Illinois Bicyclists Encouraged to Take Measures to Improve Safety

Over the past few years, bicycling has grown in popularity for people of all ages. Not only does riding a bike provide an economical form of transportation, offer a greener option to motor vehicles, but also an accessible means for recreation. Unfortunately, it is also dangerous.

According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, more than 1,700 Illinois bicycle accidents, including Chicago area bicycle incidents, occurred in 2010. Of that number, 149 resulted in injuries and five resulted in fatalities. In 2009, the numbers nationwide were staggering-more than 50,000 bike riders were injured and more than 600 killed.

State and National Efforts to Improve Safety

To reduce the number of injuries and deaths associated with bicycling, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the American Automobile Association (AAA) jointly promote the “Roll Model” campaign. Aimed at adults nationwide, the program encourages them to set positive examples of safe bike riding, from obeying the rules of the road to always wearing a helmet.

The Active Transportation Alliance is also working to prevent bicycle accidents through education and advocacy efforts. In an article published in Medill Reports – Chicago, Jason Jenkins, education specialist at Active Transportation Alliance, said “currently Illinois has a law stating that motorists have to stop to give way to pedestrians in a crosswalk. We encourage bikers to do the same, as well as not riding on the sidewalk.”

Proactive Measures to Safely Share Public Spaces

Though all bicyclists may not regularly abide by traffic laws, they are not the only ones to blame for accidents. In fact, most crashes result from a vehicle turning in front of or into a cyclist. Other challenges come from inattentive pedestrians who step into the path of bicyclists and a lack of signage and bike lanes in public spaces.

Despite the challenges bicyclists face, they must help take an active role in safely sharing the roadways and walkways with drivers and pedestrians. To improve visibility, it is essential to wear a well-fitting helmet and brightly colored clothing and to outfit a bicycle with reflectors and approved lights. Also, bike riders must observe the rules of the road by yielding to pedestrians, obeying traffic signals and riding with the direction of traffic.

If a bicycle accident does occur and the rider is injured, it is important to consult with an experienced Illinois personal injury lawyer. The attorney will assist the injured party in working through insurance claims and, if appropriate, pursuing financial compensation from the person responsible for the accident.