Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Chicago Tribune "Letters To The Editor" Rehash Old Stereotypes

The Chicago Tribune posted a series of Letters to the Editor entitled "Letters: In light of death, how cyclists can ride smarter." The letters unfortunately reflect many of the misguided and inaccurate sentiments that have long plagued cyclists. Despite the hundreds of miles of bicycle lanes in Chicago and the specific sections of the Chicago Municipal Code and the Illinois Vehicle Code that serve to protect bicyclists, there are those that any crash is in some way the cyclist's fault. 

And apparently the Chicago Tribune thinks a fair summary is all cyclists should be riding "smarter," which would imply that we are not riding cautiously despite riding amongst giant SUVs, trucks and distracted motorists. The reality is most cyclists are law abiding and ride as safe as possible under the current conditions that are a combination of a culture of favoring motor vehicles and policy decisions that seek options that are least objectionable to the motoring public as opposed to those policies that value the life and safety of bicyclists. 

The authors of these "Letters to the Editor" fail to realize that many of their characterizations are inconsistent with the actual laws in place in Chicago and in Illinois generally. Three key bike laws stand out. 

1. Dennis' Law Solidifies The Equal Standing Of Bicyclists in Illinois

"Dennis' Law" went into effect on January 1, 2017 and makes the Illinois Rules of the Road absolutely clear that bicycles are “vehicles” as defined in the Illinois Vehicle Code. This statutory change to Illinois' statewide bike laws means that drivers of motor vehicles must provide the right-of-way to bicycles under the same circumstances they would to motor vehicles. Dennis' Law reflects the longstanding right of cyclists in Illinois to the same rights as motorists in Illinois. Motorists do not have "special" standing over bicyclists. 

2. Only Bicycles May Use Chicago's Bike Lanes

The purpose of bike lanes is to create a clearly defined area where bicyclists are not only permitted but intended users of the roadways. Marked bike lanes also serve as a warning to motorists that bicyclists may be present. "See Bike Lane, Think Bike" is the idea. The Chicago Municipal Code is absolutely clear: A motorist can not park nor stand in a bicycle lane. Here is the plain language of 9-040-060 of the Chicago Municipal Code: 
The driver of a vehicle shall not drive, unless entering or exiting a legal parking space, or stand, or park the vehicle upon any on street path or lane designated by official signs or markings for the use of bicycles, or otherwise drive or place the vehicle in such a manner as to impede bicycle traffic on such path or lane. The driver of a vehicle shall not stand or park the vehicle upon any lane designated by pavement markings for the shared use of motor vehicles and bicycles, or place the vehicle in such a manner as to impede bicycle traffic on such lane. In addition to the fine provided in Section 9-4-025 of this Code, any vehicle parked in violation of this section shall be subject to an immediate tow and removal to a city vehicle pound or authorized garage.
3.  Drivers Turning Right Across the Path of a Bicyclist MUST Yield to the Bicyclist

A right-hook collision occurs when a motor vehicle and a bicycle are travelling in the same direction and the driver of the motor vehicle turns right across the path of the bicyclist. Section 9-16-020 of the Municipal Code of Chicago specifically prohibits right turns in front of bicycles. The ordinance states:
When a motor vehicle and a bicycle are traveling in the same direction on any highway, street, or road, the operator of the motor vehicle overtaking such bicycle traveling on the right side of the roadway shall not turn to the right in front of the bicycle at that intersection or at any alley or driveway until such vehicle has overtaken and is safely clear of the bicycle.” 
The reason that these types of crashes are so common is simple: the motorist does not see the bicyclist even though they have the opportunity to do so. The motorist typically makes the turn without ever checking for other traffic - including bicycles - when making the turn and the collision occurs. 

It is crucially important to note that there is a specific duty placed upon the motorists to make sure that it is safe to turn right and not just assume there isn't a bicycle to their right. The key words in the ordinance are "until such vehicle has overtaken and is safely clear of the bicycle." The weight of these words are that it is incumbent upon the motorist to make absolute certain that the path is clear before turning. In addition, the commercial vehicles utilized in a professional capacity are supposed to be just that. "Professionals." More than anyone else they are the users of the roadways that need to follow all of the Rules of the Road and drive safely at all times. 

"Look For Bikes" 

The only take away from yet another tragedy in Chicago is that motorists must at least give bicyclists equal consideration as required by law. But ideally as fellow citizens bicyclists can get the respect and deference that we often need. 

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Details Emerge in Death of Chicago Cyclist Due to Right Hook on Milwaukee Avenue Bike Lane


The driver of a dump truck who struck a bicyclist when turning from southeast bound Milwaukee Avenue onto Kilbourn Avenue has been issued two traffic citations by the Chicago Police Department. The two citations stem from the fatal crash which occurred early Wednesday morning. The police officers that originally arrived at the scene did not issue citations, but it appears that after the Major Accidents Investigation Unit became involved and additional details emerged that the traffic citations were issued. The driver of the dump truck was issued a citation for negligent driving and another for an improper right turn. 

"Negligent Driving" is a violation of 9-140-160 of the Chicago Municipal Code. According to this section, "Every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian, or any person operating a bicycle or other device propelled by human or animal power,  upon any roadway, and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary and shall exercise proper precautions upon observing any child or any confused or incapacitated person upon a roadway." This is a very general provision of the Municipal Code that is frequently used in issuing citations to motorists who are involved in crashes with bicyclists or pedestrians. 

