Although the city of Chicago was picked by Bicycling in 2016 named Chicago the most bike-friendly city in 2016, the Chicago suburbs have made progress too. Bicycling in the suburbs is both a challenge and a pleasure. More suburbs are creating biking infrastructure including Aurora; Chicago Heights; Evanston; and Bensenville. Richton Park is adding a protected bike lane.
Some of the top benefits of bike-friendly suburbs:
- Health benefits, which makes it easier for people to get daily exercise. The benefits of bicycling about 30 minutes a day include reducing chances of many common diseases including diabetes, dementia, and depression by at least 40%.
- Transportation causes over 25% of all greenhouses gases. Swapping a car for a bike even on short commutes could generate an entire ton less of carbon per person yearly. This is a 5% carbon footprint reduction. Bicycling also makes suburbs more livable with better air quality and less noise.
- Safe biking conditions give low-income Americans access to jobs, schooling, stores and transit so they do not have to buy a car, which costs about $8,500 a year to operate.
- Biking infrastructure makes the suburban streets safer for bikers, drivers, and walkers and reduces the frequency of crashes. Protected bike lanes help drivers by making it safer to get into and out cars.
- Biking trails and projects often increase suburbs’ economic vitality. One example is the Indianapolis’ Cultural Trail, an ambitious biking project, which has revitalized business districts and increased property values.
- Biking safely allows children and younger teens, who often do not have access to cars or people to drive them, get around to appointments or lessons. This, in turn, fosters a sense of pride and independence.
- As a suburb’s streets and sidewalks can be in disrepair, bicycle projects can save money by maintaining and expanding a suburb’s transportation systems.
- Bike infrastructure is inexpensive and creates jobs. A mile of city freeway costs approximately $60 million, while a protected bike lane runs between $170,000 and $250,000 per mile and requires much less maintenance.
Glen Lerner from Glen Lerner Injury Attorneys remarked, “We see that suburbs are incorporating more bike-friendly amenities which allows them to remain competitive with the City of Chicago, which is poaching some corporate employers from the suburbs.”
While big vehicles travel only eight percent of all vehicle miles in Chicago, they are involved in 12% of fatal bike/pedestrian crashes. A truck’s blind spot is the area it that is not visible by use of the truck’s mirrors. Semi-trucks have the biggest blind spots, and semi-truck drivers and others are often at greatest risk of collision.
Usually, a large truck has a blind spot on each side of their vehicle, behind the trailer and to the immediate right side of the cab. The type of truck’s side mirrors impacts the size and location of a blind spot.
The majority of blind spot related accidents occur when a truck is making a right turn at an intersection and other drivers/bikers/pedestrians are unaware of how much room the truck needs. The car/bike/pedestrian is often in the blind spot of the truck.
In the wake of several recent Chicago truck-bike crash fatalities, many called for mandatory side guards for municipal city trucks and other large vehicles driving in Chicago. Side guards stop pedestrians and cyclists who are hit by trucks from slipping under the truck and being crushed by the rear wheels, drastically reducing the fatality rate for turning-truck crashes.
Chicago’s Active Transportation Alliance recommended requiring convex mirrors to help reduce large trucks’ blind spots, as well as other measures to reduce the dangers of trucks such as limiting truck traffic during rush hour. This city ordinance passed, and now any business with a Chicago city contract worth over $2 million must have side guards and convex mirrors on all trucks used
Glen Lerner from Glen Lerner Injury Attorneys noted, “Although not every blind spot collision is the fault of the truck driver, most are. A knowledgeable personal injury attorney will assist someone who has been injured to understand their rights after an accident.”
Cruise control helps a driver keep a constant speed without the need for driver input. The main purpose of cruise control is to allow you to maintain a minimum speed (25 miles per hour or more) without watching the speedometer or keeping your foot on the gas. This may cut back on driver fatigue during long trips.
