Friday, July 14, 2017

Uber or Lyft in Bike Lane? City of Chicago Training PROHIBITS Ride Share Cars in Bike Lanes

For a lot of people trying to get around Chicago, rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber have a made a big difference when it comes to the ease and comfort of getting around the city by car. That is why it is ironic that many Uber and Lyft drivers routinely use dedicated bike lanes to pick up or drop off passengers. This repeated pattern by rideshare drivers forces bicyclists out of their dedicated space and into the lanes for motor vehicle traffic. This act is discourteous, dangerous and a great source of frustration for Chicago bicyclists. Most importantly, it is also illegal and against the training for ride share drivers. 

Chicago Ride Share Rules Are Designed to Protect Bicyclists

Section 9-115-150 of the Municipal Code of Chicago requires that all "transportation network drivers" (such as Uber, Lyft, etc.) to successfully complete an online or in-person transportation network driver training program. The program includes guidelines on safely picking-up and dropping-off passengers. Dangerous Driving Behavior No. 6: Safe Pick-Up and Drop-Off gives the following clear rules:
  • Passengers and driver cannot open car doors into traffic.
  • Drivers can NEVER stop, stand, or park in a bike lane. Passengers cannot be dropped off in a bike lane.
  • DOORING is opening a car door into the path of an oncoming cyclist. It is punishable by fines up to $1,000.
  • Pull all the way over to the curb when picking up or dropping off a passenger. DO NOT BLOCK travel lane.
Here are copies of the City of Chicago's "Transportation Network Driver Training Curriculum Components" 

Transportation Network Driver Training Curriculum Components - Page 1 of 2

Transportation Network Driver Training Curriculum Components - Page 2 of 2
Uber's Internal Instructions to Drivers is to Respect Bicyclists

Uber’s own “Where to Drive” webpage also advises drivers to "be cautious of bikers and to avoid driving in the bike lanes." Unfortunately, many Uber/Lyft drivers simply disregard these important instructions and all too often illegally infringe on bicycle lanes. Bicycle lanes were designed to enhance protection for bicyclists and make the road safer for everyone. However, bicyclists are still being injured way too often in their own specifically designated lanes. 

As referenced above, a very common bicycle accident involving Uber/Lyft drivers is a “dooring” because drivers drop off their passengers while being pulled over in the bicycle lane. Drivers are expected to safely cross the bicycle lane and pull over to the curb completely, so they can pick-up and drop-off their passengers safely without disrupting bicycle traffic.

City of Chicago and State of Illinois Laws Prohibit Doorings

In addition to Municipal Code of Chicago, the Illinois Vehicle Code also designates discharging a passenger into the bike lane as illegal. Section 11-1407 of the Illinois Vehicle Code states:

No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.” 
It is extremely important for drivers, and passengers alike, to be alert when they enter and exit vehicles. Bicyclists ride on the road to the right side of motor vehicle traffic, which forces them to ride very closely to the curb, or more often, very close to cars that are parked there. Common sense dictates that if someone suddenly opens their car door into the path of an oncoming bicyclist, the chance of them being able to stop in time and avoid colliding with the door is very minimal – and sadly, the injuries can be very catastrophic. By law, it is the driver’s and passenger’s responsibility to only open the car door when it is safe to do so, as the fate of avoiding a “dooring” is essentially in their hands.