Friday, September 21, 2007


1. On my ride home today, at the intersection of Grand Ave. and Lake Shore Drive, right in front of me a taxi cab turning right hit a bicyclist in the crosswalk (the lakefront bike path uses the sidewalk along lower Lake Shore for that stretch, for those unfamiliar). I know it's a tricky intersection with poor visibility, and cyclists come out pretty quickly, but there's no excuse for that. You always have to check the crosswalk. And the cyclist probably should have been more careful, too. You really shouldn't be going very fast when you're on the sidewalk there, and any time you're biking and to the right of right-turning traffic extra caution is warranted.

2. When all the lights are off in the apartment and light comes in through the blinds in the living room the changing patterns it creates on the ceiling are really neat. This is probably true for anyone with those vertical-strip blinds and windows on more than one wall of a room. Check it out sometime.


Anonymous said...

When you consider that taxi drivers drive 12 hour shifts it's actually much more excusable that he made a mistake.

That he didn't see a biker coming from behind him who failed to stop for the intersection before proceeding is unlucky, but the biker took a gamble and lost.

You haven't described this scenario in a lot of detail, but it's also entirely possible that the biker wasn't really very visible to the taxi driver.

Between blind spots, things being small in rear view mirrors and the number of slow-moving things on the sidewalk, and the fact that he does need to turn in a reasonable amount of time to avoid being read-ended, I have a hard time passing judgment against the driver in this case.

Also, what the bicyclist did is illegal in many states and, while I don't think it's illegal in Illinois to ride through a crosswalk (instead of dismounting), it does violate every bike-safety lesson I've ever had. Ever.

Always look both ways before you cross the street.

Anonymous said...

Also worth checking out if you're ever in a biking accident -

Al Dimond said...

Working 12-hour shifts is not an excuse to make a driving mistake. If you consistently drive in a condition of fatigue that leaves you unable to drive safely, why is that the problem of other people on the road? Road rules don't exist to be considerate to people that choose difficult driving conditions, they exist to keep roads safe. If drivers make considerably more mistakes after being on the road 12 hours then I think there's a fair case for limiting the number of hours they can drive in a day. This would almost certainly result in an increase in taxi fares and a decrease in revenue for any each individual taxi driver, and if the government entity enforcing the regulation doesn't think that's fair then it can subsidize some taxi rides.

That's just in general for taxi drivers, not specific to this incident. The turn onto EB Grand from the NB Inner Drive is a tricky one; there's a slight uphill and bridge supports blocking visibility onto the sidewalk. It is really hard to see people in the crosswalk, not to mention quick-moving cyclists. Given the complexity of the intersection, the taxi should not have been going as fast as he was into the turn. And the cyclist shouldn't have been going as fast as he was either. I think blame falls equally on the two of them, and also on the city for having such an unsafe section on one of its most important bikeways. As far as cyclists riding through the crosswalk... that's just the way it works when you're around the lakefront trail. One time I dismounted at Illinois Street and got yelled at and nearly hit from behind.

For obvious reasons I take special caution to avoid being to the right of right-turning traffic (it seems obvious, but many cyclists create problems by going straight through right-turn lanes). That particular location is hard to avoid, though. In general, I check traffic pretty carefully, whereas lots of cyclists here throw caution to the wind. Many people that bike-commute think that more bike traffic and less car traffic would be a good thing. In some ways this is true, but if you replaced every motorist on the streets during rush hour with a cyclist riding the way many do around here you'd have bedlam. Every major intersection in Chicago would have a pile of mangled bikes in the middle, surrounded by a pack of angry cyclists fighting over which red light runner had the right of way. At least car traffic is fairly predictable.

Meanwhile, it's totally ridiculous for the lakefront bike path to take the route it does along the Inner Drive. The existing alternate loop around the apartment building there isn't much of a solution. It's too far out of the way, and its crossing of Grand isn't as bad as the one along the Inner Drive but it's still confusing, difficult, and forces fast-moving bike commuters to mingle with slow-moving Navy Pier pedestrian traffic.

I have no problem at all attributing the things that the cyclist did unsafely to him, and in general, the things that Chicago cyclists routinely do unsafely to them. Some of the things that you list as potential excuses, alertness, configuration of mirrors and blind spots, are responsibilities of each user of the road.