Friday, April 3, 2020

Deer Park, Illinois Driver Identified and Charged in Fatal Hit-and-Run Bike Collision in Barrington, Illinois

Nearly two years after a driver struck and killed an Illinois bicyclist, the driver who originally fled the scene is facing the criminal justice system. According to news reports, the Barrington Hills police department along with the Major Crash Assistance Team of Lake County located and identified the driver of a hit-and-run fatal bicycle collision that took place in Barrington Hills, Illinois on May 11, 2018. 

28-year old Rafal Ryndak of Schiller Park died as a result of injuries sustained in the crash. The driver has been identified as Tommy Walker III. With assistance of the Cook County’s states attorney’s office, Tommy Walker III was charged on Wednesday, April 1, 2020 with leaving the scene of an accident involving death. At this time there is no information as to whether additional charges related to the fatal crash are pending.

Illinois Law Requires Drivers Involved In Bike Crashes to Stay at Scene

Illinois law provides that a motorist has a responsibility under the law to stay on the scene of a crash. Back on May 11, 2018 around 10:00 p.m. bicyclist Rafal Ryndak, 28 of Schiller Park was riding his bicycle home. Rafal was riding on Route 59 just south of Route 68 in Barrington Hills, Illinois when the fatal crash took place. There are no reports as to the direction of travel of the motor vehicle at the time of the crash. However, witnesses reported the driver fleeing the scene. When Barrington Hills police arrived on scene, Rafal was tragically found to be unresponsive and was pronounced dead at the scene. 

In addition to however the crash took place, drivers in Illinois who are involved in a crash are also legally required to:

1) Stay at the scene of the crash long enough to provide the injured party with their information; and

2) If necessary or if requested to arrange for medical care for the injured bicyclist. 

Section 11-401(a) of the Illinois Vehicle Code provides the groundwork for the motorist: 
"The driver of any vehicle involved in a motor vehicle accident resulting in personal injury to or death of any person shall immediately stop such vehicle at the scene of such accident, or as close thereto as possible and shall then forthwith return to, and in every event shall remain at the scene of the accident until the requirements of Section 11-403 have been fulfilled."
Section 11-403 of the Illinois Motor Vehicle Code more specifically lays out the requirements any such motorist must fulfill before leaving the scene of a collision that leads to personal injuries: 
"The driver of any vehicle involved in a motor vehicle accident resulting in injury to or death of any person or damage to any vehicle which is driven or attended by any person shall give the driver’s name, address, registration number and owner of the vehicle the driver is operating and shall upon request and if available exhibit such driver’s license to the person struck or the driver or occupant of or person attending any vehicle collided with an shall render to any person injured in such accident reasonable assistance, including the carrying or the making of arrangements for the carrying of such person to the physician, surgeon or hospital for medical or surgical treatment, if it is apparent that such treatment is necessary or if such carrying is requested by the injured person."
Rather interestingly, in 2011 the law regarding hit-and-runs in Illinois was amended to allow the motorist to avoid prosecution for the hit-and-run by notifying the authorities within a half hour of the accident or within a half hour of being discharged from the hospital for an injury or incapacitation suffered in the crash. 

Section 11-401(b) of the Illinois Vehicle Code provides as follows:
"Any person who has failed to stop or to comply with the requirements of paragraph (a) shall, as soon as possible but in no case later than one-half hour after such motor vehicle accident, or, if hospitalized and incapacitated from reporting at any time during such period, as soon as possible but in no case later than one-half hour after being discharged from the hospital, report the place of the accident, the date, the approximate time, the driver's name and address, the registration number of the vehicle driven, and the names of all other occupants of such vehicle, at a police station or sheriff's office near the place where such accident occurred. No report made as required under this paragraph shall be used, directly or indirectly, as a basis for the prosecution of any violation of (staying at scene requirements)."
There is no reasonable excuse for a hit-and-run. Illinois law provides reasonable requirements for drivers who have been involved in a crash to stay involved. Even in instances where the driver is injured, there is still a window of time to legally report the crash.

Another Fatal Crash Involving an Illinois Bicyclist

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Rafal Ryndak. In addition to the massive loss involving in his wrongful death, there is also the tremendous insult of the driver not following the law and taking responsibility for his involvement in the crash. Not only did the driver not stay on the scene, but left behind a bicyclist who was fatally injured. Illinois law, let alone common decency, provides that we help those who have been injured. Rest in peace, Rafal. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Insurance Coverage: One-Way Bicyclists Can Provide Certainty In Otherwise Uncertain Times

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has announced that his Executive Order or what is otherwise known as the “Stay In Place Order” will continue through April of 2020. At this juncture, it is fair to say the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic remain largely unknown. Looking at the short-term, there stands to be financial impacts on most Illinois residents and businesses. The anxiety surrounding one’s personal expenses will continue to rise the longer the uncertain financial times remain. As financial stresses persist, the risk increases substantially that Illinois motorist’s insurance premiums will go unpaid causing policies to lapse. Even worse, is the possibility that some Illinois drivers may fail to purchase auto insurance at all despite the legal requirement to do so in order to drive a motor vehicle.