"Improper Right Turn" is what bicyclists commonly refer to as a "Right Hook Crash." Sub-paragraph F of 9-16-020 outlines the requirements for a motorist turning right in front of a bicycle.  "When a motor vehicle and a bicycle are traveling in the same direction on any highway, street, or road, the operator of the motor vehicle overtaking such bicycle traveling on the right side of the roadway shall not turn to the right in front of the bicycle at that intersection or at any alley or driveway until such vehicle has overtaken and is safely clear of the bicycle." Tragically, in this case it appears that the driver of the dump truck failed to ensure that the bicycle lane was free and clear of bicycle traffic before executing the right turn from Milwaukee Avenue onto Kilbourn Avenue. 

The Chicago Tribune reported that the bicyclist was 37-year old Carla Aiello of Chicago's Union Ridge neighborhood. Carla worked as a school counselor at Josephinum Academy, an all-girls School of the Sacred Heart in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood. 

Block Club Chicago reported that there were plans in place by the City of Chicago to install a protected bicycle lane on this stretch of Milwaukee Avenue but many resident complained about the loss of parking spots for automobiles. Instead, the City of Chicago painted marked bicycle lanes without any barrier protection. 

Our most sincere thoughts and prayers are with Carla Aiello's family and friends. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Chicago Cyclist Killed in Right Hook Crash with Dump Truck

Chicago Bike Map Showing Bike Lanes on Milwaukee and Kilbourn
A 37-year old Chicago bicyclist has been killed in an apparent "right hook" at the intersection of Milwaukee Avenue and Kimball Avenue on the city's northwest side. According to news reports, the bicyclist was riding southeast on Milwaukee Avenue when she was struck by a dump truck as its driver turned right onto Kilbourn Avenue. 

This section of Milwaukee Avenue contains marked bike lanes on both sides of Milwaukee Avenue and the adjacent section of Kilbourn that runs parallel to the railroad tracks. Metra's Grayland station and Schurz High School are near this intersection and there is near constant bicycle traffic at this intersection due to the Milwaukee bike lane, the train station and the high school.

Chicago's CBS 2 is reporting that the Chicago Police's Major Accidents Investigation Unit are investigating this fatal crash. However, initial reports by CBS 2 reflect that the Chicago Police are incorrectly categorizing this as a scenario in which the driver of the dump truck had the legal right-of-way. 

Given the presence of the bicycle lane on Milwaukee Avenue this is incorrect. Section 9-16-020 of the Municipal Code of Chicago specifically provides that a motor vehicle should not turn right across the path of a bicyclist traveling in the same direction until it is "clear" and safe to make the turn. This action is known as a "right hook" and is in direct violation of Chicago's Municipal Code. Under this section of the Municipal Code, there is no exception for the bicyclist being in the driver's "blind spot." The duty is on the driver of a vehicle turning right across a bike lane to check for oncoming bicycle traffic prior to turning right. 

In addition, the driver of a industrial truck like the one identified in this crash is required to adhere to all of the applicable rules of the road including the Illinois Vehicle Code and the Federal requirements. Here are some of the key laws that apply to a bicycle crash of this nature:
  • 49 C.F.R. Section 383.111 of the Code of Federal Regulations requires a professional driver to recognize and avoid potential hazards at all times around a turning tractor truck. 
  •  Section 11-1003.1 of the Illinois Motor Vehicle Code states that every driver of a vehicle must 1) always exercise care to avoid colliding with pedestrians and bicyclists, and 2) sound their horn to provide warning of an impending impact.
Chicago bicycle advocacy group Bike Lane Uprising is organizing a Human Protected Bicycle Lane on Milwaukee Avenue tonight (November 6, 2019) from 5pm to 7pm at the corner of Milwaukee and Kilbourn. Bike Lane Uprising is requesting volunteers to bring lots of lights and if to possible to bring signs. For more information on the Bike Lane Uprising Human Protected Bicycle Lane you can follow at this link

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Keating Law Offices Presents the 2019 Illinois State Cyclocross Championship

Keating Law Offices, a Chicago-based personal injury firm that devotes part of its practice to representing victims of bicycle collisions, is proud to be the title sponsor of the Keating Law Offices Illinois State Cyclocross Championship. The state championships will be held on Saturday, November 9, 2019 in Woodstock, Illinois. Cyclocross is the fastest growing bicycle discipline in the country and has seen exponential growth over the past decade. The sport is especially popular in Illinois where fall and winter climates are perfect for the races over fields and hills.

The Illinois Bicycle Lawyers at Keating Law Offices take great pride in being a law firm that fights for the rights of bicyclists in Chicago and throughout Illinois. Part of the firm’s commitment to bicycling in Illinois is directly sponsoring groups and events that promote and celebrate bicycling. The attorneys and staff at Keating Law Offices, P.C. are thrilled to present the Keating Law Offices Illinois State Cyclocross Championship. Keating Law Offices is also a sponsor the Chicago Cyclocross Cup and the Intelligentsia Cup.

