Environmentalists and healthcare advocates have long promoted cycling as a healthy alternative to driving a car. Unfortunately, as the popularity of cycling increases in the city, deaths from accidents with motor vehicles are going up.
Why are more cyclists dying and what is the city doing about it?
Increase in cyclist deaths
Since 2016, about six cyclists died on Chicago roadways every year. That number rose to eight per year from 2016 to 2020. 10 cyclists died in 2021. Nationwide, cyclist deaths increased by 16% in 2020.
Several factors play into the increase. More people started riding bikes during the pandemic. Additionally, reckless driving incidents rose nationwide and many cities removed barriers and other protections for cyclists to speed up car traffic.
How to increase cyclist safety
Advocates say that adding more protected bike lanes, lowering speed limits and adding physical barriers will increase safety for cyclists on Chicago roads. Many claim that the city has promoted cycling, but has not invested in the changes needed to keep cyclists safe on roads designed primarily for motor vehicles.
The city is attempting to change this by enacting a $15 million plan to build and connect 48 additional miles of bike corridors and trails and 125 miles of new bike lanes on city streets. The city’s goal is to have 500 miles of bikeways in the city within two to three years.
Unfortunately, bike lanes are only safe for cyclists when drivers respect them. Many Chicago drivers do not. Motorists who stop, park and drive in the bike lanes put cyclists at risk and cause serious injuries and deaths.