Bike Path Accidents
The Chicago Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. represent victims who sustained injury as a result of an accident involving a bicycle collision. The phrase ‘bike collision,’ is commonly associated with roadway incidents, such as traffic-related crashes or dooring accidents. Likewise, bike crashes are often thought of solely in terms of the consequences suffered by a bicyclist. However, the reality is that biking accidents can occur in non-roadway settings, and can also cause injury to persons other than cyclists. Bike-path accidents serve as a perfect example of the manner in which a bike collision can involve an uncharacteristic victim, or location, and sometimes even both.
Bike pathway accidents can occur in a variety of ways, however, one of the most common is where a cyclist collides with a pedestrian. Similar to bicyclists, pedestrians too, use bike paths for a multitude of reasons. Some pedestrians use bike paths for exercise-related purposes, such as runners, joggers, or walkers. Others may use paths for more casual activities that allow them to escape the commotion of city-life. Such pedestrians include persons walking dogs; mothers or caregivers that are walking small children; as well as bird-watchers, environmentalists, and botany-enthusiasts. Consequently, the presence and diversity amongst pedestrians is particularly notable along scenic paths.
As Chicago and its surrounding suburbs continue to implement bike infrastructure, more and more pedestrians are using bike paths as a means of traveling from one area to another. For example, due to the purposeful attempt to incorporate connecting points to public transit in bike planning efforts, many pedestrians use bike paths to reach bus or train stations, as well as bike-sharing facilities. Also, children commonly use the path to walk home from school or meet with friends.
Returning to the issue of pedestrian-versus-bicyclist bike-path accidents—what do all of these pedestrians share in common? Well, quite simply, a bike path, as its name reflects, is a space that pedestrians must share with bicyclists. While Chicago has been moving more towards the phrase ‘multi-use-path,’ for trails that allow all users, the fact remains, that no matter the trail, path, or route, it is pedestrians that are generally at higher risk for injury as a result of a collision with a bicyclist.
Speeding while biking; improper maneuvering; bike malfunction; or failure to observe people, items, or other pathway obstructions, can all cause or contribute to a collision between a cyclist and pedestrian. More recently, there has been an increased presence of distracted-biking incidents, involving bicyclists talking on cell phones, and even texting while biking. While certainly pedestrians can contribute to their own injuries, this type of accident is generally limited to a small handful of scenarios, such as a wandering toddler, runaway dog, or an intoxicated or impaired pedestrian.
Accordingly, the more appropriate consideration, for many bike accidents, may be the inverse to the above-stated reference to pathway sharing. That is, it is the cyclist that should perhaps be held to a higher standard in taking reasonable and necessary precautionary measures to prevent injury or harm to pedestrians. In other words, it is the bicyclist that must share with pedestrians, as opposed to the reverse.
Further complicating the problem, bike paths are shared spaces, which accommodate more than just pedestrians and bicyclists. In addition to rollerbladers, roller-skaters, and users of non-motorized vehicles such as skateboards or scooters, there has also been the recent emergence of various non-motorized hybrid-type vehicles. Each pathway use comes along with its own accompanying dangers, but there is a common denominating factor amongst each---all users must share the same pathway. For more information on this topic, and proposed resolutions, see our blog, ‘Can Something be Done to Reduce the Risks for Accident and Injury along Chicago’s Lakefront Trail?’