Keating Law Offices is one of the top law firms in the United States committed to representing victims of bicycle crashes and their families. Unafraid of handling complicated bicycle-related lawsuits and claims, Keating Law Offices is the top law firm in Illinois devoted to representing victims of bicycle collisions. The firm and its attorneys have represented numerous victims of bicycle collisions in Chicago, the suburbs, and every corner of Illinois. Keating Law Offices has locations in Chicago’s Loop and in the West Town neighborhood on the Milwaukee Avenue bicycle lane. 

Keating Law Offices was founded in 2008 by attorney Michael S. Keating who is currently the Chair of the Bicycle Litigation Committee of the national American Association for Justice. The firm also publishes the well-known legal blog the Illinois Bicycle Lawyers.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

New Illinois Transportation Budget to Benefit Illinois Bicyclists

July 1, 2019 is a notable day in the history of transportation in Illinois. Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law a bill that puts $45 Billion towards state construction projects. Within that $45 Billion is $50 Million annually towards projects for pedestrians and bicyclists. This is a massive victory by the Active Transportation Alliance as well as other advocacy groups and the legislators who worked to get the bill passed an on the Governor's desk. 
The funding will work towards efforts to increase bike ridership and public transportation use across Illinois. The additional resources will substantially increase the size of the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP). Funds will be allocated via a competitive grant process and focus on the creation of projects such as pedestrian refuge islands, protected bike lanes, new bike and pedestrian trails via the conversion of abandoned railroad corridors, upgraded crossings, and additional safety infrastructure. Additionally, the bill requires that at least 25% of funding to be directed towards projects in “high-need communities, based on community median income and total property tax base”, thus providing access and increasing connections across the State.
Remaining Risks
Although the program is a tremendous leap forward, groups such as the Active Transportation Alliance recently mentioned that the bill is not perfect as, “It lacks a data-driven, performance-based planning process to allocate funds." The Active Transportation Alliance notes that there is a risk that funds could be allocated to roadway expansion leading to higher congestion in the long run.
Bicyclists and pedestrians understand that higher congestion not only poses a risk for more traffic, but a risk for their well-being as well. More people driving means more opportunities for crashes, injuries and deaths. In a recent release of statistics, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration noted that in 2017, 5,977 Pedestrians and 783 bicyclists were killed in accidents with motor vehicles in the United States. This is particularly disturbing as fatalities are on the rise. In 2003 pedestrians and cyclists represented 12.6% of total traffic fatalities and in 2017 that number rose to 18.2% of total traffic fatalities in the United States.
Aside from physical injuries, effects on health and the environment will inevitably occur as more cars will produce more pollution and contribute to the ever-increasing threat of climate change.  Thus, implementation of the funds is important and local and state officials must ensure that if resources will go towards encouraging drivers to take to the roads, they must also ensure that bicyclists and pedestrians will be protected. 
Illinois Moves Forward
Illinois has proven itself to be reasonably progressive when it comes to bicycle related infrastructure and laws to protect bicyclists. Reducing the number of bicycle accidents that result in personal injuries or fatalities should not be politicized. These efforts, for the most part, have been bi-partisan as seen in recent years with former Gov. Bruce Rauner signing "Dennis' Law" as well as a bill to promote the use of the "Dutch Reach." However, "money talks" and the funding that Illinois now has in play due to Gov. Pritzker's signature will create an opportunity to build safer and more accessible roadways and paths for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Illinois Increases Penalties for Texting While Driving

Starting July 1, 2019 drivers in Illinois will automatically be ticketed if caught texting, looking at social media, or even holding their phone while talking. Under the previous version of the law a police officer had the authority to issue a warning to a driver. Not any more. Now a police officer who catches someone using their phone in any way other than hands free is required to issue a traffic citation. 

And it is not just phones. Here's what Illinois law says about all the devices that are banned: 

"Electronic communication device" means an electronic device, including but not limited to a hand-held wireless telephone, hand-held personal digital assistant, or a portable or mobile computer, but does not include a global positioning system or navigation system or a device that is physically or electronically integrated into the motor vehicle."

Keating Law Offices Supports New Illinois Law 

Keating Law Offices founder Mike Keating said, 
"This should have been the law since the very beginning. Some studies have shown that texting while driving is as dangerous as drinking and driving. We have seen far too many of clients injured as the result of a driver with a phone in their hand. There is an easy fix to this problem and fortunately Illinois is taking a positive step towards fixing it. It is not dramatic to say that lives depend on it." 
Mike Keating was interviewed by the Chicago Tribune regarding this new law when it was first passed by the Illinois legislature. In addition to being a personal injury and wrongful death attorney representing clients in Illinois, Mike is also worked as an attorney in Illinois' capital and is currently a Chair of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association's Legislative Committee. 

Bicyclists Are Vulnerable 

Bicyclists and pedestrians are often referred to as "vulnerable users of the roadways." What this means is that pedestrians and bicyclists have very little protection if they get injured an accident. Unlike a car that has a steel cage, seatbelts and airbags, a pedestrian or bicyclist can get badly injured even in a "minor" collision that would be a fender bender between two cars. This is why it is particularly important that Illinois is taking these steps to reduce distracted driving in Illinois. 

Friday, June 21, 2019

Scooter Manufacturer's Own Instructions Show E-Scooters Not Suitable For Chicago's Streets

Ten different vendors are participating in Chicago's e-scooter pilot program. Included in these ten are the companies Bird and Spin who were earlier entrants into the marketplace. The phrase “a Bird” is often used as a general term for an e-scooter, even those that aren't the Bird brand. Both Bird and Spin use the same Xiaomi Mi Electric Scooters for their fleets of e-scooters. Remarkably, the "Mi Electric Scooter User Manual" makes several recommendations and identifies limitations that are incompatible with use on the often imperfect streets of Chicago. Since e-scooters are also operated amongst traffic, this puts not only the rider of the scooter at risk, but also other persons on the roadways and pedestrians.

E-Scooters Not To Be Ridden In The Rain Or Over 6 MPH On "Bumpy Roads"

The instructions specifically state that e-scooters are not to be ridden in the rain. The City of Chicago's Scooter Pilot Program calls for the scooters to be removed by the vendors from the city's streets every night at 10 p.m., but there are no requirements that the scooters be removed due to rain.

The instruction also specifically state that riders should only ride between 3.1 and 6.2 miles per hour on bumpy road or uneven surfaces. This is particularly concerning given the number of potholes and rough roadways in Chicago. 


E-Scooters Not To Be Ridden On Streets 

Perhaps the most befuddling of all of the e-scooter instructions is that they are not to be ridden in "traffic lanes" or residential areas where there is both vehicular and pedestrian traffic. This is essentially each and every Chicago street. And note the title of the page, "Do not try following dangerous actions." 


E-Scooters Not To Be "Lent" To Persons 
Who Don't Know How To Ride

This instruction from the user's manual really contradicts the business model of the e-scooter business. That business model is simple: in exchange for money let anyone rent one of the scooters. The issue is that there is no verification process of screening for who rents the scooters. 

Another notable instruction is that e-scooter riders are to give pedestrians the right-of-way. 

E-Scooters Not To Be Left Outside

The City of Chicago's pilot program calls for the e-scooters to be left outside on the city's streets from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. when the vendors are supposed to retrieve them. This means that the scooters are left outside for 17 out of the 24 hours in the day for each and every day. This is despite the fact that right on Page 13 the instructions explicitly state that the scooter are to be stored indoors and not left outside for long periods of time. 

Chicago, Illinois Personal Injury Attorneys

Keating Law Offices founder and principal attorney Mike Keating has been at the forefront of advocating for safety from e-scooter companies. Mike was invited by the American Association for Justice to speak to the attendees of the 2019 AAJ Winter Convention in Miami. Mike's subject was Bike Share and the emerging threats posed by E-Scooters. The speech was entitled "Looking Beyond Automobiles: Bicycles and Electric Scooters." Mike also objected to the City of Chicago's plans to allow e-scooters in bike lanes and predicted that this was to allow for-profit companies to rent e-scooters on Chicago's streets. It is the mission of Keating Law Offices to help protect Chicagoans and to prevent companies from placing profits over people. 

The attorneys at Keating Law Offices are available for free legal consultations with anyone who has been injured while riding an e-scooter or as a result of the use of an e-scooter. All consultations are without any obligation and are 100% confidential. The firm can be reached at 312-239-6787 with operators available around the clock outside of normal business hours. You can also email the firm at Info@KeatingLegal.com


The Problems With Chicago's E-Scooter Pilot Program

“Public transportation” has traditionally consisted of buses, subways and light rail systems. Just as every other aspect of modern life has been affected by technological advancements with smart phones and apps, access to transportation options has expanded. New types of “alternative transportation” allows for the rental of different types of vehicles. What began with rental bicycles that could only be accessed from a fixed dock has expanded into other forms of bicycle share programs (bikeshare) that do not utilize a dock and also the emergence of electric assist bikes (e-bikes) and now standing electric scooters (e-scooters). 

Standing Electric Scooters

Standing electric scooters (e-scooters) have seen explosive growth. The companies Bird and Lime were earlier entrants into the marketplace and the phrase “a Bird” is often used as a general term for an e-scooter. Bird and Spin use the same Xiaomi Mi Electric Scooter for their fleets. E-scooters are not only dockless but due to a size differential to a bicycle they can be more easily moved. And they are relatively quick with speeds of approximately 15 miles per hour which is five times the average walking speed of three miles per hour. 

By design, electric scooter rentals allow anyone to rent a scooter, ride the two-wheeled vehicle for a short trip and then leave it wherever the renter decides to leave it. There are no docks for electric scooters. Just about anyone can rent one of the vehicles. There is absolutely zero screening or training for riders. There is also no direct supervision as to how the vehicles are ridden. This leads to a wide array of skill and experience levels on rented bicycles and e-scooters in Chicago's streets and bike lanes.

E-scooters are available for rental in Chicago without any test, any skills screening, and absent any interpersonal interaction before the renter takes it out onto the roadways. The entire transaction happens independently and digitally. The attorneys at Keating Law Offices are concerned that there may be a lack of accountability for injuries from e-scooters. Emerging research has shown that the risk for injuries and death due to the use of these rental vehicles is substantial.

