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Are Chicago's bicyclists becoming an endangered species?

Are Chicago bicyclists at a higher risk of being involved in a fatal collision now that summer is in full force? Simply looking at the recent uptick in tragic bike accidents might lend one to believe so.

As of the beginning of June, no one had died in Chicago in a bike accident in 2016. But that lucky streak didn't hold; two have been fatally injured in just over a month later.

Additionally, nearly a dozen other bike accidents that caused injuries to riders have also occurred since last month, with three riders being hurt badly.

Does anecdotal evidence indicate what factors may be to blame for this increase? Or is it just a run of bad luck?

One attorney who focuses his practice on bicycle-related accidents sees a few factors at play. The warm summer weather beckons people to get out and enjoy the sunshine, and biking is a good way to exercise and have fun while doing it.

But there are also a lot of cars on the road in the summer, especially now since gas prices have gone down from the highs of just a few years ago. However, there is also a more insidious problem that does not bode well for the cycling community, and that is a general disrespect for bike riders and their right to occupy the roads alongside motorists.

The attorney notes that "right-hook" collisions, such as the one that killed a 25-year-old cyclist as she road her bike in Avondale on the morning of July 1, happen when drivers don't even see the bike riders on the road.

In that fatal accident, a 28-year-old trucker driving a flatbed mowed down the woman riding a Divvy bike near the intersection of Belmont and Sacramento Streets. Surveillance cameras in the area captured the moment of impact as the driver made a turn at a red light. Although the woman died, the truck driver only was cited for having an improper classification on his license to drive commercial vehicles.

If you are injured in a bicycle collision, you have the right to pursue compensation from an at-fault driver.

Source: Streetsblog Chicago, "What’s Causing Chicago’s Latest Wave of Cycling Deaths and Serious Crashes?," John Greenfield, July 13, 2016

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