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Safety at a Metra Station

metra

Millions of trips every year take people from the suburbs into the city of Chicago and back home again. Metra trains pull into many town squares throughout the suburbs. The Union Pacific Northwest line runs through downtown Arlington Heights with an additional stop at Arlington Park. Families heading to Blues Fest, the theater, and sporting events every day. Metra serves more than 100 communities with 241 stations on 11 lines running from Chicago’s downtown. And although safety is Metra’s #1 concern, unfortunately, accidents happen.

Fatalities and Metra Related Deaths

The above Metra related deaths are only five of the many more that occurred in the last year. In November 2017, Metra acknowledged that many of the deaths that occur on their tracks are related to suicide. According to Chicago Magazine’s Metra Is Trying Something New to Curb Its Suicide Problem, “few rail services have felt the urgency to address the issue as intensely as Metra, which tallied 23 confirmed or suspected suicides along its routes from January to late October” of 2017.

According to Ian Savage, a professor at Northwestern University professor, the Federal Railroad Administration did not perform a baseline gauge of railroad transit deaths until 2011. He states that  “It’s like a sports game, and we’re walking in at the first quarter.”

Where Do These Accidents Occur?

Unfortunately, no Metra line is immune from these accidents. Below are several examples of such unfortunate deaths:

  • On Tuesday, February 6, 2018, Tracey Currie, a 29 year-old man, was struck by a Metra Union Pacific-North Line train at the North Chicago Station while walking towards a waiting car. Currie later died.
  • On Monday, March 5, 2018, a 15-year-old from Western Springs was killed when he was struck by a cargo train on the BNSF tracks just West of the Central Avenue pedestrian crossing. The police’s preliminary investigation suggested that the 15-year-old had ran into the path of the train that was traveling East.
  • On Wednesday, March 7, 2018, an express train struck and killed a pedestrian near the Riverside station heading towards Downers Grove. According to the initial investigation and a statement made by Riverside police Chief Tom Weitzel, it is suspected that “a male pedestrian stepped in front of the train.”
  • On Tuesday, March 27, 2018, a man was struck by a southbound Metra train when he stepped onto the tracks. The engineer operating the train was unable to stop the 70 mile-per-hour train in time.

If you or someone you know has been hurt or died after an accident involving a Metra train, contact the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. today for a free consultation.

Preventing Suicides on Metra Lines

In September 2017, Metra made a statement at the platforms of its 11 lines. They added posters stating “You Are Not Alone” along with a hotline number. Metra made their statement in accordance with Breaking the Silence. This program includes a daylong symposium bringing together mental health experts, rail officials, and safety advocates.

According to Lanny Wilson, chair of the DuPage Railroad Safety Council, the fact that Metra is having this conversation is admirable.  “Just a few years ago, people said, ‘There’s nothing we can do about suicides in rail deaths.’ Now it’s: ‘What are we going to do about suicides?’”

While suicides do account for a portion of the Metra related deaths that occur yearly, many also die due to a lack of safety.

How to Be Safe While Waiting for the Train

METRA

According to Metra’s website, safety is their number one priority. In support of this mission, Metra uses Operation Lifesaver and crossing enforcement blitzes. These programs allow Metra’s Safety Department to work daily to educate the public about the importance of safety. Specifically, Operation Lifesaver directs nearly 1,000 programs for schools, bus drivers, truck drivers, emergency personnel, and other organizations.

To further this mission of providing safe commutes for passengers, Metra is planning to add an additional safety system to the BNSF line in Summer 2018. Positive Train Control, or PTC, aims to stop a train when the train engineer blows a signal or if the train goes above the speed limit. Panels are still being heard regarding the implementation of the new program.

But in the meantime, according to Operation Lifesaver, here are five safety tips to follow when traveling by train:

  1. Always be alert. Trains are fast moving and come out of nowhere very quietly. Be aware of your surroundings, obey warning signs, and use caution and care when utilizing headphones or cellphones.
  2. Never sit on the edge of the train platform. 
  3. Mind the gap on the platform’s edge. Pay attention to painted or raised markings at the platform edge, and stay at least three feet from the train while it is coming in or out of the station. Be mindful of the gap between the train and the platform.
  4. Brace yourself! When on the train, be sure to hold onto a pole or seat. Be sure to mind the directions of the conductor. 
  5. Follow the rules. Be sure to abide by the instructional signs and markings that let you know where to go.
  6. Never, ever cross the tracks! Not only is this illegal, it is also incredibly dangerous.

