The New Mainstream Mode of Transportation in Chicago: Bicycles

It’s summertime in Chicago and what better way to enjoy the weather than by going on a bike ride. Whether it is riding along the miles of lakeshores linking our city and Lake Michigan or commuting to work, bicycling is an affordable and environmentally sustainable mode of transportation. More than ever with the implementation of the current bike sharing system, the Divvy program, bicycling has become an accessible and preferred means of transporting around the City. In fact, the City of Chicago 2012 Bicycle Crash Analysis reported that since 2000, the number of bicycle commuters has increased by 150 percent.

In addition to implementing the Divvy program, the Mayor of Chicago demonstrated his commitment to make bicycling an integral part of daily life by carrying out the Bike 2015 Plan, which was approved by the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council on September 21, 2005. The Bike 2015 plan recommends projects, programs, and policies for the next ten years to encourage use of bicycling around the City and to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality.

There are two overarching goals to the Bike 2015 plan: (1) to increase bicycle use so that 5% of all trips less than five miles are by bicycle, and (2) to reduce the number of bicycle injuries by 50% from current levels. In order to effect these goals, the plan proposes a 500-mile bikeway network, expanding on the 300-mile network of bikeways proposed in the Bike 2000 Plan (1992), the 125 miles of new bike lanes and 250 miles of signed routes suggested in the Streets for Cycling Plan (2000), and the trails recommended in the Chicago Trails Plan (2005).

However, as the number of bicyclists increase, so do the number of bicycle related injuries. According to the City of Chicago 2012 Bicycle Crash Analysis, a percentage of all traffic crashes, bicycle crashes are on the rise: from 6.7 percent of all crash types in 2005 to 9.8 percent of all crash types in 2010. It is important to be aware that bicyclists on the roadway have the same legal rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles. It is also important to note that with safety education and behavior change amongst road users, the majority of bicycles crashes are preventable. In efforts to bring safety awareness to road users, in May 2012, the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) launched Chicago Forward, a 2-year action agenda that is directly focuses on bicycle safety by creating a safe bike network throughout the City.

Safety is paramount in busy city like Chicago where pedestrians and bicyclist intermingle with fast moving vehicles and trucks. As a result, education and enforcement are critical components to ensure road users understand their roles and responsibilities. Click here for a guide on safe cycling in Chicago. Moreover, you can find bicycle maps for around the City here.

Like other motor vehicle accident, victims of a bicycle accident can seek damages from insurance companies, including damages for injuries sustained from a hit and run driver. However it is important to be aware that insurance companies may try to greatly undervalue your injury and refuse to compensate you for your total medical costs. That is why it is important to speak with an attorney. If you were injured in a bicycle accident, call our firm for a free consultation and we may be able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.