One-way Illinois bicyclists can guarantee protection, should they become a victim in a motor vehicle collision with a driver that has no insurance, is by carrying what is called Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist coverage. Insurance companies often refer to this as "UM/UIM" coverage. Uninsured Motorist Coverage is insurance that can be purchased through an insurance company that protects a person even if the other person who caused the accident did not have insurance. In other words, you are buying insurance as a "safety net" in the event the driver who caused a crash has no insurance. 

Even before the COVID-19 fallout, some estimates place the number of uninsured drivers in Illinois at one in five drivers. The exact number is difficult to track because drivers not only do not have insurance, but do not even have licenses. But it could mean that 1 in every 5 drivers on the roads does not have insurance. 

There is a similar and related type of insurance called Underinsured Motorist Coverage, which provides additional insurance coverage when the at-fault driver did not have enough insurance. Underinsured Motorist Coverage frequently comes into play when the driver who caused a crash has insurance, but only the minimum legally allowed of $25,000.00. For example, let's say a claim is worth $50,000.00 and the driver who caused the crash has $25,000.00 in insurance

It is important to note that even though the Uninsured Motorist claim is placed with the injured persons own insurance company, there is no guarantee that the insurance company will treat the injured individual any different than any other "claimant." Insurance companies make money by collecting more in premiums than they pay out in claims. "A claim is a claim" to many insurance companies and unfortunately there is a fight to obtain a fair resolution under the terms of your own insurance policy.

If you carry auto insurance, you can check the amount of Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Coverage you carry by checking your "Declarations Page" if you have it, by checking an insurance account with online access, or simply calling your broker. If you do not carry auto insurance, you can always ask a friend or family member to add you as an "insured" under their policy for this purpose. In these unprecedented times, we must do all we can to protect ourselves and alleviate any unexpected financial obligations. 

If you have any questions regarding this post or an issue involving Illinois personal injury law, please contact the firm at 833-CALL-KLO (833-225-5556) or email The firm's staff is currently working and are available for phone calls, video chat, e-mail or other communication if necessary. All e-mails and phone calls will be promptly returned, and all initial consultations are confidential and free. Please know that we are here to help, contact us anytime.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Can I Ride My Bike? The Role of Bicycling Under Governor JB Pritzker's "Stay In Place" Order

Governor Pritzker's Executive Order also known as the "Stay In Place Order"
On March 20, 2020 Illinois Governor JB Pritzker issued an "Executive Order In Response to COVID-19." What has been commonly referred to as the "Stay In Place Order" also details requirements for social distancing and outlines when certain activities are permissible. Governor Pritzker's power to take this extreme action stems from the powers vested in him as Governor of the State of Illinois under the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act. This Act allows Governor Pritzker to issue a "Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation" and take immediate action without any laws being first passed by the Illinois Senate and the House of Representatives as is typically required with a change in the law. 

An Executive Order under these circumstances is unusual in that disaster proclamations are most often scene in the wake of natural disasters like tornadoes and floods. However, given the scope of the coronavirus outbreak and its viral nature, Governor Pritzker was within his authority to take direct and immediate action. The Executive Order effectively controls the laws surrounding bicycling in Illinois during the pendency of the order. The order is currently in effect until Tuesday, April 7, 2020. 

Non-Exempt Travel By Bicycle Is Prohibited

The Order prohibits all travel, including travel by bicycle, as a part of the general order for Illinois residents to remain at home. However,  there are exemptions within the order. The exceptions are under "Essential Activities," "Essential Government Functions" and "Essential Businesses and Operations." In any event, the order also stresses that Illinois residents are to practice "social distancing" and to stay six feet from one another in the event they are permitted to leave their home. The exemptions related to bicycles are detailed below. 

Bicycling To Obtain Necessary Goods Permitted

It is important to remember that Illinois residents may still travel to get necessary supplies or food for themselves, family members, or other members of their household. This even includes supplies needed to work from home or any items needed around the house for safety or cleaning. Grocery stores and hardware stores are allowed to remain open. 

