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Bike Crashes In Chicago Increased 38 Percent In Past Decade

By Chuck Sudo in News on Sep 4, 2012 5:30PM

Photo credit: Moe Martinez

The Sun-Times ran a story in Monday’s paper showing an increase in bicycle accidents and fatalities in Chicago between 2001 and 2011. How large of an increase? 38 percent, according to data the Sun-Times obtained from the Census Bureau, the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Chicago Metropolitan Planning Agency (CMAP).

The number parallels with the increase in cyclists on the road over that same span. The Census Bureau showed 1.2 percent of Chicago commuters biked to work in 2009. The Sun-Times noted that number may be higher, since the Census didn’t account commuters who use their bikes for recreational use, shopping and other uses. CMAP has a handy map (PDF) showing bike crashes between 2005 and 2010; all we’ll say is cyclists should be extra vigilant along Milwaukee Avenue and the North side.

The article comes on the heels of the Chicago Department of Transportation’s announcement to build another 34 miles in protected and buffered bike lanes by the end of the year and columns by the Sun-Times’ Mark Konkol and the Tribune’s John Kass that resorted lumping cyclists as nothing more than law-breaking hipsters and elitists and that Mayor Rahm Emanuel was “sucking up to bicyclists.” CDOT commissioner Gabe Klein disputed that and said the buffered and protected bike lanes were intended to make all forms of traffic safer. Some bicycle advocates say the bike lane program is happening while certain intersections with a high number of accidents are being ignored.

The Sun-Times spoke with Leah Jones, who suffered a broken ankle and sprained wrists in a 2010 accident at Chicago Avenue and Halsted Street.

“It all squeezes into this intersection where there’s a ton of potholes and a really short yellow,” she says. “Even if you leave on a green, it could be really hard to get through the intersection before it goes red.”