Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Chicago Bicyclist Killed in Collision in North Damen Bike Lane

A 59-year old Chicago bicyclist was killed when the driver of a passing vehicle struck him in the 5100 block of North Damen Avenue in Chicago's Ravenswood neighborhood on Monday night. According to reports, the fatal crash occurred at approximately 8 p.m. This stretch of North Damen Avenue is immediately outside of Amundsen High School and has a clearly marked and designated bike lane.

The bicyclist was riding northbound when he was struck. News reports indicate that the driver of the Volvo motor vehicle was highly intoxicated with a reported .20 blood alcohol level which is two and a half times the legal limit in Illinois of .08.

The Chicago Police Department's Major Accidents Investigation Unit are investigating. Given the location of the crash outside of Amundsen High School there is a strong likelihood that there is video evidence of the crash. Based on the facts as reported, in addition to the issues with intoxication, the driver of the Volvo violated the following sections of the following bicycle laws in the City of Chicago and State of Illinois: 
  • Failed to maintain a safe minimum distance of three feet when passing a bicycle, contrary to and in direct violation of 625 ILCS 5/11-703(d);
  • Improperly overtook or passed on the left when such movement could not be made without interfering with the safe operation of the vehicle to be overtaken, contrary to and in direct violation of 625 ILCS 5/11-705;
  • Operated the vehicle so as to form an unreasonable obstruction to traffic, in violation of Section 9-40-130 of the Municipal Code of Chicago; and
  • Operated the vehicle in such a manner and in such a place so as to impede bicycle traffic, traveling in a portion of the roadway marked for the shared use of motor vehicles and bicycles, in violation of Section 9-40-060 of the Municipal Code of Chicago.
The fact that the driver was intoxicated would also be the basis for this to be a "reckless" act and should result in a felony charge by the Cook County State's Attorney's Office. This is based on a provision within the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/11-703(e) that enhances the penalty for crashes where the bicyclist is seriously injured or killed. Attorney Mike Keating authored legislation that was presented to the Illinois General Assembly to extend the ability of prosecutors to use this law in bicycle crash cases. 

This fatal crash once again raises issues surrounding the lack of a protected bicycle lane as opposed to simply the painted bicycle lane at the location of the crash.

Our most sincere condolences are with the family and friends of the fallen bicyclist. May he rest in peace.
Victims of bicycle crashes and their family should seek legal advice as soon as possible. The facts of this case present a strong case for a wrongful death action against the driver. In addition, given the presence of alcohol, there is the possibility to pursue punitive damages against the driver for the reckless conduct. A qualified personal injury attorney can help navigate the complex legal system and ensure that all rights are protected and critical evidence is secured.

Keating Law Offices is the premiere personal injury law firm representing victims of bicycle accidents in Illinois. The firm is based in Chicago, Illinois and represents clients throughout Illinois. If you have any questions regarding this post or have a question regarding personal injury law, please contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Mike Keating at 312-239-6787 (Office) or 312-208-7702 (Nights/Weekends). Our staff and operators are available around the clock. You can also email Mike@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.