With the milder weather arriving in the Windy City, Chicagoans will start seeing more and more people riding their bicycles. A significant number of people in Chicago use their bikes in lieu of taking car trips, and even bicycle to work in many cases. They get good exercise, avoid the motor vehicle congestion on city streets, and help the environment by cutting down on the number of cars on the roads.
And there will soon be even more bicycles on Chicago streets – because the city council has approved a new Chicago bike-sharing plan.
The program is similar to those already in place in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis – and cities like Los Angeles, New York, and others will soon embrace the bike-sharing concept as well.The idea is simple: Chicago will supply about 3,000 bikes which will be placed in numerous locations around the city by year’s end. Residents who want to use the bikes simply pick them up at one location and drop them off at another when they’re finished using them. The city of Chicago will spend about $27.3 million to set up and run the Chicago bike-sharing program for the first year – $18 million of which will be funded with a federal grant.If you are thinking of taking advantage of the Chicago bike-sharing program, it is important that you keep a few things in mind:
- Bicyclists must ride on the roadways and not on sidewalks unless there are signs which permit doing so.
- Bicyclists must obey the same rules of the road as vehicles do.
- Bicyclists are strongly encouraged (though not required by law) to wear a helmet at all times and reflective or light-colored clothing at night.
- If a bicyclist is involved in an accident in which a motorist is at fault, he or she can filed a personal injury lawsuit against the vehicle driver to collect reimbursement for medical expenses and other related damages.
- In most cases, a bicyclist who is riding on a city-owned bike will not be able to sue the city for a bike accident that he or she is involved in. The only exception would be if the bicycle is not well-maintained or malfunctions, and that issue leads directly to an unavoidable accident.
It remains to be seen how successful Chicago’s bike sharing program will be – or if the bikes are simply stolen by thieves.