Rough Ride: The Risks of Damaged Roads in Illinois

Rough Ride: The Risks of Damaged Roads in IllinoisDamaged Roads in Illinois Put You at Risk

 

Driving on damaged roads can be dangerous. Potholes, cracks, and broken asphalt can increase the risk of accidents. To stay safe while driving on damaged roads, keep the following safety tips in mind.

 

Pay Attention to Road Signs

 

Damaged roads in Illinois may have signage displayed to warn motorists of poor road conditions. Steel plates, cut asphalt, and other roadwork hazards can cause cars to swerve thus causing collisions. Heed all road signs to ensure you safely adjust your speed when appropriate.

 

Watch the Road Surface

 

Ruts, groves, cracks, and potholes make the road surface uneven, increasing the risk of accidents. Watch the road surface as best you can to look for these common road hazards. Sometimes it’s best to take it slow when driving on damaged roads to stay in control and avoid accidents. And exercise extreme caution when riding a motorcycle or bike, as uneven surfaces can cause small tires to slip and lose traction.

 

Be Aware of Wear

 

Crumbling roads, faded lines, and worn or damaged road signs can make it more difficult to follow the rules of the road and avoid hazards. While the State of Illinois should be properly maintaining these, limited resources mean some roads are still in need of repair. When in doubt about lane lines or posted speed limits, follow common sense and the flow of traffic, and report the wear promptly.

 

Stay Alert and Ready to Act

 

When driving on damaged roads, reduce your speed and keep your eyes on the road and road signs.

If you were in an accident while driving on damaged roads in Illinois, you might be able to submit a claim to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). IDOT investigates and pays claims for property damage to vehicles driving on roads under State jurisdiction. Claims are paid based on a standard of negligence. Thus, it’s essential to work closely with an Illinois car accident attorney who can help you prove the State failed to take reasonable safety precautions.

 

Damaged roads are a major cause of auto accidents in Illinois. Keep these tips in mind when traveling on Illinois roads to make sure you are able to drive safely and defensively no matter the conditions.

 

If you’ve been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer can help. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 357-0403 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

 

 

Back to School – Stay Safe

back to school

Summer is ending, and we are officially in the thick of the back to school season. This means there will be more street congestion, more children, teenagers, and parents on the streets, and more time added onto commutes. While schools across the area vary specific start dates, it is important to be consistently diligent through the August and September months.

According to the National Safety Council, otherwise known as the NSC, there are four specific areas of safety to practice additional care: general safety for students, driving safety, pedestrian safety, and clothing and school supplies safety. Follow these tips to ensure your children will have a successful year at school!

General Back to School Safety Tips

Nothing is better than the basics. The Red Cross advises that parents follow two pieces of age old advice.

  • Sending your children off to school is frightening for any parent but especially for parents who are sending their children to school for the first time. If this is the case, make sure you child knows:
    • the home phone number if your family has a landline
    • their parents cell phone numbers
    • their home address
    • how to contact their parents at work or at their day time location
    • how to contact their emergency contact or other trusted adult
  • Stress to your children the importance of not talking to strangers or getting into a car with someone they do not know. It is important for children to know what to do in the event that a stranger does approach them. If this were to happen, children should run away, and immediately tell a teacher or another trusted adult.

Drive Safely Going Back to School

There are two drivers to consider when focusing on back to school driving: 1) parent drivers, and 2) new, teenage drivers. According to the NSC, car crashes involving teens increase during September and usually occur in the hours before school or after school. When sharing the road with new, inexperienced drivers who are driving to school, fellow drivers and parents should:

  • Always obey speed limits, stop signs, posted school signs, and other posted roadway signs and rules of the road
  • Slow down when entering a school zone (note: the required speed limit for most school zones is 20 miles per hour).
  • Brake for school busses that are picked up or dropping off students
  • Stop for crosswalks that students are crossing the street with or without a crossing guard
  • Look for students near schools, at bus stops, on sidewalks, on the street, or in school parking lots. Be careful
  • Do not pass another vehicle in a school zone.
  • Do not change lanes or make a U-turn in a school zone.
  • Put the phone down. Do not be a distracted driver.

