Chicago Mayor Proposes Increased Fines for Reckless Motorists and Bicyclists

May 14, 2013

4633552881_1dee904aac.jpgBicycle crash lawyers at Pintas & Mullins announce Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's new proposals that would significantly increase fines for careless bicyclists and motorists alike. Among other things, the new ordinances would raise fines for cyclists from the standard $25 for all offenses to $50 to $200 depending on the violation.

The proposal would also double the fine imposed on drivers who open their doors without first checking for cyclists to a whopping $1,000. The fine for leaving a car door open while in traffic would also double to $300. This is all in effort to curb the nearly 1,700 bicycle crashes that took place in the city in 2012 (250 of those involved motorists opening doors in the path of cyclists).

City Hall is also set to launch an awareness campaign in the next few weeks aimed at taxi passengers, reminding them to look for cyclists before they open their doors. Stickers will be placed on the windows of cab passenger doors in all 7,000 of Chicago's taxis.

The stickers are designed by MINIMAL design studios, an employee of which was recently killed while biking to work. Neil Townshend was struck by a semi-trailer on the Near North Side after he had to swerve to avoid an open car door.

The Active Transportation Alliance is just one organization applauding the mayor for his efforts, particularly the even-handed approach to making the city streets safer for everyone. The city currently issues very few tickets to cyclists who text while riding or blow through red lights. Along with increased enforcement for violations, the mayor is also launching a prolific network of protected bike lanes throughout Chicago, akin to those found in Amsterdam.

The campaigns director for the Active Transportation Alliance stated that a lot of Chicagoans do want to get out and bike, but are deterred by the amount of catastrophic crashes reported. Basically, they are just too afraid to bike regularly, whether it be to work or just for recreation. Mayor Emmanuel is trying to change that, and make the city more efficient in the process.

This has created notable tensions among motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists, however. As the number of regular cyclists increases it also becomes increasingly important for everyone to learn how to share the road. Mayor Emanuel believes that, by increasing fines for basic traffic violations, everyone on the road will learn to behave more responsibly, safely, and encouragingly.

Mayor Emanuel campaigned on the promise to make Chicago one of the nation's most bike-friendly cities. Less than one month after taking office, he installed the city's first protected bike lane along Dearborn Street downtown, running 12 blocks between Kinzie and Polk streets. The two-way lanes include traffic signals specifically for riders to obey and metal signs above sidewalks telling pedestrians to look both ways before stepping off the curb.

Between 2006 and 2010 there were an astounding 986 reported crashes on this section of Dearborn. There is now 38 bike traffic signals and 18 new left-turning arrows for motorists on the stretch, so behavior expectations are clear.

Over the next four years the mayor plans to install at least 100 miles of similar protected bike lanes throughout the city. Chicago currently has about 200 miles of on-street bike paths, which include nearly 20 miles of buffered lanes, 135 miles of standard lanes, and 40 miles of marked shared lanes. The next areas expected to receive protected lanes are Clybourn and Milwaukee, which will take place the summer of 2013. For the more than 20,000 Chicagoans biking to work every day downtown, these lanes will be more than welcomed.

Bike accident lawyers at Pintas & Mullins commend the efforts of Mayor Emanuel in making the city streets safer and more efficient for everyone who uses them. Accidents involving bicycles can be catastrophic, and injuries devastating to victims. If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a cycling accident, you have important legal rights, and may be entitled to significant compensation through a lawsuit against the negligent party.