A growing number of people across the United States are now regularly engaging in cycling, whether it be for transportation, exercise, or simply for casual leisure. However, many riders tend to overestimate their ability to be seen and heard by the vehicles they share the road with. As our days continue to grow shorter, lack of visibility can become a major factor in bicycle accidents; this make the fall a time for all cyclists to be especially cautious.
Over the weekend, a bicycle accident on the Far West Side of Aurora claimed the life of a 66-year-old woman. Officials from the Aurora Police Department say the crash occurred between 10:00-11:00am, at the intersection of Densmore and Virgil Gillman Trail. Preliminary interviews with witnesses indicate that the woman had been riding along the trail with a group of other cyclists when a southbound car passing through the intersection struck her from the side. An ambulance was called to the scene of the accident, transporting the victim to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead a short time later. Officials say that the cyclist was wearing a helmet at the time of the incident and that the driver of the vehicle remained at the scene. Police found no apparent signs of alcohol or drug use, and reported that no charges have been filed related to the accident. (Chicago Tribune)
Unlike passengers in car accidents, bicyclists have no steel frames, seat belts or safety technology to protect them from impact; for this reason, even low speed collisions have the potential for serious injury. If you are a cyclist, it is important that you use every opportunity at your disposal to ensure that you are able to see and be seen when on the road. Some options for increasing visibility can include wearing something that reflects light, or equipping your bike with flashing lights to make your presence known to the automobiles around you. Never assume that just because you can see a driver, he or she can see you. In the case of drivers, you can make a difference by always keeping an eye out for bicyclists in your blind spots and at intersections, as well as slowing down when passing bicyclists on the road. In urban centers such as Chicago, it is also especially important that drivers look before they open their doors when parking on the side of a street. Parked cars opening their doors abruptly is a frequent cause of accidents, as it forced bicyclists to swerve into traffic to avoid hitting your vehicle.
Our lawyers have spent more than 20 years handling bicycle accident lawsuits, and in that time we have successfully recovered millions of dollars in compensation for our countless clients. Still, by educating our readers on how they can keep themselves safe, we also hope to play a proactive role in preventing accidents in the first place.