If you or someone you know has been injured while driving their children to school, contact the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. for a free consultation

Pedestrian Safety

To keep children who walk to school safe, parents should:

  • Advise their children to take the same route to and from school every day. Parents should be aware of what route to school their child or children are taking.
  • Stress to their children the importance of going home right after school and not going somewhere else without parental permission.
  • Tell their children to use public sidewalks and streets
  • Practice proper street and traffic safety when walking with children so they will emulate that behavior
  • Create a “walking group” that consists of other children who are walking to the same school.

To keep children who bike to school safe, parents should:

  • Contact the school and make sure students are allowed to ride their bikes to school.
  • Require their children to wear a bicycle helmet. According to the NSC, wearing a bicycle helmet reduces the possibility of obtaining a head injury by 85 percent.
  • Inform their children to stay on the right-hand side of the road. Children should always ride with the flow of the traffic.
  • Find a safe route to and from school, and practice riding it with the children.
  • Find a riding partner for their children. There is safety in numbers!

If you have been injured by a car while riding your bike with your family to school, call the experienced lawyers at the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. who have dealt with many bicycle accident cases.

Clothing and School Supplies Safety

Clothing and school supplies safety tips seem like weird thing to be reading. But wearing or purchasing the wrong item can increase a child’s potential of being harmed at school.

For example:

  • Backpacks
    • Students should purchase backpacks with wide straps and padded backs and shoulder straps not exceeding 10 to 15 percent of the child’s body. Having too heavy of backpack can lead to the child harming his or her back or experiencing another kind of injury.
    • When packing a backpack, the heaviest items should be placed in first because the closer the heavier items are to a student’s back, the less likely the student will experience strain.
    • All compartments of the backpack should be used to ensure even weight distribution.
  • Clothing
    • Drawstrings should be removed from jackets and sweatshirts. Drawstrings can potentially cause strangulation.
  • Art supplies
    • Be sure to purchase child safe, non-toxic art supplies.
    • If the teacher has provided students with a shopping list, abide by the list unless you have a genuine concern regarding one of the items.
    • The NSC states that parents should be sure to purchase art supplies that has “CONFORMS TO ASTM D-4236” on their packaging.

As kids and parents alike enjoy going back to school, remember to stay safe with these tips.

Summer 2017 Road Construction Projects

As summer begins, remember to add extra time to your trips to ensure your safety due to road construction. Road construction can lead to car accidents, truck accidents, and bike accidents. Additionally, with many people enjoying the weather, be careful of distracted drivers or individuals who may be driving under the influence. To keep the workers and yourself safe, stay off your phone and drive safely this summer.

Suburban Construction

The Illinois Department of Transportation provides a map of the largest construction projects each year. For a clickable map, check out the IDOT website.

However, a few examples of major suburban roadwork includes:

  • In Des Plaines, finishing touches continue at the I-90 and IL-83 (Elmhurst Rd.) interchange. This affects Oakton St., Elmhurst St., and Busse Rd.
  • In Schaumburg, Higgins Rd. (IL-72) will undergo roadwork which may lead to long delays. The construction will occur west of I-294, just south of Woodfield.
  • Near O’Hare, major roadwork will occur on Irving Park Rd. in Bensenville until September. Since this is a major thoroughfare for trucks, please be very careful. If you have been injured in a truck accident near O’Hare, please contact the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. today.

Chicago Construction

In the city of Chicago, several major roads are undergoing major road construction. According to WGN,

  • Lakeshore Drive will undergo structural improvements and repairs at the LaSalle Drive Viaduct beginning mid-summer. Expect some lane closures on Lake Shore Drive. However, the Chicago Department of Transportation will try to work around peak rush hours. Nonetheless, the work may take eight months to complete.
  • Grand Avenue reconstruction is underway between Pulaski and Chicago.  One lane will be maintained in each direction throughout the project with one exception. Between late June to July, Grand Avenue will be fully closed at Homan for five weeks under the railroad viaduct.Work will continue throughout 2017.
  • For other Chicago roadwork information, check out the list from WGN.

Real-Time Traffic Reports

As you head out, make sure to check the local traffic reports, which include construction delays. We recommend all of the local news networks, especially NBC Chicago.

