Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bicyclist Killed in Bike Accident on South Side of Chicago

News outlets are reporting on a tragic accident on the South Side that resulted in a 23-year old woman dying as a result of the injuries she sustained in a bike accident when she collided with an ice cream truck. The bicycle accident occurred on the early evening of July 12. The woman was riding her bicycle eastbound on 87th Street and collided with the truck as it was heading northbound on Cottage Grove Avenue. The intersection of 87th St and Cottage Grove Ave receives a significant amount of traffic, representing a juncture for two arterial roads that feed in and out of the Dan Ryan Expressway and the Chicago Skyway.

The cyclist apparently hit the driver's side front door and sustained multiples injuries upon falling to the ground. However, what is not known or been disclosed is which party involved in the accident caused the bike accident. The Major Accident Investigation Unit of the Chicago Police Department is said to be investigating the bicycle accident. 

The 23-year old woman was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where she was dead that same night. The driver of the ice cream truck, a 29-year old woman, was cited with four separate citations: driving with a suspended or revoked license, driving without proof of insurance, driving without the proper vehicle driver's classification, and driving an unsafe vehicle.  

The Chicago Tribune reports the 29-year old motorist has a history of previous encounters with law enforcement. In addition to two speeding tickets and a citation for backing up in a prohibited area, the woman had her license suspended in 2010 after being convicted for not having insurance. The license was suspended again the following year when she did not procure the high-risk insurance that was required by the state of Illinois. Driving with a suspended license is a serious criminal offense in the state of Illinois. The driver of the vehicle is scheduled to appear in traffic court on September 4. 

Bicycle accidents like this are often viewed as an unfortunate reality of bicycling. However, there are steps that cyclists can take to reduce the risk of a bicycle accident. One way bicyclists can reduce the risk of a bike accident is to take the time to pick the safest route. "Safe" is a relative term, but there are certain factors like infrastructure, congestion, and visibility that go into a roadway being "safe" for bicyclists.

For example, looking at the intersection of 87th St and Cottage Grove there are some factors that make it a less than ideal for bicyclists:
  1. No bike lane markings.
  2.  Lane markings for motor vehicles are badly faded, placing even more responsibility upon the driver's visual judgments when passing cyclists. 
  3.  Roads wide enough for two cars with no lane markings can create ambiguous and uncertain driving behavior. 
  4. Street parking and frequent bus stops create gaps and blind spots for motor vehicles, increasing the risk for a bicycle accident.
While it is sometimes necessary and unavoidable to take streets that have these warning signs, it is important that as bicyclists we be extra mindful of driver behavior while biking on these types of roads. We all have to remember that while bicyclists are permitted users of the roadways, that we are at a major disadvantage in terms of safety equipment. No situation is perfectly safe, but we can be vigilant in protecting ourselves.

The Illinois Bicycle Lawyers at Keating Law Offices have handled numerous intersection-related cases like this that resulted in a bicycle injury or death. If you have any questions regarding this post or an issue involving a bicycle accident or Illinois personal injury law, please contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Mike Keating at 312-208-7702 or MKeating@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.