Sunday, August 2, 2015

sharing our roads safely - part 2

Are you familiar with Chicago laws related to bike and pedestrian safety?

Illinois is one of many states requiring that drivers leave 3 feet or more of clearance when passing a cyclist.  Most states now have anti-dooring laws, which hold vehicle occupants (driver or passenger) liable if they injure a cyclist by opening vehicle doors into the cyclist's path of travel. Chicago also has laws holding drivers responsible for causing cyclist injuries by turning left or right in the cyclist's path.

It's not a bad idea to review Illinois Rules of the Road once in a while.  Lots of folks seem to forget one of the most basic concepts: right of way.  See p.22: "When two vehicles on different roadways reach an uncontrolled intersection at the same time. The vehicle on the left should yield to the vehicle on the right."  This is true for cars AND bicycles, for uncontrolled intersection and 4-way stops.

p. 40: bicycles. "When a motorist is turning left and there is a bicyclist entering the intersection from the opposite direction, the driver should wait for the bicyclist to pass before making the turn. Also, if a motorist is sharing the left turn lane with a bicyclist, stay behind them until they have safely completed their turn."  A collision when a left turning driver hits a cyclist (left cross) from the side - or cuts them off - can also result in very serious, life-changing injuries. Please be aware of ALL nearby traffic when making a turn.  

If you're on a bike, sometimes it's safer to wait for the next green light rather than zipping through on a yellow light. Some left hook crashes could be prevented by waiting. Crashes from this type of scenario can be especially hazardous to the cyclist because riding speed/speed of impact is likely to be high, greatly increasing the risk of injury.

"If a motorist is turning right and a bicyclist is approaching on the right, let the bicyclist go through the intersection first before making a right turn. Remember to always signal when turning."  A collision when right-turning vehicle cuts off or collides with a cyclist is called a right hook. This is one of the most common types of bike crashes and can result in very serious injuries, especially if the cyclist ends up getting knocked underneath the vehicle.

"At night do not use high beams when you see an oncoming bicycle rider."  Most of the time there is no need for high beams in city traffic, but I see them (or poorly aligned headlights) all too often in the neighborhood. These can temporarily blind an oncoming person on a bike, rendering them unable to see hazards for a short time.

If you're a passenger in a taxi, you can be held liable if you cause injuries to a cyclist by opening a car door into the cyclist's path of travel. Here's how to exit a cab safely.

When pedestrians are attempting to cross a street in a crosswalk or at an intersection, let's yield as much as possible whether we're driving or riding bikes. A more pedestrian-friendly neighborhood means better quality of life and more vitality in our business districts.

If all of us make an effort to be more aware of what's happening on the streets around us, whether we're driving, riding a bike, running or walking, we can all be safer and improve the odds of getting where we're going safely.

No comments: