The popularity of cycling for leisure, sport, and as a means of commuting to work or to run errands has grown to new heights. As far as safety against being exposed to the virus, it is difficult to find another activity which is more conducive to keeping a safe distance from others.
The Illinois Department of Public Health last week ranked recreational sports in terms of risk of virus transmission. The department classified cycling as a “LOWER” risk activity compared to football or competitive cheer for example, both of which ranked in the “HIGHER” risk category. In addition to cycling for leisure and exercise, many have taken to the bicycle as their primary means of transportation. This is evidenced by the fact that CTA rail and bus ridership has significantly decreased. I have witnessed firsthand a growing number of cyclists in and around the Chicago Loop area and bikes parked outside downtown office buildings and grocery stores.
In my 20 years of practice, I have represented a number of clients who have been injured while cycling. My clients have been hurt when they were struck by a car door opening into the bike lane. Other clients were struck by a car turning too close in front them not allowing enough time to stop or swerve away from the car. I also represented a client who suffered a head injury while using a Divvy bike which malfunctioned during her ride.
Over the years of working with many clients involving in cycling accidents, I’ve developed and compiled a list of safety practices. I’d like to share those with you:
- Wear a proper-fitting helmet.
There’s no question that my clients were spared a much more serious fate and injury because they were wearing a helmet.
- Learn the bike routes with a preference for streets with designated bike lanes.
Not all roads are equally safe to ride. Some streets have unsafe pavement and surfaces. Others do not allow enough clearance between the parking lane and moving traffic for a cyclist to safely ride.
- Watch out for opening car doors.
Assume that every car you are approaching has just parked and the door is about the swing open.
- Check that your bike is working properly.
I’m referring more to rented bikes such as a Divvy bike. Never use a Divvy bike which is showing an alert for a defect or in need of repair.
- Use a bike mirror.
The general rule for cyclists is that they should ride with vehicle traffic i.e. in the same direction of travel. Given this, it stands to reason that most of the cars will be approaching the cyclists from behind and often times quite closely. A mirror allows you to keep an eye on vehicles approaching from your “six”. If a driver appears distracted, you can take action e.g. stop, get on the sidewalk.
My list is not meant to be exhaustive. These are just some suggestions which helped my clients or could have made a difference in their incidents. The popularity of cycling for transportation or sport will only continue to grow during the pandemic. Some who have never thought to ride to work have now discovered the convenience of riding a bike to work. We want you to be safe.
Kevin T. Yen
Attorney – Strom & Associates, Ltd.