Chicago's Rules for E-Scooters

The City of Chicago claims that this is just a pilot program for e-scooters. You can find the details on the City of Chicago's Pilot Scooter Program here. Here are the general rules for the program: 

  • Scooters will be removed each night after hours of operations (5am to 10pm) by the vendors. There are no details about what will be done in extreme weather conditions or if the scooters will be inspected during the hours of operation. 
  • The pilot will run from June 15 to October 15, 2019.
  • The scooters will only be available in the pilot area and are not allowed downtown. The scooters are purportedly "geofenced" meaning they will stop working if taken outside the area.
  • Scooters are not allowed on Chicago's sidewalks. They are only allowed on streets and bike paths within the pilot area.
  • Scooters must be parked "upright with a minimum of 6 feet clearance between the scooter and all public way obstructions." This appears to mean that the scooters should not be left in the way of traffic. 
  • Scooters cannot be parked "within 10 feet of street corners or intersections, or along building facades or block fire hydrants, bus stops, loading zones of building access points."
  • Each scooter is equipped with warning bells and front and rear lights.
  • Mayor's Office of People with Disabilities (MOPD) will be working with other City departments to monitor the impact of the scooter program on the disability community.
The City of Chicago also wants the public to take a role in policing the e-scooters. The website states that "If you find any scooters not properly parked, blocking the public way, contact the vendor directly. Vendor contact information is found on each scooter.  Vendors are required to remedy any scooter not properly parked within two (2) hours, 24 hours per day, seven (7) days a week." However, there is no information as to how or when any action will be taken to ensure that the e-scooters are in fact remedied within two hours. 
10 Vendors Selected To Participate In Pilot Program

Bird 
Bolt 
gruv 
JUMP 
Lime 
Lyft 
Sherpa 
Spin 
VeoRide
Wheels 

E-Scooters Can Be Dangerous

While most Americans learned to ride a bicycle at some point in their life, the experience of riding an e-scooter is entirely new to many riders. The e-scooter is also operated amongst traffic and on roadways not necessarily designed for the use of the two-wheeled device. This puts not only the rider of the scooter at risk, but also other persons on the roadways and pedestrians.

A standing electric scooter poses many similar risks of injury as those bicyclists face. A 2019 Journal of theAmerican Medical Association (JAMA) article analyzed the medical records of 249 patients involved in standing electric scooter at two urban emergency rooms in Southern California between September 1, 2017 and August 31, 2018. Just as with bicycles, there are specific injury patterns:

  • The riders’ heads were the most often injured body part with 40.2% reporting a head injury. This was consistent with only 4.4% of the riders documented as wearing a helmet.
  • Fractures accounted for nearly a third of the injuries with 31.7% of riders suffering a break.
  • Other injuries such as contusions, sprains and lacerations independent of a fracture or head injury accounted for 27.7% of the documented injuries.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) participated in a study with Austin, Texas to look into the risks of injury for riding an e-scooter. The Austin study found that 58% of the e-scooters riders suffered an injury. The study also found that of those injured 1 in 5 (20%) needed a hospitalization. The study found that of those injured 45% suffered a head injury, 27% an upper extremity fracture, and 12% a lower extremity fracture. The majority (52%) of e-scooter injury incidents occurred in the street, 29% involved first-time riders, 18% involved motor vehicles. Fewer than 1% of e-scooter riders interviewed reported helmet use. The CDC found that based on 130 confirmed injury incidents, the e-scooter related injury incidence rate was 14.3 injured riders per 100,000 3e-scooter trips.

Chicago, Illinois Personal Injury Attorneys

Keating Law Offices founder and principal attorney Mike Keating has been at the forefront of advocating for safety from e-scooter companies. Mike was invited by the American Association for Justice to speak to the attendees of the 2019 AAJ Winter Convention in Miami. Mike's subject was Bike Share and the emerging threats posed by E-Scooters. The speech was entitled "Looking Beyond Automobiles: Bicycles and Electric Scooters." Mike also objected to the City of Chicago's plans to allow e-scooters in bike lanes and predicted that this was to allow for-profit companies to rent e-scooters on Chicago's streets. It is the mission of Keating Law Offices to help protect Chicagoans and to prevent companies from placing profits over people. 

The attorneys at Keating Law Offices are available for free legal consultations with anyone who has been injured while riding an e-scooter or as a result of the use of an e-scooter. All consultations are without any obligation and are 100% confidential. The firm can be reached at 312-239-6787 with operators available around the clock outside of normal business hours. You can also email the firm at Info@KeatingLegal.com

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Keating Law Offices Sponsors the 2019 Bike To Work Challenge


Keating Law Offices is once again the presenting sponsor of the Active Transportation Alliance's Bike To Work Challenge. The two-week challenge encourages Chicagoland companies and organizations of all sizes to track their miles commuting by bicycle to see how many car free miles can be logged. Keating Law Offices has long been a supporter of the Active Transportation Alliance and its efforts. 

The firm is committed to supporting initiatives like the Bike To Work Challenge that support cycling and advocate for safe streets. The Bike To Work Challenge is a two week event from June 14th through June 28th with Pit Stops throughout the challenge at a number of exciting locations. 

