Anti-dooring stickers, increased traffic fines highlight new bike safety initiatives in Chicago

The back-story behind Chicago’s announcement that anti-dooring stickers will go onto taxi windows (and if all goes well, parking pay boxes) is both tragic and inspiring.

Last fall, Neil Townsend was killed on his bike when he swerved to avoid an opening car door. Colleagues from his employer Minimal Design, and others from the local bicycle community via Chainlink.org, formed the Look! Chicago group to encourage anti-dooring strategies.

Their efforts inspired us to take the message to the commissioner for Chicago’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP), Rosemary Krimbel. BACP regulates taxi cabs and is responsible for the training of taxi drivers on how to share the road with cyclists and pedestrians.

We asked Commissioner Krimbel to put dooring warning stickers on taxi windows. After coordinating with Chicago Department of Transportation, she agreed, and also expressed an interest in adding anti-dooring PSAs to the rolling video content for cabs with video screens. That is still being explored.

Minimal designed the sticker that will go into cabs (pictured). Active Trans modified this slightly for the stickers that will hopefully go onto parking pay boxes, assuming an arrangement can be reached with Chicago Parking Meters, LLC.

Unfortunately, the contractor that manages their pay boxes wants the city to pay them to install, maintain and eventually take down worn stickers. Active Trans has asked them to waive the charge and donate the service.

The city also announced a proposed fine increase for motorists who cause doorings, going from the current $500 fine to $1,000. Active Trans is glad to see these anti-dooring initiatives because, with more and more people riding bikes in Chicago, it is imperative that motorists look for oncoming cyclists before opening car doors. This needs to become habitual for drivers.

The ordinance that would increase motorist fines also increases fines for rogue cyclists, from the current $25 fine to a range of $50 to $200. Too often we see people on foot, on bikes and driving cars traveling recklessly; Active Trans supports increased traffic fines as an important way to improve safety (along with better education and infrastructure).

Like motorists and even pedestrians who use roads recklessly, people who ride bikes recklessly should also be ticketed. We don’t endorse ticketing cyclists and drivers for minor violations that put no one at risk. Let the police focus on more important matters. But if you’re putting people at risk, a ticket is warranted whether you’re biking, walking or driving.

There is some other “clean up” language in the ordinance, like clarifying that cyclists don’t have to stay in bike lanes on streets that have them. The ordinance also officially sanctions what many of us already do, “taking the lane.”

Progress!

Here's coverage of the ordinance in the Chicago Sun-Times. 

Please note: an incorrect version of the sticker was posted initially. The correct version is shown above. 

Avoiding Dooring

Seems promising.

I'd suggest the A.T.A. investigates and collaborates with other bike groups all over North America, i.e. including Canada, to develop an approach that can be applied everywhere, and may be less costly overall.

I also think thought needs to given to including in the design more visual images, which would work for those who have less ability in English - aren't there are already lots of wordy signs in taxis ? Developing symbols to warn people to LOOK before opening the door could make it more effective than yet another written command.

-=-

Larger trucks in the U.K. sometimes have a sign posted warning cyclists against passing on the inside in stopped traffic. There has been a good deal of coverage of tragic and avoidable collisions, and I once got into trouble in this way here.
Could some consideration be given to that, also.

Thanks

Have you though about selling

Have you though about selling those as posters or magnets for bike allies to hang in their shops/cars? I would be willing to buy one and then it might generate at least a base line fund to help the fee of putting them around on parking meters?

Simple dooring solution

The best way to avoid doorings is to teach drivers ed the way they do in Europe. Open your car door with your right hand (or left in the UK). That way you're forced to look over your shoulder and will be more likely to see bikers peripherally. Of course, that would be too easy and wouldn't make any money for the city. Maybe an addendum to the sticker "Look before opening your door...with your right hand". Four extra words that could save lives.

Great dooring signage and education solutions

Love these ideas Jay, Kate, and David!

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