Chicago’s Cyclists In Danger Biking City’s 100 Miles Of Bike Lanes

CHICAGO (CBS) — Accidents, injuries and fatalities in Chicago’s bike lanes – two women died while cycling in just the last month. Between potholes, problem drivers and vehicles blocking designated bike routes, CBS 2-Investigator Dave Savini shows significant dangers plaguing cyclists using the city’s 100- miles of bike lanes.

Despite the fact that city law prohibits city vehicles from parking in bike lanes unless they’re responding to an emergency, day after day, CBS 2 found U.S. Postal Service trucks in the middle of bike lanes.  Their trucks forced cyclists into traffic.

One postal driver said, “It’s like that sometimes when I can’t get up in here.”

CBS 2 found numerous other trucks also obstructing the lanes, ironically, even a Divvy bike van and Chicago Police squad cars, were found blocking cyclists.  

One postal worker would leave the truck for up to an hour.  However, she did move it after CBS 2 warned her.

When bike lanes are blocked, cyclists end up in traffic – a danger to them and drivers.

Another problem, CBS 2 found drivers cutting, or turning, into bike lanes right in front of cyclists.

A woman was killed on Milwaukee Avenue in August and another killed on Monday along Addison Street – both struck by trucks making turns.

Another problem involves drivers opening doors into cyclists.  Gasper Rivera was on a side street when he got nailed by a postal driver’s door, causing a serious leg injury.

“I got tossed completely over my bike,” said Rivera.  “My leg took most of the damage.”

Attorney Michael Keating represents Rivera.

“We’ve seen an exponential increase in bicycling,” said Keating.  “Just by share statistics, we are going to run into more problems like this.”

Keating also represents Aimee Zimmer, who was injured in a bike lane when a Chicago Police Officer opened his door.

“I still deal with repercussions from the injury because it’s a (sic), this is a traumatic brain injury,” said Zimmer.

Another cycling problem – potholes.  CBS 2 obtained 311 calls from 2015 and 2016, which show riders hitting bike lane potholes and suffering injuries ranging from stitches to neck and head trauma.

The complaints also show potholes not getting fixed for months – even a year.  Bike lane potholes on Illinois Street and Milwaukee Avenue, both reported last year, are still not fixed.

CBS 2-Investigators also found dangerous sewer covers with openings parallel to bike tires.  A cyclist injured at one on Lawrence Avenue, settled a lawsuit with the City of Chicago.  However, the problem cover is still there – five years later.

Back to the postal trucks, despite CBS 2’s warning five months ago, the same truck repeatedly parked in the bike lane – including last week.

A Postal service spokesman says they are reviewing their parking policy.

Divvy General Manager Elliot Greenberger, said,  “If any of our drivers are found to have parked in a bike lane, we take it very seriously and handle each incident on a case-by-case basis directly with that employee. It is against our company policy and against the law.”  

Chicago Police have issued just under 20 tickets for bike lane parking this year. That’s a $150 fine. It’s a $500 fine for a cyclist-vehicle collision.

The Chicago Department of Transportation issued the following state in response to the 2-Investigation:

We have made great strides in recent years increasing the number of protected bike lanes in the City of Chicago. The goal is to make it safer and easier for everyone to get around on a bike. City law prohibits parking in a bike lane, and we  encourage anyone who observes a violation to report it through the 311 system. City vehicles are not permitted to park in a bike lane unless they are responding to an emergency. In terms of repairing potholes and cave-ins in bike lanes, City crews work hard to respond to all complaints as quickly as possible.


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