Wednesday, July 17, 2013

CDOT's Bicycle Crash Analysis Reveals the Who, What, When, Where, and Why of Chicago Bike Crashes

The Chicago Department of Transportation recently released the "Chicago Bicycle Crash Analysis," a report examining trends in Chicago bicycle crashes from 2005 to 2010. During this period of time, there were 8,861 injury-causing bicycle collisions and 32 bicyclist fatalities in Chicago. The study analyzed both safety data on crashes, injuries and trauma from several sources as well as travel data to identify key concerns and to recommend strategies to lower the number of bicycle crashes in Chicago. The results of the study provide an interesting insight into Chicago bicycle crash trends.


The Chicago DOT's study analyzed common traits among the types of bicyclists and motorists who are most frequently involved in bicycle collisions. Among bicyclists, males accounted for 2/3 of the bicycle miles ridden in Chicago between 2005-2010 but accounted for 3/4 of the bicyclists involved in injury-causing crashes. In addition, male bicyclists accounted for two times the amount of bicycling fatalities compared to women bicyclists. The highest number of bicycle crashed occurred among male bicyclists aged 10-14 and 45-54.

Among motorists, men were behind the wheel in 64% of injury-causing bicycle collisions. In addition, male motorists were involved in 70% of fatal bicycle collisions, though female motorists were involved in the majority fatal crashes among motorists aged 55 and over. Among both males and females, drivers aged 25-44 were most likely to be involved in an injury-causing bicycle collision. 


During the six years included in the study, there were an average of 1,477 injury-causing bicycle crashes per year in Chicago, equating to an average of more than four injury-causing bicycle collisions per day. In addition, during the six years included in the study, there were an average of five bicycling fatalities in Chicago per year. Among bicyclists involved in collisions, 10% suffered "incapacitating" injuries, 52% suffered "non-incapacitating" injuries and 38% suffered "possible" injuries. Personal vehicles were involved in over 78% of bicycle crashes, while taxis were involved in just over 8% of bicycle crashes and city buses were involved in approximately 1.5% of bicycle crashes.


The majority of Chicago bicycle collisions during 2005-2010 occurred in the summer months from June through September. However, only 45% of all fatal crashes occurred during the summer months. There was no notable trend regarding the frequency of injury-causing bicycle crashes during the weekdays, though the number of injury-causing crashes spiked on Fridays. Sunday accounted for the lowest percentage of injury-causing crashes, but surprisingly accounted for the highest number of bicycling fatalities. With respect to time of day, the largest number of injury-causing crashes occurred between 4:00-7:00 p.m., but bicycle fatalities occurred most often between 8:00 p.m. and midnight.


From 2005-2010, Chicago's injury-causing and fatal bicycles crashes were most concentrated in neighborhoods just north and west of the Loop. In specific, approximately 37% of all injury-causing bicycle crashes and 34% of all fatal and serious bicycle crashes occurred in the area extending north through Lincoln Park to Lakeview and extending West through Wicker Park, Bucktown, and Logan Square. However, 1/3 of all miles ridden on bicycles in Chicago occurred in this area as well. There were also more bicycle collisions on major roadways extending from the Loop, including Milwaukee Avenue, Lincoln Avenue and Clark Street. Approximately 55% of all bicycle collisions occurred at intersections.


During the years included in the study, there was not a single cause accounting for the majority of bicycle crashes, but motorists' failure to yield accounted for 40% of all bicycle crashes. In addition, approximately 40% of all bicycle crashes occurred when bicyclists were traveling against traffic. At controlled intersections, the likelihood of being involved in a bicycle collision doubled when bicyclists crossed intersections against traffic signals.

Perhaps the most notable trend among Chicago bicycling fatalities related to bicycle helmet use. Of the 29 bicycling fatalities in Chicago between 2005-2010, only one of the bicyclists was wearing a helmet. In addition, 75% of bicyclists taken to trauma centers following a collision were not wearing helmets. Drunk driving was not a statistically significant factor in relation to bicyclist fatalities.

How - The Takeaway

The Chicago Department of Transportation concluded its report by discussing  a number of recommendations to help achieve its goal of reducing the number of bicycle crashes in Chicago by 50% over the next five years. The Chicago DOT's recommendations focus on five specific areas: (1) roadway design and engineering solutions, (2) education and marketing solutions, (3) data and reporting solutions, (4) enforcement solutions and (5) policy solutions, which are discussed at length in the DOT's report.

The Illinois Bicycle Lawyers at Keating Law Offices appreciate and fully support the efforts of the Chicago DOT to investigate the causes of the alarming number of bicycling collisions that occur in Chicago each year. As the leading Illinois firm in the field of bicycle litigation, we are routinely shocked by the circumstances resulting in our clients' injuries and believe that the vast majority of the collisions we see firsthand are preventable. We applaud the Chicago DOT in its strategic effort to take calculated steps to decrease the number of bicycling injuries and fatalities in our city.

If you have any questions regarding this post or an issue involving Illinois personal injury law, please contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Mike Keating at 312-208-7702 or 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All e-mails and phone calls are returned promptly. All initial consultations are confidential and free.