Friday, July 17, 2020

13-Year Old Niles Bicyclist Killed In Crash By Marked Bike Route

13-year-old Sam Yousif of Niles died after he was struck by the driver of a Chevrolet Silverado pick-up truck while riding his bike in Niles. On July 16, 2020, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the teenage boy was crossing at the intersection of Waukegan Road and Cleveland Avenue when “he rode directly in front of a northbound 2014 Chevrolet Silverado.” However, the intersection of Waukegan Road and Cleveland Avenue is part of a clearly marked bicycle route in Niles. In fact, this stretch of Cleveland Avenue is regularly utilized by bicyclists who use it to access nearby Miami Woods and the North Branch Bicycle Trail. Cleveland Avenue has bright green "sharrows" and street signs indicating that bicycles are both permitted and intended at this location. 

Cleveland Avenue at Waukegan Road in Niles, IL
Waukegan Road at Cleveland Avenue has bright white crosswalks. There are also signs instructing drivers to watch for pedestrians and to yield. 
Waukegan Road at Cleveland Avenue in Niles, IL 

Rights of Bicyclists

The Illinois Vehicle Code states that a bicyclist will have all the rights of a pedestrian while crossing a roadway. Section 11-15-12(c) provides the framework: "A person propelling a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, shall have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances."

The intersection of Waukegan Road and Cleveland Avenue was marked for drivers to yield. As Illinois law provides that bicyclists will have the rights of a pedestrian in these circumstances, a driver should yield to the bicyclist. In fact, the Illinois Rules of the Road clearly state that a motorist must use due care around children and bicyclists. Section 11-1003.1 of the Illinois Vehicle Code states,

 "Drivers to exercise due care. Notwithstanding other provisions of this Code or the provisions of any local ordinance, 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 power and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child ...."

The 2020 informational packet published by Jesse White, Illinois Secretary of State called Rules of the Road states that “a driver must take care to slow down when approaching and crossing an intersection, going around a curve, approaching a top of a hill, or traveling down a narrow and winding roadway. A driver must be aware that there may always be dangers present due to pedestrians, bicyclists, traffic, weather, mechanical problems or road conditions.”

News outlets are engaging in clear victim blaming when they describe a bicycle crash as a person riding directly in front of a car, where in reality the driver was required by law to yield to the cyclist.

Gone Too Soon

In the end, a young man lost his life in a preventable crash. Our roads cannot be safe until drivers recognize the rights of bicyclists and the importance behind treating them with as much care as a pedestrian crossing the road. We are sending our sincerest thoughts and prayers for peace to this Sam Yousif's family. 

Our hearts go out to you in this time of sorrow.