There were over 300 cases of cyclists injured in Chicago by crashing right into open car doors in the year 2015, which is almost a 50% increase from 2014.
The Illinois Department of Transportation stated the 302 dooring cases that were reported that year rose from 270 in 2013 and 203 in 2014 but dipped from the reported 336 in 2011 and 334 in 2012.
Reasons for Cyclists Injured in Chicago and Improving Safety
The growing number of cyclists in the Windy City should be concerned about the number of people getting hit by doors of parked cars. A bike rider and president of the online networking site for cyclists in Chicago, Chainlink, Yasmeen Schuller, said that all cyclists actively worry about getting doored by people exiting their parked cars and keep an eye out.
She said that she has had to ride closer to traffic in order to avoid open car doors, adding that while it is not the safest feeling to ride so close to traffic, it is still better than getting doored and potentially suffering a serious injury.
Bicycling Magazine gave Chicago the name of “America’s Best Bike City” for 2016 in September, citing the city’s investment in infrastructure that is specifically designed for improved cyclist safety and its bike accessibility initiatives like the bike-sharing membership plan meant for low-income residents rolled out by Divvy.
However, with the growing number of cyclists injured in Chicago, the city has launched a plan called Vision Zero Action Plan in an effort to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries. The plan’s focus is on education, infrastructure, and enforcement.
Recently, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation, the Windy City distributed flyers to ride-hailing and taxi companies and at bike safety events with information on pedestrian and bike laws as well as tips for motorists on the different ways to avoid collisions with bikes.
These tips include opening the door on the driver’s side by reaching for the handle with the right hand so that the driver is forced to turn and look behind to see if there are any oncoming bicycles, cyclists passing parked cars at a safe distance of a minimum of 3 to 5 feet and avoiding driving or parking in bike lanes.
The main problem lies in the fact that dooring crashes haven’t been integrated with main crash data. However, a number of measures are being taken to reduce these accidents. Since 2011, Chicago has added more than 100 miles of bike lanes that are protected with barriers like bollards and concrete curbs, or extra space that provides a buffer between the parked cars and bike pathway.
Additionally, the Windy City provides window decals to taxis so that passengers are reminded to check the road before exiting the cabs. The fine for opening a vehicle door in a cyclist’s path has been increased to $1,000.
Cyclists in the city say that they think Chicago is doing a great job when it comes to getting more bike lanes out, providing more protection on bike lanes, and putting down bike paint. Despite all the bad things you hear about Chicago these days (high taxes, city financial issues, extreme violence), this is a much needed bright spot! And the Cubs won the World Series!
However, they say that the city should do more in educating both cyclists and motorists on how to share the road. With the rise in cyclists injured in Chicago due to dooring, it is certainly vital to spread more awareness about safety on the road for drivers and cyclists.