk at the time. He suffered serious injuries. The lawsuit states the driver disobeyed a stop sign, failed to yield to the bicycle’s right-of-way, didn’t decrease his speed and failed to maintain a proper lookout.
“The collision could’ve been avoided if the driver simply paid attention,” McNabola said. “Distracted driving is a serious issue that’s making roads increasingly unsafe for cyclists.”
The case is pending in McHenry County.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 783 cyclists were killed in traffic crashes in the United States in 2017. Three-quarters of those deaths occurred in urban areas, and nearly 90 percent of victims were male.
Whether riding in Chicago or the surrounding suburbs, it’s paramount bicyclists ride defensively and take precautions to protect themselves.
Here are some tips that will help first-time commuters and returning road warriors alike.
• Wear a helmet. It’s easy, and helmets are fairly inexpensive. Three-quarters of deaths in bike crashes are caused by head injuries. An Australian study in 2016 found that helmets reduce the risks of serious head injury by nearly 70 percent.
• Be seen. High-visibility clothing like brightly colored helmets or colorful jeans can make a big difference. Don’t forget to turn on flashing bicycle lights in dark, cloudy or rainy conditions.
• Behave predictably. Make it easy for drivers and other cyclists to know what you’re going to do. This means stopping at lights, signaling turns and holding your line. Don’t weave in and out of traffic or parked cars. Don’t ride on sidewalks, where people are not expecting to see bicycles.
• Be prepared. Get a bike tune-up to make sure everything is in good working order. Without proper maintenance, bicycles could be susceptible to problems like flat tires or broken brakes.
• Be paranoid. Assume that car drivers can’t see you. Keep your head on a swivel, and always look up the road for distracted or aggressive drivers, road hazards or car doors that might suddenly swing open.
• Don’t be afraid to take the lane. It’s your road, too, and you have just as much right to be there as a car does. If the road is too narrow to use the shoulder, or if there are obstructions in the bike lane, ride safely down the center of the traffic lane until you have enough space to move back to the right.
• And if you’re a driver, keep your eyes open and be mindful of cyclists. Illinois motorists are required to give bicycles a minimum of three feet of space when passing. Drivers can avoid “dooring” people by practicing the Dutch Reach, or opening their door with their right hand.