 

Chicago Holiday Safe Driving Tips

Holiday Safe DrivingWe hear it every winter – this one is going to be bad. From the Farmer’s Almanac to local weatherpeople, Chicago prepares for the worst! However, even with bad weather, people like to travel and need holiday safe driving tips. People cross state lines to see their family and friends. To ensure that everyone has a safe and fun holiday, remember to drive safely and pay attention to weather conditions. [Read more…]

O’Hare American Airlines Fire

Last month, eighteen passengers on aboard an American Airlines airplane had to escape after it caught on fire. The passengers are now suing the manufacturers and the carrier in Cook County. The lawsuit alleges that the manufacturer sold a faulty engine and used the engine to assemble an unsafe aircraft. Around twenty people went to the hospital due to the American Airlines fire.

What Happened at O’Hare?

American Airlines Fire
161 passengers and other crew members evacuated the plane after it caught on fire. Hospitals admitted 20 passengers after the incident. The airplane caught on fire while on the tarmac. Apparently, the passengers only sustained minor injuries, but the injuries could have been much worse. Right before the flight was about to takeoff, a steel-alloy disk fractured into four pieces. A section pierced the fuel tank and ignited a fire.

The National Transportation Safety Board report issued after the American Airlines fire revealed that the engine was consistent with fatigue cracking. According to the report, the takeoff was aborted because there was uncontained engine failure and this led to fuel pooling under the right wing, which went up into flames. [Read more…]

Car Insurance Rates Increase With Accidents

Got Car Insurance?

Creative Commons Photo Credit: Source


Everyone has car insurance. Or at least the law requires everyone to have car insurance. But no one wants to use their car insurance! After a car accident, the driver files a claim with the insurance company if he or she wants to be reimbursed for the damages. Yet, when the damage is minor, a lot of drivers try to avoid filing minor claims. They fear a claim will trigger a higher premium for their car insurance.

Recently, analysts tied the rise in car insurance rates to an increase in accident rates. They point to distracted driving and drowsy driving as the cause. These conditions have led not only to higher insurance premiums, but also many fatalities. Drivers absolutely need to pay closer attention to the road when behind the wheel. [Read more…]

Pokemon Go: A New Distraction

25914117692_5d42261ac7_zRecently, Pokemon Go became one of the most popular apps of all time as users downloaded it over 100 million times. Needless to say, the game has become popular among adolescents who finally have a video game they can play outside, to the older generation who grew up playing and watching Pokemon. Now, everyone who has a smart phone can become a Pokemon trainer. Even with its popularity, there has been a backlash by concerned parents, drivers, and authorities. Recently, many people wonder how to play the game safely.

How Pokemon Go Causes Injuries

  • Not paying attention to their surroundings and run into something;
  • Walking around late at night and lacking awareness of the neighborhood
  • Not traveling in large groups when playing the game late at night;
  • Walking into the street chasing a rare Pokemon.

Pokemon Go and Crime

pokemon-1555036_960_720In order to play Pokemon Go, players have to get out of their house and walk around. Unfortunately, a lot of people keep their eyes glued to their phone instead of paying attention to their surroundings. Many people have heard about the stabbings and robberies that happened to people who were playing the game. Pokemon Go players become an easy target because they are not paying attention. They hold their phones in their hand (many thieves steal phones) and Pokemon Go players stay out late at night.

On one occasion, two young players were out playing Pokemon Go at 2am. Seven people confronted the players and demanded their wallets. One girl refused and they stabbed in the arm. Another incident occurred when robbers used lure modules to lure people into a trap. Lure modules can be seen by all players, and they bring Pokemon to the place that the lure module is set up. When the players arrived to the lure module, criminals rob them. Law enforcement agencies have warned people that the game could leave players vulnerable to criminals.

Distracted By Pokemon Go

Not only can being unaware of one’s surroundings lead to a robbery, but it can also cause someone to trip and fall and become injured. The game warns players to always pay attention to their surroundings when the game first starts up. However, many ignore those warning. One expert claims that injuries occur to distracted players while they walk. Two people who ignored the warning actually fell off of a bluff in California. The men were in their twenties, and they were trying to catch Pokemon when they fell off the side of the 75 foot bluff. Firefighters responded to the scene and took the injured players to the hospital where they suffered moderate injuries. According to the firefighters, the men crossed over a fenced area just to get to the Pokemon. Unfortunately, many other stories exist where players trespassed and injuries ensued.