The first Pit Stop will be held at Keating Law Office's West Town location on Friday, June 14th starting at 5pm. KLO-West Town is conveniently located at 825 North Milwaukee Avenue right on the Milwaukee Avenue bike lane. KLO's Pit Stop is free and open to everyone in Chicago's bike community. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Keating Law Offices Participates in Bike The Drive

Keating Law Offices once again supported the Active Transportation Alliance's annual Bike The Drive by participating in the Post-Ride Festival in Grant Park. Attorney Mike Keating was at the event. The firm handed out free red bicycle lights to riders. These "blinky lights" proved to be very popular. 

Firm founder Mike Keating said, "It's great to see our handout to be so popular, but truly the best part is knowing that each of these lights helps make our bicyclists more visible when riding at night. Knowing that makes it especially rewarding.

Keating Law Offices is a longtime supporter of the Active Transportation Alliance. The firm is also sponsored the Winter Bike to Work rally and the upcoming Bike To Work Challenge.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

What Does Cycling Mean To You? Team behind "Afghan Cycles" doc wants to hear from YOU!


The documentary team behind "Afghan Cycles," a powerful story about women cyclists in Afghanistan, is looking for short videos from Chicago cyclists about what cycling means to you. The documentary is by Sarah Menzies. They are putting together a video segment in advance of the International Day of the Bicycle on June 3rd. Your video wants to hear about your name and your personal affiliation to cycling. 

"Afghan Cycles" is by Sarah Menzies.  The documentary crew is asking you to email any 60 second or less videos to producer Caryn Capotosto at caryncappuccino@gmail.com. Caryn is a Chicago-area native and graduate of Columbia College. She was a producer on the Oscar-winning "20 Feet From Stardom" and the Mr. Rogers documentary "Won't You Be My Neighbor." 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Keating Law Offices Co-Hosts Bike Lane Uprising's Day of Service

Bike Lane Uprising, a volunteer effort among Chicago bicyclists to fight for safer bike lanes, held a "Day of Service" last Sunday. The day was a giant succeess. The "Day of Service" involved Chicago bicyclists volunteering to "adopt" a segment of Chicago's bike lanes. The volunteers then documented the bike lane conditions and then submitting their findings to Bike Lane Uprising. All of this data will be presented to the Chicago Department of Transportation for the purpose of helping them identify which bike lanes need improvement. A remarkable 90% of Chicago's bike lanes were adopted by volunteers.

Keating Law Offices co-hosted the event. The "Day of Service" began at the firm's West Town Office located at 825 North Milwaukee Avenue where volunteers had a meet-up prior to hitting the streets. The firm's West Town Office is in addition to the firm's main office in the Loop. The day ended with an after-party at Logan Square's Rocking Horse where the volunteers met to recap the day and celebrate the success of the "Day of Service."

Keating Law Offices is the premiere personal injury law firm representing victims of bicycle accidents in Illinois. The firm is based in Chicago, Illinois and represents clients throughout Illinois. If you have any questions regarding this post or have a question regarding personal injury law, please contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Mike Keating at 312-239-6787 (Office) or 312-208-7702 (Nights/Weekends). Our staff and operators are available around the clock. You can also email Mike@KeatingLegal.com 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All e-mails and phone calls are returned promptly. All initial consultations are confidential and free.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Ride of Silence - Chicago is TONIGHT May 15, 2019 at 6pm at Daley Plaza

The Ride of Silence - Chicago is tonight, Wednesday May 15th. Riders should gather at the Picasso at Daley Plaza in advance of leaving around 6:30 p.m. The ride moves silently and slowly as a group through Chicago. It stops along the way at Ghost Bikes to honor Chicagoans who lost their lives while cycling. 

In addition to honoring the lives of these Chicago cyclists, the ride also serves to send a message to all Chicagoans that our city's streets need to be safe for cyclists. The ride serves as a reminder that we can always work to improve the safety of Chicago streets and bicycle infrastructure. 

Keating Law Offices is hosting the post-ride event at our West Town location at 825 North Milwaukee Avenue. The event is free and will include pizza and beverages. Everyone is welcome to attend. Vision Zero Chicago will also be at the post-ride event to promote its mission of eliminating injuries and deaths on Chicago's streets. 

Click here to go to the Ride of Silence - Chicago website for more information. The Ride of Silence - Chicago is always the third Wednesday in May.

Keating Law Offices is the premiere personal injury law firm representing victims of bicycle crashes in Chicago and throughout Illinois. The firm is proud to support the efforts of Ride of Silence - Chicago and Vision Zero Chicago. 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Keating Law Offices to Co-Host Bike Lane Uprising’s Day of Service

Bike Lane Uprising Day of Service - 5/19/19
Keating Law Offices is proud to co-host Bike Lane Uprising’s Day of Service. The Day of Service is an effort to document the conditions of bike lanes throughout the city and report the conditions to the City of Chicago. This effort will provide the City of Chicago legal notice as to any dangerous defects or conditions. The effect of the day of service will help the City of Chicago prioritize its efforts in maintaining bike lanes and lead to fewer dangerous conditions in Chicago's bike lanes.

The date for the Bike Lane Uprising Day of Service is May 19, 2019. While the mission is service, the Day of Service will be a fun day. We will meet at Keating Law Offices’ West Town Office for donuts and coffee. We will then head out for a few hours to inspect and document bike lanes. We will then re-group for drinks and eats at a post-event party.

