Monday, September 26, 2016

Chicago Bicyclist Killed in Right-Hook Crash on Damen at Addison

According to reports, a Chicago bicyclist was killed in a crash with a commercial vehicle during rush hour this morning. The crash occurred as the bicyclist was riding northbound on Damen Avenue and approaching Addison Street. At the same time, what has been described as a "small, flatbed" truck was also travelling northbound on Damen Avenue and was in the process of turning right onto Addison Street. The collision apparently occurred at the intersection of Damen and Addison. 

Damen Avenue is marked with "sharrows" and is part of the City of Chicago's bikeways system. The image above shows the "sharrows" just south of Addison on Damen as well as signage that shows the direction and distance for bicycles to travel to four local locations.

Right Hook Crashes Are Prohibited by Chicago Bicycle Laws

Early indications are that this is a "right hook" crash where the driver was travelling in the same direction and then turned right across the path of the bicyclist. Chicago bike laws explicitly prohibits "right hooks" by turning vehicles and is addressed in Section 9-16-020 of the Municipal Code of Chicago. The bicycle 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.” 
Certain State and Federal Laws Address Duties of Truck Drivers

Since the vehicle involved was a commercial truck, there are also specific rules and regulations that may apply to the driver. The drivers of commercial trucks are expected to be professionals and drive with the utmost care. These drivers are typically required to carry a Commercial Drivers License (CDL). These rules and regulations exist not just in state and local laws, but also in federal regulations. 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.
A Loss of A Young Life

Chicago has seen a tragic number of deaths of bicyclists in 2016. It is important to remember that each of these incidents is more than a news story and certainly more than a statistic. Each of these bicyclists were a family member and friend to many. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the young lady who lost her life in this crash. May she rest in peace.