The surge in popularity and the success of ride sharing introduced bike sharing, which requires drivers in Illinois to be mindful of cyclists and yield for them as they do with pedestrians. Block Club Chicago reported on the nation’s first highly publicized bike-share fatality, in which a 25-year-old female cyclist riding one of the popular Divvy bikes was fatally struck by a flatbed truck turning at an intersection in Avondale. The Chicago-based company facilitating the bike-sharing app was not liable; the victim’s family, however, filed a lawsuit against the truck driver and his employer seeking $13 million in damages for her death.
At about 9:00 a.m. on July 1, 2016, the flatbed truck driver of a local hardwood flooring supply company was making a right turn at the intersection of Sacramento and Belmont Avenues. Purportedly, he did not give the bicyclist the right of way and struck her while making the turn. The family’s lawyers claimed that she pounded on the side of the eight-ton truck to warn the driver that she was there, but nevertheless, he crashed into her. The victim was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead. A Cook County jury awarded the family $5.25 million in damages after less than two hours of deliberations.
While there might be a noticeable increase in dedicated bike paths and lanes, truck and automobile drivers must be on the lookout for bicyclists and make them the priority when turning or maneuvering. Cyclists may also increase their awareness and take safety precautions to help reduce collisions with vehicles. The National Association of City Transportation Officials provides guidelines on how safety may be increased at intersections, which accounted for 43% of urban bicycle fatalities in its most recent report.