However, cruise control should not be used when driving in the city of Chicago itself. It is also not recommended for use in heavy traffic, when the roads are wet or slick, and where braking or reduced speeds are needed for bends or curves in the road. On these roads, fast changes in tire traction can result in the vehicle’s wheels slipping, which may cause a loss of control.
Cruise control’s main benefits are that it eliminates the need for the driver to monitor their vehicle’s speed. Cruise control may also have a positive effect on gas consumption by reducing sudden braking.
Cruise control’s drawbacks include that it may slightly increase driver reaction time. It can be dangerous when you cannot drive safely at a constant speed.
Its systems are not connected to the brakes and cannot prevent a vehicle from speeding when traveling down a steep hill.
Tips for safely using cruise control:
- Only use it in good weather conditions.
- Build up your speed gradually. 55 to 70 miles per hour – the generally-allowed speed on highways – is ideal for cruise control.
- Once you have reached your desired speed, turn on your cruise control system – usually buttons located on the steering wheel.
- Next, set the cruise control and take your foot off the gas.
- Carefully watch the road carefully and allow additional reaction time to deactivate the cruise control system before stopping or slowing.
- To slow down, either tap the button on the cruise control system or tap the brake, which stops the cruise control system.
Glen Lerner from Glen Lerner Injury Attorneys noted, “While cruise control helps drivers maintain constant speed and reduce fatigue, they must still be aware of their surroundings in case it needs to be deactivated quickly to avoid an accident.”
Driving when the fog is dense in Chicago can be quite dangerous. Generally, fog at night or early morning. Sometimes, the National Weather Service issues advisories or warnings regarding fog, and you should not be driving on the roads.
People start to panic and sometimes speed up to get their vehicle through the fog more quickly. However, speeding up while driving through fog is the worst thing you can do. The fog gives your eyes the illusion that you are driving very slowly.
Some practical tips to keep you calm and ready to handle foggy weather include:
- Slow it down. It is very important to drive slowly and keep your distance from other vehicles. Watch your speedometer in order to see how fast you are driving.
- Use only low beams. This reduces glare, along with using your wipers and defrosters, High beams make it harder to see traffic.
- Use your car’s fog lights. This will illuminate the road in front of you and make the car more easily seen by other drivers. A car’s rear fog lights will help drivers behind you to see your car.
- Follow the right side pavement line as a guide for navigation. Do not follow the center pavement line: this might make you drift towards oncoming traffic.
- Do not stop. However, if you feel that you must wait until the fog lifts, park far away from the traffic and turn off your lights. If your lights are left on, this could cause other drivers to think that this is the traffic direction, which could cause confusion and even an accident. Best practice is to park in a place away from the traffic like a side street, parking lot or rest area.
Glen Lerner from Glen Lerner Injury Attorneys commented, “Usually, dense fog is a temporary condition. If you can wait it out and drive once it has cleared, it is the safest option.”
Driving while listening to music makes the ride more enjoyable for the driver. However, sometimes the car stereo may not be working or the passengers dislike the driver’s musical selections.
Nevertheless, in Illinois, drivers may not operate a motor vehicle while wearing a “headset receiver,” which is any device (besides hearing aids) worn on the driver’s head enabling the driver to receive electronic communications. Additionally, in Illinois, the only way to legally use a smartphone while driving is a hands-free device.
The only exception for this is a Bluetooth worn in one ear for phone communication, intercom motorcycle headsets, and emergency medical services personnel and construction workers’ headsets.
The rationale for the ban is that headphones and earbuds can be too distracting for drivers and can impact their ability to hear sirens and other outside noise, as well as the possibility of losing focus on the road. Additionally, the headphone or earbud cables in a driver’s lap may become tangled. This could be a danger while turning the wheel.
Research has shown that drivers who listen to music while using earphones in both ears are more distracted than a driver who hears music through a car stereo. Indeed, some studies have shown that listening to music through headphones or earbuds while driving can be as disruptive to the driver as texting during driving.
If a driver is found wearing headphones while driving in Chicago, they can face a maximum fine of $500 fine, but no jail time. They would also be liable for any damages they might cause if there were an accident.