Chicago injury attorneys are happy to announce the city’s new Streets for Cycling Plan 2020. The plan is identifying projects, programs and policies to encourage bicycle transportation and make the city streets safer for both drivers and riders.
In October 2012, a cyclist riding on Near North Side streets was killed when he swerved into the path of an oncoming semi-truck to avoid being hit by an open car door. The accident occurred on Wells Street just north of Oak Street; the man was 32-year-old Neill Townsend. The driver of a Nissan opened hiscar door directly in the path of Townsend, who swerved to avoid the car door and fell underneath the wheels of a semi-truck. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Nissan owner was cited only for a traffic violation.
Advocates of the Streets for Cycling Plan envision a city free from these devastating accidents – hoping to reduce the number of bicycle injuries by 50%. The plan has eight specific chapters, each identifying a separate goal, beginning with establishing convenient and safe streets to ride on throughout the city. The most expansive and effective ways to accomplish this first goal is by opening two-way protected bike lanes, such as the new routes on Dearborn Street through the Loop. The Chicago Department of Transportation is planning to establish hundreds of protected lanes as part of the Streets for Cycling Plan.
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Without established bike lanes, more often than not, cars do not yield to bikers or leave room for them on the streets. This causes many bikers to either take to the sidewalks, which is incredibly dangerous for both bikers and pedestrians, or to take routes far out of their way so they can ride on streets with established lanes. The Plan is proposing a 500-mile bikeway network to priority destinations such as schools and universities, transit stations, and major venues. Many of the Plan’s goals are eligible for federal funding.
The Plan also outlines the need for bicycle consideration in the planning, construction, improvement and maintenance of all streets, bridges, underpasses and expressways. Roadway dangers such as potholes, broken glass, and sewer grates must be identified and repaired efficiently and effectively. Bicycle parking will be a major priority, calling for 5,000 bike racks and 1,000 long-term bike parking spaces around commercial and office buildings for free, convenient parking.
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In conjunction with the bikeway network, education may be the best way to prevent bicycle injuries and fatalities. The Plan is partnering with the Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Park District, Chicago Transit Authority, Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, and other non-profits, health agencies, and media outlets to increase public awareness of cycling issues. Education efforts include developing safe cycling skills in children and adults and teaching motorists how to share the road. Traffic laws will also be more greatly enforced, including training police officers, designating a bicycle enforcement officer at the CPD, and better analyzing serious bicycle crashes like Townsend’s, to prevent them from reoccurring.
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The immediate need for the Plan’s implementation is evidenced by life-threatening accidents occurring in Illinois all too frequently. Recently in Dekalb County, a nine-year-old girl was crossing a neighborhood intersection on her way to school when a speeding driver struck her with his car. The girl suffered numerous permanent injuries, and her family ultimately received $250,000 in damages from the driver’s insurance company. Increased driver and rider education, as proposed by Chicago’s Streets for Cycling Plan, may have prevented this accident.
Unfortunately, bicycle-vehicle accidents are often severe, resulting in immense medical bills and a long recovery process. The victims of such accidents can bring a claim against drivers for damages and injuries. If you or someone you love was the victim of a bicycle accident, contact an experienced bicycle lawyer for a free consultation. Bicycle lawsuits increase awareness of the serious bike accident problem plaguing our streets, and will help prevent further injuries and loss of life.
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