Biking In Chicago Is Better Than Ever ...
Biking has become an important part of everyday life in Chicago. Whether you use a bicycle for your commute or you bike for pleasure, Chicago is a great place to get on your bike and ride. It continues to climb the list of the most bike-friendly cities in the United States, moving up spot after sport each year in a variety of different publications.
This video from the Chicago Tribune provides an overview of the successes and perils of the city's bike system:
... But Danger Lurks Where You May Not Expect It
With the recent boom in cycling has come an increased investment in safety and bike lanes. But even these measures can do only so much to protect cyclists from the dangers they face when biking on Chicago's streets. While most people understand the hazards that moving vehicles pose to bicyclists, parked cars can be just as dangerous; when the door on a parked car, truck, taxi or other vehicle opens into a bike lane, it can lead to an accident that can seriously injure bicyclists. This is known as "dooring" and is a problem that has plagued Chicago for a long time.
Did You Know?: According to the most recent years (2012-2013) for which data are available from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), dooring accidents in Chicago occur at a rate of .73 accidents per day. Looking at the data from a different angle, this means that approximately every 10 days, there are more than seven dooring accidents in the city.
Dooring Is Illegal, And Has Been For A Long Time
The state and the city recognize that dooring poses a serious risk to those on bikes. The state made dooring illegal as far back as the 1970s, and Chicago followed suit in the early 2000s. The prohibition on dooring reads:
"No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers."
Chicago Municipal Code (Title 9-80-035) and Illinois State Law (625 ILCS 5/11-1407)
Look! Before Opening Your Door
Despite the fact that dooring has been recognized and outlawed for many years, it continues to be a problem. Understanding this, the city and private organizations have made efforts to protect bicyclists. Do the signs below look familiar?
Both of these images have been used to raise awareness and stem the continual stream of dooring accidents that occur in Chicago every year.
Did you Know?: The city of Chicago did not start tracking data related to dooring accidents until 2010 and the Illinois Department of Transportation did not start tracking dooring accident data until 2011.
Dooring Accidents Cause Serious Injuries
If you're here, then you likely know firsthand the damage that a dooring accident can cause. The statistics behind dooring accidents align with your experience; according to a bike crash data analysis conducted by the city of Chicago, dooring accidents cause a proportionally higher rate (nearly 10 percent) of injuries than nondooring bike accidents.
Due to the physics behind a dooring accident - where someone moving forward on a bicycle suddenly collides with a stationary car door - the injuries that result can be severe. All too often, these accidents cause injuries such as:
- Head and facial injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) such as concussions
- Neck injuries
- Road rash and abrasions
- Broken bones
Did You Know?: The previously referenced data from IDOT shows that dooring accident injuries are on the rise; the percentage of dooring accidents that led to injuries being reported increased by 2.2 percent year over year.
Major Streets Have Dooring Problems
Most of the information below still holds true today, but check out our 2016 dooring update to see exactly what has changed in recent years.
Many arterial streets - high-capacity roads that have some of the heaviest traffic in the city - have a serious dooring problem. Although dooring accidents can occur anywhere that cars and bikes share the road, 16 of Chicago's arterial streets account for more than half of all dooring accidents in the city. These streets are (in order of how many dooring accidents occur on each road):
These arterial streets account for more accidents than the remaining top 12 streets combined.
- In 2012, these streets accounted for just over one-third of all dooring accidents in the city. Just one year later, those same four streets accounted for nearly half of all dooring accidents in Chicago.
- In 2013, dooring accidents increased by 15 percent on Lincoln Avenue and by nearly 10 percent on Milwaukee and Damen avenues.
The other top arterial road for dooring accidents in Chicago are (in order of how many accidents occur on each road):
'The Driver Drove Away After Hitting Me With A Car Door'
It is common for people to open their car doors in the city and cause accidents with pedestrians, people jaywalking, bicyclists and other vehicles. Often, especially if there are no witnesses, the driver will deny ever opening his or her door or causing the victim injury. Offenders who flee the accident scene will also deny any wrongdoing.
Do not be discouraged if that is the case with your dooring accident. If an offender fled, it is important to see if cameras in the area might have captured the incident. There are cameras all over intersections/streets in Chicago, and that footage can often be used to find an offender after the fact.
Check Your Neighborhood And Your Bike Route
The Chicago Crash Browser - developed by bike enthusiast Steven Vance - allows you to see all of the bicycle and pedestrian injuries and fatalities that occurred in Chicago between 2005 and 2012. This map reflects only the injuries reported to law enforcement and the Illinois Department of Transportation. We all know that not everyone reports injuries, whether minor or major, so the true number of injuries suffered by bicyclists and pedestrians is higher than that reflected on this site. Nonetheless, the Chicago Crash Browser can help you see the areas that have the highest incidences of reported accidents and can help you assess your own bike path accordingly.
How To Use The Bike Crash Browser
- Navigate to the section of the map you want to review (Important note: use the plus (+) and minus (-) navigation buttons to zoom instead of double clicking).
- Then, use the "draw a rectangle" or "draw a polygon" button to highlight the area you want to obtain data for.
- After highlighting an area, give the site some time to run - there are a lot of accidents in Chicago, so it can take a few seconds for the site to process all of the data.
You can also click on the "show me where I am" button to get data for your location, but you will need to enable location services on your phone or computer.
Hurt In A Door Accident? You Need To Act Now.
If you have been injured in a dooring accident or other type of accident involving a bicycle you need to act immediately.
- Protect your health: Seek medical attention right away. This can include receiving treatment from paramedics, going to the emergency room, or seeing another medical provider in a clinic or hospital. Even if you think your injuries are minor, you need to see a medical professional to ensure that you do not have internal injuries. You also need to create a trail of medical documentation in case future complications arise.
- Protect your legal rights: Reach out to an attorney with experience in dooring accident cases as soon as possible. The driver's insurance company will quickly send a team of investigators and attorneys into action, so you need to act quickly to protect your ability to hold the driver accountable and get compensation for your injuries. Immediately having a skilled attorney at your side who has actually handled this very specific type of accident case can make all the difference in the outcome of your claim. It can mean the difference between recovering the compensation you need to pay for your medical bills, bike repair and other damages and getting nothing when the driver's insurance company and its team of lawyers blame you for the accident.
We Know Bike Accidents In Chicago
At Klest Law Firm, we are dedicated to helping our friends and neighbors in Chicago understand all of the options available to them when they have been doored. We have successfully handled many door accident cases, including situations where drivers denied opening their doors and insurance carriers attempted to minimize the compensation our clients received.
Contact us to arrange a consultation, where you will speak directly with an experienced dooring accident lawyer who will answer your questions and give you the advice you need.
We do not require a fee for initial consultations, and if you hire us, we will not charge an attorney fee unless we recover compensation for you.