Please help spread the word. You can find more information by visiting Bike Lane Uprising’s website here. And please help promote the Day of Service by using #BLUDayofService on social media.

Keating Law Offices is the premiere personal injury law firm representing victims of bicycle accidents in Illinois. The firm has two locations in Chicago. The Loop office is located on the Washington Street bike lane at 111 West Washington Street. And the West Town office is located right on the Milwaukee Avenue bike lane at 825 North Milwaukee Avenue. The firm is committed to Chicago’s cycling community and advocating for safe cycling.

Monday, April 8, 2019

IN THE NEWS: Attorney Mike Keating Quoted in Chicago Tribune on Dangers of Distracted Driving


IN THE NEWS: Keating Law Offices attorney Mike Keating was quoted in the Chicago Tribune about the dangers of distracted driving. Distracted driving is an increasingly dangerous habit among many drivers. The dangers posted by distracted driving are particularly dangerous to vulnerable users of the roadway such as pedestrians and bicyclists. 
Here's the quote from the Chicago Tribune:
"Mike Keating, a personal injury attorney who often represents injured bicyclists, said that if any police agency does not enforce the laws against distracted driving, it defeats the purpose." 
“These laws have to act as a deterrent to keep people from texting on their phones,” Keating said. “They have to be punished for behavior that is literally deadly.”

Keating said that like drunk driving, distracted driving involves a choice. “These things don’t happen by accident,” Keating said. “If they choose to have their phones out and look at social media or text, that’s a choice that puts them in a more dangerous mind-set than they otherwise would be. That’s unfortunately not that far off from someone who consumes too many drinks.”
The Chicago Tribune article was written by long-time transportation reporter Mary Wisniewski. 

Keating Law Offices is the premiere personal injury law firm representing victims of bicycle crashes in Illinois. The firm is based in Chicago, Illinois and represents clients throughout Illinois.

Monday, March 25, 2019

E-bikes and E-Scooters Are Coming: CDOT Pushes for Electric Powered Transit

March 2019 Chicago Mayor's Bicycle Advisory Committee Meeting
The Chicago Department of Transportation is pushing the City of Chicago to implement changes that will allow for more e-bikes and e-scooters on the city's streets and in our bike lanes. This is no doubt in large part due to the City of Chicago agreeing with Lyft for the ride share giant to take over the city's successful Divvy bike share program. 

At the March 2019 Mayor's Bicycle Advisory Council meeting, CDOT officials and Lyft representatives discussed how Lyft will incorporate e-bikes into the Divvy fleet. Lyft has also played a role in pushing e-scooters onto Chicago's streets. Theses proposed CDOT changes will also allow for privately owned e-bikes and e-scooters to take the streets - and to Chicago's bike lanes. 


Lyft To Provide Divvy E-Bikes

The changes to the City of Chicago ordinance regarding "low speed electric bicycles" creates different classes of e-bikes. There will be three different classes based on whether the rider assists by pedaling and the overall speed of the bicycle. 

CDOT proposed the following: 
"Low-speed electric bicycle" means a bicycle, except equipped with an electric motor of less than 750 watts that meets the requirements of one of the following classes:  
"Class 1 low-speed electric bicycle" means a low-speed electric bicycle that weighs less than 125 pounds and is equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches a speed of 20 miles per hour.  
"Class 2 low-speed electric bicycle" means a low-speed electric bicycle equipped with a motor that can be used as the sole means to propel the bicycle and that is not capable of providing assistance when the bicycle reaches a speed of 20 miles per hour.  
"Class 3 low-speed electric bicycle" means a low-speed electric bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches a speed of 28 miles per hour, or is a Class 1 low-speed electric bicycle that weighs 125 pounds or more. 
A "low speed electric bicycle" is not a moped or a motor-driven cycle."
We are of the opinion that low-speed electric bicycles can be an asset to Chicago's bicyclists. They are particularly beneficial to those riders whose ability levels and functional levels might otherwise be limited by a pedal only bicycle. These e-bikes, if properly regulated, should integrate into Chicago bicycle system and provide greater access to everyone. 

E-Scooters

E-scooters are an entirely different device and an entirely different story. Keating Law Offices opposes CDOT's efforts to push e-scooters as an alternative to the already existing and successful bike share system. The CDOT proposal lays the groundwork for the entry of electric scooters, commonly called "e-scooters," into Chicago bike lanes. 

At the March 2019 Mayor's Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting, CDOT representatives stressed that initially e-scooters will only be those that are privately owned. But this is just a Trojan Horse plan where ultimately Lyft will be allowed to flood Chicago's streets with rentable e-scooters. 

This is the text of the proposal: 
"Low-speed electric mobility device" means a device which: (i) has no operable pedals (ii) is no more than 26 inches wide: (iii) weighs less than 100 pounds: and (iv) is powered by an electric motor that is capable of propelling the device with or without human propulsion at a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour on a paved level surface."
These e-scooters will allow anyone to ride one of these devices in Chicago's bike lanes and for kids to ride them on the city's sidewalks. But these e-scooters are not toys. The manufacturer of most e-scooters, Xiamo, states that their e-scooters can go up to 15-miles per hour. This is five times (500%) of the average person's walking speed. 

