Get Out the Way

Joseph Daddario

Graphic by Nicholas Joly



“Get out the way!” “Get off the sidewalk!” “Damn hippy!” are a few of the common things a biker hears while trying to maneuver around the obstacle course of Chicago streets. Drivers open doors and change lanes without looking for bikers – endangering the biker and other drivers! Not only do drivers hog the road but they are also overly aggressive and are territorial of the road.
Drivers feel that because they are in a giant gas-guzzling car that they own the roads but that should never be the case. Just because a car is bigger than a bike doesn’t mean that the driver can throw common courtesy out of the window. Drivers need to learn how to share the road, like Barney said, “Sharing is caring.” Many bikers have been seriously injured or killed from a rogue door and a negligent driver.

Bikers in Chicago also frequently witness aggressive and intentionally dangerous behavior against other bikers. I have personally witnessed many cycling incidents, including a woman who used her car to ram the back tire of a biker who, after signaling properly, had changed to her lane to make a turn.

I myself was doored while biking. Being doored is when a driver opens their car door without looking to see if a biker, or another car in some instances, is present. Hundred

Graphic by Nicholas Joly

s of bikers are injured in this way every year in Chicago, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT). This collision type is completely preventable by car drivers by taking an extra second to look out the rear windshield or checking the driver’s side mirror to see if the bike lane you are opening your door into is currently occupied by biker. There is relatively little a biker can do to avoid a suddenly opening door beside try to swerve out of the way, usually into equally dangerous traffic. When I was doored, I had taken all the safety precautions I was supposed to. I was wearing a helmet, had lights on the front AND back of my bike. I still was thrown into on-coming traffic. Instead of apologizing for not looking when opening his door the driver yelled at me and said “pay attention, a–hole.” He didn’t offer any insurance information and didn’t even ask if I was okay. He just walked away.


Other incidents include bikers being cut off by cars changing lanes, being run off the road or even in rare instances being thrown through the car door window sustaining serious injuries. Luckily I was relatively unscathed but my bike was not, the tire was bent from being run over by another car and the handlebars were crooked. But drivers aren’t solely at fault.

Chicago is seriously lacking in safe bike lanes. The roads themselves are horrendous as well. Huge potholes and absent-minded drivers hitting bikers with their doors are major problems. If drivers can admit that they aren’t the only vehicle on the road and actually look when changing lanes or opening doors, the roads would be safe for bikers and drivers alike. Drivers won’t have to worry about dents in their cars or injuring bikers, and bikers could feel safe riding on the roads. While Chicago is considered one of the top cities for bicycling by multiple bicycling alliances, with more than 170 miles of designated bike lanes, actual conditions could be better. Rahm Emmanuel proposed Bike 2015 Plan, which has eight chapters. Each chapter has specific goals like establishing a bikeway network that serves all neighborhoods, bicycle-friendly streets, educating bicyclists and motorists on how to deal with one another, and educating the general public about safe bicycling and promoting the health benefits of biking. These proposals, more so the educating drivers side, can make Chicago’s streets safer for bikers and drivers alike, offers opportunities to live a healthier lifestyle, decrease carbon emissions and save money!