IDOT adds bicycle “dooring” collisions to official list of automobile accidents
If you frequent Chicago’s roadways, you know cycling’s popularity has exploded in recent years. More people are biking to and from work, as well as for exercise or leisure. Many cite the great outdoors, while some tout the environmental benefits and others the financial benefit. Whatever the reason, more and more Chicago-area residents are ditching their cars in favor of bikes.
Gov. Pat Quinn announced this week the Ill. Dept. of Transportation (IDOT) will now report “dooring” collisions as traffic accidents requiring police reports. Doorings occur when a driver or passenger of a parked car opens the door and hits a cyclist. These accidents typically result in serious injury or even death and, before now, were excluded from the moving violation categorization because the cars involved are not moving. Bicycle advocates have long argued the government should track doorings to properly educate motorists, pedestrians and cyclists, and help prevent future accidents. Gov. Quinn’s administration cited the prevention of such collisions as the main impetus for the initiative. The dooring data will be incorporated into annual traffic accident summaries compiled by IDOT.
The City of Chicago has attempted to accommodate the upswing in cycling by adding bike lanes and signage, and conducting public education outreach regarding bike safety. The Chicago Dept. of Transportation (CDOT) has even created a Bicycle Program to implement the Bike 2015 Plan and “make cycling an integral part of daily life in Chicago.”
According to CDOT’s first ever bike-count study released in February, 640 N. Milwaukee Ave. (between Erie and Ohio Streets) is the most popular bike “hot spot”: CDOT counted 3,121 bicyclists on a random day in September 2009, accounting for 22 percent of the traffic. Although bikes represent less than 2 percent of traffic throughout the city, the U.S. Census Bureau reported a 1.1 percent increase in the number of bike-to-work trips from 2000 to 2008.
Until people feel safe riding their bikes in the city, most will continue to avoid cycling because of the high risk of collisions and doorings. Hopefully, this policy change will prevent future cycling accidents, making Chicago’s roadways safe for all to enjoy.