Bicycling for "Outdoor Activity" Permitted 
as an "Essential Activity"

Presumably as a part of efforts to keep people in their homes as much as possible, while the order does specifically exclude bicycling as a part of unnecessary travel, the order does permit bicycling "for outdoor activity." It appears that the order is making a distinction between a resident leaving their home to travel by bicycle when no exemption exists for them and riding a bicycle as a part of time spent outdoors. However, if one chooses to use a bicycle to get outside and get some fresh air. That is acceptable and after being cooped up inside your home - probably good for your mental as well as physical health. 

Bicycle Shops Deemed an 
"Essential Business and Operation"

Bicycle shops and "related facilities" are deemed an "Essential Business and Operation" under the order. The order does not detail what is a "related facility" to a bicycle shop, but a plain language reading of the order would suggest that it is any facility engaged in work to sell, service and repair bicycles. What is interesting about the language of the order is it appears that the words "bicycle shops and related facilities" were tacked onto the part of the order that is otherwise related to gas stations and automobile supply and repair locations. The inclusion of bicycle shops is no doubt the result of the typically excellent advocacy work by the Active Transportation Alliance which coordinated a campaign to allow bicycle shops to remain open as a part of "essential services." 

Use Good Judgment 

The purpose of this order is that while this is an extreme steps, taking this action now will prevent the coronavirus from spreading further. If the spread of the virus can be limited, this will allow our health care providers to provide the best possible care for those who have been inflicted with COVID-19. If you do have to leave your home for permitted travel, be sure to follow the requirements for social distancing as well as taking steps necessary to reduce the spread of germs. Remember, we are all in this together and a series of decisions, both big and small, will have an impact in how much this continues to effect our lives. 

Keating Law Office Remains In Operation

Keating Law Offfices, as a provider of professional legal services, is deemed an "essential operation" and remains open. The firm's staff is currently working and are available for phone calls, video chat, e-mail or other communication if necessary. Simply call the firm at 833-CALL-KLO (833-225-5556) or email This page is enabled with online chat that allows you to engage with a live operator. Please know that we are here to help, contact us anytime. 

Thursday, January 30, 2020

All Keating Law Offices Attorneys Named Super Lawyers for 2020

CHICAGO, IL (January 30, 2020) – All of the attorneys at Keating Law Offices have been named to the 2020 Illinois Super Lawyers and Illinois Rising Stars list. Super Lawyers makes its selections with a patented multi-phase selection process that evaluates each candidate on twelve indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement on an annual basis. Of all the attorneys in Illinois, only 5% of attorneys receive the distinction of being a Super Lawyer and only 2.5% of attorneys in Illinois receive the Rising Star designation.

Keating Law Offices' founder Michael Keating was named a 2020 Illinois Super Lawyer. Senior Associate Thomas Reuland and Associate Attorney Catelyn Viggiano were named 2020 Illinois Rising stars.
KLO founding attorney Michael Keating said, "Everyone at Keating Law Offices is proud of the fact that Super Lawyers has chosen to recognize all of our attorneys.  In particular, we are extremely grateful that the hard work and dedication of Tom Reuland and Catelyn Viggiano was illuminated. This recognition reflects our firm's commitment to our clients and our community at large. It also reflects the results we have been able to consistently deliver to our clients. Keating Law Offices' representation of our clients is a sacred obligation that we take very seriously."
About Keating Law Offices, P.C.

Keating Law Offices is a premiere personal injury and wrongful death law firm. The firm is based in Chicago, Illinois and represents clients throughout Illinois. If you have any questions regarding Keating Law Offices please contact the firm at 312-239-6787 (Office). Our staff and operators are available around the clock. You can also email 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All e-mails and phone calls are returned promptly. All initial consultations are confidential and absolutely free.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Keating Law Offices Presents the 2020 Winter Bike Rally

The annual Chicago Winter Bike Rally is again presented by the bicycle lawyers at Keating Law Offices. The Winter Bike Rally is one of the Active Transportation Alliance's events to celebrate cycling in Chicago. The Winter Bike Rally is Friday, January 24 from 7:00am to 9:00am in Daley Plaza.

This year’s weather is looking better than 2019’s sub-zero temperatures yet brisk enough to proudly show your commitment to year round bike commuting. Keating Law Offices will have swag bags of winter Chicago Bike Flag gear for the first 100 winter warriors who ride to the event. 

Keating Law Offices is the premiere personal injury law firm representing victims of bicycle crashes in Chicago and throughout Illinois. In 2019 the firm recovered over $7 Million for its clients. Also in 2019 all of the firm's lawyers were recognized for their work by the prestigious Leading Lawyers network and SuperLawyers which was published in Chicago Magazine. Keating Law Offices has two locations in Chicago's Loop and on Milwaukee Avenue in West Town. 

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

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


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

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.