More and more, people are parking their cars and opting for economically friendly ways to get around town. Bike riding provides low-impact cardiovascular exercise while reducing dependence on gas. It is not all good news, though. More bike riders on the road means more bicycle accidents. One organization is looking to educate drivers and riders about the dangers. LOOK hopes to reduce the number of Chicago bike accidents by making residents more aware of bicycle safety.
Bike vs. Car Door
One of the more common bike accidents is when bike riders collide with an open car door. The driver parks his vehicle. As the biker rides down the street, the car door suddenly opens and the bike rams it. This type of collusion not only has the potential to injure the biker but also can cause legal problems for the driver.
One local woman was awarded 800,000 dollars when her bike hit a car door. Court records show she had a broken collarbone and nerve damage that affects the mobility of her arm. She lives with chronic pain in her elbow and decreased strength on that side.
The Illinois Department of Transportation Division of Traffic Safety reports 557 “doorings” throughout the city from 2009 to 2012. LOOK Chicago points out there were 13 incidents in Lincoln Square alone during that time. This is what prompted the organization to start a campaign to help prevent further issues.
The safety blitz had LOOK Chicago volunteers handing out flyers around town to promote awareness. This is on top of the safety measure already put in place by the city. The bike lanes in the Southport neighborhood, for example, are painted to let drivers know bikes might be coming down the street.
LOOK Chicago runs a website that offers safety tips for both bikers and drivers. Consider some ways door accidents are preventable.
- Use lights in the front and back of the bicycle
- Remain 3 feet away from parked cars
- Do not pass taxis on the right side
- Watch the road for brake lights and movement inside the vehicle
LOOK reminds bikers to check for traffic before swerving out of the way of an opening door. If on a busy road, brake and stop instead.
Drivers bear the legal responsibility to watch for bikes coming down the street. They are in a better position to prevent an accident than the bike rider.
Look at the bike lane before opening the door.
Get into the habit of pulling the handle with your far hand. For example, if getting out on the driver’s side, reach over with your right hand. This forces the body to turn and see an oncoming bike.
Dooring accidents are preventable in most circumstances. A driver who climbs out of the car without checking the road puts bikers at risk. With an increase in riders on the street, especially in larger areas, it is critical for organizations like LOOK to help spread the word and stop Chicago bike injuries.