Pokemon Go and Driving

english_pokemon_logo-svgUnfortunately, people are in fact playing this game while driving. Add this to the number of distractions for drivers, which could lead to more car accidents, especially since the game is growing in popularity and, according to fans, is very addicting. The AAA is very worried about the game since it sucks the player into the game and is more distracting than a text message. Although the game disables some features when the player is traveling over twenty miles per hour, accidents have still occurred because people have been playing the game while driving.

One accident occurred when a van struck a parked city police cruiser because he was playing Pokemon Go. Fortunately, the officers were standing on the sidewalk when the crash occurred, so none were injured. The body camera of an officer captured the  collision and the driver I heard in the video complaining about how he should not have been playing the game.

How to play Pokemon Go Safely

Pokemon Go is a great game. It brings people together, and people of all ages can play the game. Parents can finally rejoice because a video game has been invented that requires kids to go outdoors and play instead of sitting inside on a nice day. With that being said, there are a few things that every player should keep in mind:

  • Always be aware of your surroundings. It says that in the game, but make sure you do not trip over anything.
  • Do not trespass on someone’s lawn. Even if it is a very rare Pokemon.
  • Always travel with a group of people if you are going to go out catching Pokemon. A robbery is less likely to happen if you travel with a big group of people.
  • Do not run into the middle of the street chasing a Pokemon.
  • Finally, do not play the game while you are driving.

Follow these guidelines for a more enjoyable experience without injury. Gotta catch ’em all!

Driverless Cars: Are They Safe?

Driverless Car at Geneva Auto Show

For many years, fictional television shows, movies, and books displayed the wonders of driverless cars. Today, driverless cars may become more common on the road. It seems that driverless cars line the roadways the future as more and more people are jumping on the bandwagon due to inventors at Google and Tesla, to name a few. The autopilot feature manages its own speed in traffic, change lanes, and even park on its own. Although they grab the attention of the media, drivers do not yet sit behind the steering wheels. But a recent accident involving a man killed after crashing into an 18-wheeler tractor trailer with the autopilot on his driverless car engaged. How safe is this feature and driverless cars?

What is autopilot?

Autopilot is an enhanced version of cruise control. The features uses cameras, radar, ultrasonic sound, and other software to navigate the roadway. The car automatically responds to traffic ahead by changing lanes or adjusting speed using this technology. The car should avoid hazards and reduce the amount of work that the driver has to do. Although a driver cannot nap behind the wheel, the enhancements provides a driver with one step past the cruise control technology – all to hope to reduce the number of car accidents.

NHTSA rating for driverless cars

Google_driverless_car_at_intersection.gkThe NHTSA has five levels to serve as guidelines for autonomous driving (numbered 0 to 4).

  • Level 0 – no degree of automation. The driver has complete control over the car and is entirely responsible for controlling every aspect of the car.
  • Level 1 – some basic technological help, such as electronic stability control or pre-charged brakes. Almost every car on the road today meets this level.
  • Level 2 – combined function automation. It specifies the use of several functions at once, such as lane centering and cruise control.
  • Level 3 – allows the car to take over completely in certain situations like highway driving. But the car expects the driver to take control.
  • Level 4 – requires no assistance from the driver to get from point A to point B in no time.

What happened in Florida?

Florida was the first known fatal accident where the autopilot feature was engaged. The driver of the driverless car was apparently watching a Harry Potter movie while behind the wheel. He was apparently driving so fast that the truck he crashed into did not even see him. This crash was a significant setback and public relations nightmare for the creators of the driverless car. It appears that the car’s sensors system against a bright spring sky failed to distinguish between the sky and a white eighteen wheeler. The creatos warned the driver of the autopilot car  to always pay attention while operating the driverless car and keep his hands on the wheel, but he failed to follow these directions.

Some concerns with driverless cars

Some of the main concerns with driverless cars is that they are in the level three territory, which still requires the driver to remain in control of the vehicle and alert at all times, but this lulls people into thinking that the car is a level 4. Many youtube videos have emerged where drivers of these driverless cars are reading the newspaper, playing games, and doing other activities while using the autopilot feature. If the driver was using a level 4 car, this would be completely fine, but since the driverless cars are only level 3, these activities are very dangerous. Some have even called for companies to rename the autopilot function since it sounds too much like the driver can sit back and relax while the autopilot takes over.

So, is a driverless car safer?

