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Recent Deaths Put Focus on Chicago Bike Safety

Chicago has been hit by a spate of deadly bicycle accidents in recent weeks. Late last month, an 11-year-old boy was struck while riding his bicycle within a block of his Northwest Chicago home. He died June 25, 2012, five days after the accident. On July 4, an 81-year-old man was killed after he crashed his bike into an SUV.

Chicago drivers have a duty to share the road with cyclists. Drivers can help prevent bicycle accidents by making a point to be on the lookout for cyclists and yielding to them when appropriate.

However, this does not mean that bicyclists don't have their own safety responsibilities. Chicago bike riders can help minimize their risk of accident and injury by using the following safety strategies:

  • Remember that a bike is a vehicle, too - cyclists must follow the same traffic laws that apply to cars, such as stopping at lights and signaling turns
  • Always ride with the direction of traffic
  • Only ride where bikes are allowed - in Chicago, it is illegal to ride a bike on Lakeshore Drive, and anybody over age 11 is prohibited from biking on a sidewalk
  • Stay visible and predictable, and don't weave through traffic
  • Never wear headphones while biking
  • Always wear a helmet, and use lights in limited-visibility situations

Chicago cyclists can also benefit from planning their trips to include more bike-friendly routes. Often, using side streets and bike paths instead of busy thoroughfares can result in a much safer ride.

Cyclists who are injured in a collision with a motor vehicle have a right to seek legal redress. If the accident was caused by another person's negligence, the cyclist can seek damages in a personal injury lawsuit.

Source: GRID Chicago, "Fatality tracker: Second bicycling fatality in Chicago in 2012 occurs on Independence Day," Seven Vance, July 4, 2012.

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