A 37-year old Chicago bicyclist has been killed in an apparent “right hook” at the intersection of Milwaukee Avenue and Kimball Avenue on the city’s northwest side. According to news reports, the bicyclist was riding southeast on Milwaukee Avenue when she was struck by a dump truck as its driver turned right onto Kilbourn Avenue.
This section of Milwaukee Avenue contains marked bike lanes on both sides of Milwaukee Avenue and the adjacent section of Kilbourn that runs parallel to the railroad tracks. Metra’s Grayland station and Schurz High School are near this intersection and there is near constant bicycle traffic at this intersection due to the Milwaukee bike lane, the train station and the high school.
Chicago’s CBS 2 is reporting that the Chicago Police’s Major Accidents Investigation Unit are investigating this fatal crash. However, initial reports by CBS 2 reflect that the Chicago Police are incorrectly categorizing this as a scenario in which the driver of the dump truck had the legal right-of-way.
Given the presence of the bicycle lane on Milwaukee Avenue this is incorrect. Section 9-16-020 of the Municipal Code of Chicago specifically provides that a motor vehicle should not turn right across the path of a bicyclist traveling in the same direction until it is “clear” and safe to make the turn. This action is known as a “right hook” and is in direct violation of Chicago’s Municipal Code. Under this section of the Municipal Code, there is no exception for the bicyclist being in the driver’s “blind spot.” The duty is on the driver of a vehicle turning right across a bike lane to check for oncoming bicycle traffic prior to turning right.
In addition, the driver of a industrial truck like the one identified in this crash is required to adhere to all of the applicable rules of the road including the Illinois Vehicle Code and the Federal requirements. Here are some of the key laws that apply to a bicycle crash of this nature:
- 49 C.F.R. Section 383.111 of the Code of Federal Regulations requires a professional driver to recognize and avoid potential hazards at all times around a turning tractor truck.
- Section 11-1003.1 of the Illinois Motor Vehicle Code states that every driver of a vehicle must 1) always exercise care to avoid colliding with pedestrians and bicyclists, and 2) sound their horn to provide warning of an impending impact.