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Chicago trains officers on cycling laws

The Chicago police created a great video describing the rights and responsibilities of bicyclists. In many cities, officers not familiar with the laws often incorrectly ticket bicyclists when drivers turn across their path unsafely, hit them with doors, or pass too close. After crashes, police reports too often unfairly blame the cyclist, or officers resist taking a police report from a cyclist.

A Chicago PD officer narrates this video, and interviews fellow officers who bicycle about the many hazards they encounter. They emphasize that "bikes belong on the road," and say, ""The public counts on us to keep the roads safe, and to protect those who are at the greatest risk."

One of my favorite parts is when the narrating officer says, "Failure to [check for bikes before opening a door] can cause a dangerous crash, what bicyclists call 'dooring,' and we call 'Violation MCC 9-80-035 Open Door In Traffic.'" Watch out for those MCC 9-80-035s out there, folks.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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Among the many cities in which I've biked, Chicago is by far the most bike-friendly, a testament to Mayor Daley's tireless efforts to create bike lanes and encourage bike safety. I hope Mayor Fenty and DC police learn from this fantastic example.

Alas, as shown in the Alice Swanson case mentioned above, law-abiding bikers in DC are all too often maimed or killed by careless drivers, only to have DC police give drivers a free pass.

by A DC biker on Sep 12, 2009 4:21 pm • linkreport

This excellent presentation would have been much stronger if every one of the bike riders in this video had been wearing a helmet. Without a helmet, injury is just a matter of time. The dangers of bike riding without a helmet known personally to this writer include death, amnesia, reduction of memory and inability to solve mathematical equations.

Get a helmet. They're charming and they could save your life.

by Mme Magpie on Sep 13, 2009 9:17 am • linkreport

Mme Magpie, do you wear a helmet when you ride in a car? You're just as likely to suffer a head injury in a car as you are on a bike. Do you wear a helmet when walking around town? Again, just as likely (more likely when there is ice on the ground - do you wear one then?)

Helmets can protect cyclists from injury, but unless you're advocating them for everyone who needs them, you're perpetuating the myth that cycling is "dangerous."

Helmets among cyclists caught on because in the late 90's many people were getting on their bikes enticed by the sport of cycling. Most races require cyclists to wear helmets - which makes sense, bike racing IS dangerous because riders go fast and ride closer to one another than is safe and in positions that emphasize speed over safety. So, in an effort to look the part, American cyclists wore helmets. NASCAR drivers wear helmets too, and flame retardant suits, but ordinary drivers do not. Do you wear a helmet and a flame retardant suit when you ride in a car?

They're charming and could save your life.

by David C on Sep 13, 2009 2:11 pm • linkreport

This excellent presentation would have been much stronger if every one of the bike riders in this video had been wearing a helmet. Without a helmet, injury is just a matter of time. The dangers of bike riding without a helmet known personally to this writer include death, amnesia, reduction of memory and inability to solve mathematical equations.

Oh, for the love of God. This kind of fuzzy-thinking makes me wander if you've been riding without a helmet.

What David C said...

by ibc on Sep 13, 2009 8:15 pm • linkreport

I like the fact that cyclists are riding without helmets, because it shows that riding a bike is an everyday activity that anyone can undertake just by hopping on their bike--no special equipment or gear required.
When I ride my "toodler" 3-speed around town to run errands, I just hop and go--no helmet. When I get on my road bike for a longer exercise ride, then I wear it.

by Steve O on Sep 13, 2009 8:52 pm • linkreport

I'm not going to wade into the helmet thing, just to say that when I ride, I wear a one.

It was a good video, though I couldn't stick around to the very very end.

My question is: where's the one for DC??

And my comment is - it would be GREAT if they could put this on TV as a PSA. It would make it much more effective.

by Jazzy on Sep 13, 2009 9:57 pm • linkreport

It's funny, as a biker I've never found myself seriously worrying about the scenarios in the first part of the video. I think the main ingredient of caution is to make sure you don't put yourself in a situation where a car could do something to you that don't expect. Within reason, that is. It's not always possible.

The only thing that still worries me is Mr. MCC 9-80-035 Open Door In Traffic. That one you've got no control over. Has anyone had a close call or actually seen it happen?

by Nick on Sep 13, 2009 10:23 pm • linkreport

David C is 100% correct in my book.

The USA racing bicycle madness has caused the average person to view cycling only as a sporting pastime and not an everyday activity.
While I would wear a helmet riding on a trail like Mt Vernon Trail where the aggressive racers & roller bladers oftentimes sideswipe or cause accidents, one can plainly see that in countries like Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Holland, where bicycle use is much much more frequent , mode share is higher, and accident rates are tiny when compared to the USA- most people do not wear helmets.

I do not trust many cyclists who wear helmets as they tend to be more wreckless and go fast.

A huge part of the problem is that in the USA- bicyclists fall under motor vehicle rules/ laws/regs- and thus are forced to cycle in the roads w/ auto traffic. A bicycle is not a motor vehicle and should never be treated as such. All of this "share the road" crap is racer /athletic propaganda and perpetuates the myth that to bicycle you need to be a lithe and slim guy in a dinosaurish-looking helmet with shoes you cant walk in- and it makes people think that cycling is inherently a dangerous activity.

Bicyclists need to get away from racing, mountain biking and going too fast.


I want to see more women , elderly people, families, regularly dressed people and less macho male skinny guys in peacock costumes biking.

Is this really some sort of totalitarian Utopia ?

by w on Sep 14, 2009 12:38 pm • linkreport

I was involved in a solo bike accident last year. It was caused by my haste to get to a class on time. No helmet, but definitely struck my head at least a bit and had a bad headache for an hour or so. Only a bit of road rash on the hands and in a week I was fine.

I wish I could remember the article that mentioned that drivers were more aggressive in passing and less concerned/aware of bicyclists who wore helmets than those who were helmet-less.

I'm definitely more worried about getting struck by an automobile while I'm obeying the laws of the road (where a helmet makes little to no difference) than I am bumping my noggin of my own fault.

by kidincredible on Sep 14, 2009 12:52 pm • linkreport

This video makes me miss Chicago. And these comments show some people (*Mme Magpie*) will complain about anything just to have something to say.

by Ogden on Sep 14, 2009 1:57 pm • linkreport

Jazzy- You mentioned that you know someone who saw the Sept 3 accident at Florida and Connecticut Aves. where the bus struck the jogger. We represent the jogger and would like to speak with that witness (or any others). Could you please ask the person to call Lisa K at the law firm Regan, Zambri & Long, at 202-349-2813. Thank you very much.

by susan gail on Sep 26, 2009 10:57 pm • linkreport

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