Driverless Cars GoogleWhen one looks at the big picture, driver error is the leading cause of car-accident related injuries. In fact, driver error is responsible for ninety four percent of the car accidents in the United States. Some people believe that driverless cars will save thousands of lives each year. Seeing as how the autopilot system has caused only one death in 130 million miles of road, and Americans average one death per 94 million miles driven, the driverless system may be safer. Even though these cars are labeled “driverless”, drivers still need to remain alert and attentive while behind the wheel. Since these cars are only level three, they are not completely automatic.

Is Illinois Bicycle Friendly?

bicycle safetyOver the past decade, sparked by changes in technology, increases in the cost of fuel, and pushes towards renewable energy, bicycling has become more and more popular, but Illinois still doesn’t seem very bicycle friendly, which puts riders at a bicycle safety risk. It is not uncommon to see bicyclers riding in all types of weather during the spring, summer, fall, and sometimes even winter months. Some towns have designated bike trails and paths alongside the roadway. Yet, most cyclists would be surprised if they found out that, according to an 18- year-old Illinois Supreme Court precedent, they are not necessarily intended users of public ways, including popular riding paths and trails.

Bicyclists are permitted users of roadways, but not intended users

In Boub v. Township of Wayne, which took place in 1998, the Illinois Supreme Court held that a cyclist is only a permitted user of a roadway, not an intended user. The court pointed to precedents in the past that indicated that while while intended users are also permitted users, permitted users are not necessarily intended users. The court found that, if no signs or other markings specifically indicate that the roadway is intended for bicycle use, then cyclists are not intended users of the roadway. One of the justices dissented, claiming that the majority’s holding was, as a principal of public policy, both irrational and dangerous. The majority holding in the Boub case discourages municipalities from making roads safer for bicyclists.

Unfortunately, Illinois has not kept up with the growth of bicycling since 1998.

Is Chicago Becoming More Bike Friendly?

Many cities across the state have been taking steps to become more bicycle friendly. Chicago, for instance, is one city that has seen a surge in the number of cyclists, but has taken steps to become more bicycle friendly. Currently, Chicago has more than two hundred miles of on-street protected, buffered, and shared bike lanes, and miles of off-street paths.  Chicago has plans to build up to 645 miles in bike lanes by 2020. These bike lanes will help citizens of Chicago feel safe and comfortable while bicycling on the streets.

Three principles guiding Chicago’s plan to become more bicycle friendly

  • Provide a bicycle accommodation within ½ mile of every Chicago resident
  • Provide a greater number of bikeways where more people live
  • Increase the amount of infrastructure where ridership is high, while establishing a strong backbone where ridership is currently lower, but has the potential to grow.

The goal is to make Chicago one of the best places for cycling in the US, and they are well on their way.

Time for a change?

bicycle safety helmetChicago is not the only city that has become more bicycle friendly. Other urban cities in Illinois have also been recognized as being bike friendly. Some of these cities include: Urbana, Naperville, Evanston, Elmhurst, and Warrenville. While Chicago and other cities have made clear markings and trails that show that bicyclists are intended users, the law is still the same in these cities. If a city has signs, markings, bike paths, special traffic lights for bicyclists, or anything that specifically states that the intention is to improve access for bicyclists, then a bicyclist is an intended user of the roadway, and municipalities are more likely to be liable if a bicycler is injured by a defect in the roadway. If there are no signs, markings, or anything that specifically states that a bicycler is the intended user of the roadway, then a municipality is immune from liability since the bicycler is not an intended user. The problem is that it is impossible to mark every area as an area designated for bicyclers, and if a bicycler crashes in one of these unmarked areas, the municipality is not responsible. There is no uniformity.

What can be done?

If a person driving a car or motorcycle crashes because of a defect in the road, they will be treated differently than a cyclist who crashes because of a defect. This approach does not make a lot of sense, since a lot of municipalities focus on bicycle safety, putting good public policy at odds with the law. A relatively simple solution exists that would level the playing field and solve this problem: the Illinois legislature should pass legislation that declares bicyclers are both intended and permitted users of roadways.

Different advocacy groups for bicyclers in Illinois have tried to propose legislation in the past,but they have not been successful. The legislature could clarify the duty owed to bicyclers and this would encourage more people to use bicycles. And in the end, this could reduce the number of bicycle accidents in Illinois.

About the Firm


Ronald F. Wittmeyer, Jr. practices plaintiffs' personal injury law at his office in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

About Ron

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