E-Scooters Are Dangerous

E-scooters have proven dangerous. A recent Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) article analyzed the medical records of 249 patients involved in standing electric scooter at two urban emergency rooms in Southern California between September 1, 2017 and August 31, 2018. Just as with bicycles, there are specific injury patterns:

  • The riders’ heads were the most often injured body part with 40.2% reporting a head injury. This was consistent with only 4.4% of the riders documented as wearing a helmet.
  • Fractures accounted for nearly a third of the injuries with 31.7% of riders suffering a break.
  • Other injuries such as contusions, sprains and lacerations independent of a fracture or head injury accounted for 27.7% of the documented injuries. 
Keating Law Offices Opposes E-Scooters in Bike Lanes and on Sidewalks

Keating Law Offices attorney Mike Keating was invited by the American Association for Justice to speak to trial lawyers from throughout the country at the 2019 AAJ Winter Convention in Miami. Mike's lecture was a part of Continuing Legal Education to update and inform other trial lawyers about emerging risks to our clients. Mike's subject was Bike Share and the emerging threats posed by E-Scooters. The speech was entitled "Looking Beyond Automobiles: Bicycles and Electric Scooters." 

Attorney Mike Keating, who was a vocal opponent of this proposal at the March 2019 MBAC meeting, states:
"Chicago streets are already dangerous enough for bicyclists. We already face distracted drivers, potholes, and often inadequate infrastructure. Adding unlicensed, untrained and uninsured e-scooter riders to the City's streets is a recipe for disaster. The City of Chicago cannot and should not put profits over people and allow for rentable e-scooters. These devices will lead to cluttered sidewalks, clogged bikelanes, and a legitimate public health threat." 
Mike Keating's presentation was one month before the City of Chicago proposed these changes. Keating Law Offices works to remain on the forefront of legal issues related to bicycle and pedestrian safety. The firm will continue to monitor these changes and advocate for safe streets for bicyclists and pedestrians over Lyft's business interests. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Mike Keating Presents Lecture on Legal Issues Surrounding Bike Share and E-Scooters at Trial Lawyer Convention

Keating Law Offices attorney Mike Keating was invited by the American Association for Justice to speak to the attendees of the 2019 AAJ Winter Convention in Miami. Mike's subject was Bike Share and the emerging threats posed by E-Scooters. The speech was entitled "Looking Beyond Automobiles: Bicycles and Electric Scooters." Chicago's Divvy program is one of the nation's largest bike share systems. 

Mike's presentation was a part of a program of Continuing Legal Education where other trial lawyers from throughout the country learn about different areas of the law. This was a part of the convention's lecture series, "Specialized Track: Keep Your Eyes on the Road: The Latest Strategies in Litigation." 

Mike Keating is considered one of the nation's leading authorities on litigation and insurance claims related to bicycle crashes. This is the second time Mike has been asked to present on bicycle law to the American Association for Justice. The last time was in 2016 at AAJ's Annual Convention. In addition, last year his article "Bike Share Roadblocks" was published in Trial Magazine. Mike Keating has served as the Chair of the American Association for Justice's Bicycle Litigation Committee for the past five years. In addition to his work with AAJ, Mike is also a member of the Illinois Trial Lawyer Association's Board of Managers and one of its Legislative Chairs who works with legislators on legal issues. 

Monday, January 7, 2019

The "Dutch Reach" Becomes Part of Illinois Bicycle Laws

Illinois Department of Transportation data shows dooring crashes on the rise across the state. In 2015 alone there were more than 300 doorings reported. This number, which only represents those doorings that made it onto a police report, nonetheless represented a 50% increase from 2014. 

As part of an effort to fight the plague of doorings, the Illinois Secretary of State will now be required to include the "Dutch Reach" as a part of the Rules of the Road for Illinois motorists. The "Dutch Reach" is where a motorist opens the car door across their body with their right hand. This movement forces the the driver to turn their body and check over their left shoulder towards oncoming traffic. The goal of the "Dutch Reach" is to teach motorists to always check for bicyclists prior to opening their vehicle door into traffic and to prevent doorings. Keating Law Offices attorney Mike Keating was recently profiled in a CBS 2 Chicago story on the Dutch Reach.

Doorings Are Illegal

Section 11-1407 of the Illinois Vehicle Code and Section 9-80-035 of Municipal Code of Chicago prohibit opening a car door into traffic. Here's the Illinois dooring law:  
"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."
Bicyclists Have Equal Right to Illinois Roads

As clarified in the 2017 Illinois bike law known as "Dennis' Law," a bicycle is a vehicle under Illinois law and any reference to a "vehicle" or "traffic" includes a bicyclist. The trend of dooring has gotten worse. According to the available data from the Illinois Department of Transportation, doorings area plague to Chicago cyclists in particular. In 2015 there were 302 cases of doorings. There were 203 in 2014, 270 in 2013, 334 reported in 2012 and 336 in 2011, the first full year IDOT collected data on the number of doorings.

Teaching the "Dutch Reach" is an important step in making watching for bicycles at all times a common practice for all motorists. Just as every motorist is taught to "check their blind spot" when changing lanes, every motorist will be taught to look for bikes when exiting their vehicle. Each time, every time. And with that, we hope to see the number of doorings in Illinois decrease.