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Warmer weather means watch for runners & cyclists

With temperatures headed into the 50's this week and the snow melting, many of us are looking forward to our first runs and rides of the season. Motorists have gone a few months without seeing us everywhere, so it will take them some time to remember again to check alley exits and move over to pass, etc.. Everybody stay safe out there.

I've been debating whether to get myself a Garmin Virb lately. Less because I want to see my rides over again in HD, and more for the security factor. I like the insurance that a good bike camera can provide in the event of an accident. Having a license plate number can be valuable in finding drivers who flee the scene. But on the other hand, police don't really investigate video evidence unless there is injury or a very serious crime. Drivers harassing cyclists comes to mind as an example of how they've been used. My run-ins with motorists tend to be fairly light, however, and I'm more likely to use it to capture wildlife by the creek in the end. So I'm trying to justify the purchase price in my head. Chances are I won't need to turn footage over to police...but what if I do need to? It's kind of like a helmet. You're not going to need it unless you need it.

My biggest pet peeve--in fact, I'd argue many cyclist pet peeves about motorists--can be fixed by cyclist behavior. I hate when cars pull up at a stoplight to my left and make a right-turn-on-red in front of me. The solution is for me to pull up into the intersection so that a vehicle cannot get around me to turn. "I am traffic" and all that.

Bicyclists, you're actually most likely...in Chicago, at least...to be hit from behind or crossed by a turning car who either passes and turns into you or left-turns in front of you. It's the reason drivers are often at fault in car-bike accidents despite motorists complaints to the contrary. A simple reminder though to try to make eye contact when possible. The same goes for intersection right-of-way. I like to make sure cars have seen me and never assume they will stop like they are supposed to.

A word to the wise, cyclists should always ride with traffic. Runners, you should run against traffic if you are in the street. Drivers, always assume there will be a runner or other pedestrian crossing your path as you pull out of driveways. If you're in your car, remember that not only do you have to give 3 feet of clearance to the left as you pass a bike, but that bike also gets to ride out in the road away from obstacles. Especially on Chicago streets with parked cars, that means cyclists will probably be riding well to the left of the "door zone."

If you have questions about cycling etiquette, rules of the road, or safety don't hesitate to ask...if I can't answer, I have some great bike-specific lawyer friends who would be happy to clarify.

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