Reckless Bicyclists in Pedestrian Accidents

The risk of injury or death for pedestrians that travel in the Chicago metropolitan area has long been recognized as a troubling safety concern. While pedestrian accidents are often associated with roadway collisions in which a motor vehicle strikes the victim, the attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. know all too well that the dangers to pedestrians extend far beyond negligent motorists. A rising trend, especially in recent years, are pedestrian accidents caused by negligent and reckless bicyclists. When a cyclist collides with a pedestrian, the victim can be severely injured, and in some cases even killed.

In Illinois, bicyclists have the legal obligation, or duty, to adhere to traffic control laws, including those that apply specifically to bicyclists, as well as those pertaining to the drivers of other vehicles, when applicable. Unfortunately, bicyclists, like many motorists, do not always abide by the law. Just a few ways in which a cyclist can cause a pedestrian accident include:

  • Speeding / Racing. Cyclists have a duty to exercise due care with regard to the safety of others, which includes traveling at a reasonable speed, given the location, conditions, and presence of other persons, so as to avoid causing a collision. In addition, unless a specific event is approved by state or local authorities, bicycling racing is generally prohibited. Cycling at a high rate of speed can hinder the bicyclist’s ability to stop upon encountering a person or other obstruction, and can increase the extent of harm sustained in the event a pedestrian accident were to occur.
  • Overtaking/Passing. Cyclists are required to give an audible signal before passing or overtaking a pedestrian along a sidewalk or across a roadway in a crosswalk. Often time, pedestrians are completely unaware when a bicyclist is about to pass, and without proper warning, could step into the cyclist’s pathway, and be seriously injured as a result.
  • Distractions. With very limited exceptions, it is unlawful to use a communication device while operating a bicycle, including composing, listening, reading, or sending an electronic message. Much like distracted driving, distracted biking creates manual, visual, and cognitive limitations, which can greatly increase the risk of colliding with a pedestrian.
  • Equipment. Bicycles must be equipped with functioning brakes, reflectors, and front and rear lamps for nighttime use. Faulty or worn brakes have been identified as a leading cause of bicycle versus pedestrian crashes. In addition, operating a bicycle at nighttime without proper lamps and reflectors, is extremely dangerous, not only for the rider, but for others that share the roadway. If a bicyclist cannot see what is in front of them and/or a pedestrian is unaware that a cyclist is approaching, whether from the front or from behind, an accident could easily occur.
  • Carrying Items/ People. Bicyclists must keep one hand on the handlebars at all times, and bundles or packages must not restrict use of both hands to control and operated the bike. Also, carrying passengers is unlawful, unless the bicycle is designed and equipped for additional occupants, or the passenger is a child secured to the rider in a backpack or sling. Riding with items or people in violation of the law can impede the cyclist’s ability to maintain adequate control of the bike, and can augment pedestrian injuries, by increasing the force of impact and/or as a result of being struck by articles/persons being carried.
  • Impairment. Bicycling under the influence of alcohol or drugs, while not punishable as a DUI offense, is certainly a violation in terms of a bicyclist’s duty to ride with reasonable caution, care, and regard for the safety of others. Just as impaired motorists place all road users at great risk, impaired bicyclists can as well, particularly unsuspecting pedestrians.

If you or a loved one were harmed in a pedestrian accident caused by a reckless or negligent bicyclist, the Chicago Personal Injury Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. want to help you recover the financial compensation you deserve. To discuss your personal injury matter, free of charge, with an experienced pedestrian injury lawyer, contact us at 773-516-4100, or send us a message online.

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