Don’t count on Police for even the smallest token of justice, a Traffic Ticket!

Don’t count on Police for even the smallest token of justice, a Traffic Ticket!
So, I was hit by a car while cycling on Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park 4 weeks ago on a warm, sunny evening. The painted lines for the designated bike lane offered no protection of course.  A 23 year-old driver left-hooked me as she turned onto Francis Place and caused damage to her bumper, my bike, and most of all me!  I am still mending and learning how miserable life is with broken toes. 
The car’s driver was not cited and never will be unless I pursue a civil case against her.  Her auto insurance company has already admitted fault at least.  But my question is why wasn’t she ticketed, at a minimum, for failing to yield to my right-of-way? I spoke with the sergeant of the officers that responded to the 911 call and they did not even get on shift until after my crash. Because there was nobody at the scene when they arrived, there was nobody to ticket.  Before I left in the ambulance about 15 min. after crash, the driver texted pictures of her insurance, license plate, and driver’s license and I had the contact info of 2 witnesses which I shared with the police from the ER that evening.  There’s no denying by any party who was responsible for this crash.  But other than writing up a crash report, the police don’t really investigate an accident after-the-fact or write tickets unless someone dies sadly. They are understaffed and underfunded I am told. So I guess I should be happy I live to tell this tale?  The reality is, even though their job is to “serve and protect” the only one the Chicago Police is serving in this case is the negligent driver.
Bottom line, because the police did not arrive on scene in a timely manner, due to shift change, understaffing or whatever the reason, it’s up to me, the victim, to pursue justice.  If I don’t, the driver can continue to hit cyclists as often as her distractions allow and as long as the police do not arrive quickly and nobody dies, the driver will never have any points on her driving record and will never have her license suspended. Perhaps her insurance premium will increase but that’s not much of a price to pay for nearly killing someone, is it? Heck, she can even be under the influence or texting with no consequences!  Nobody will ever know if the police do not investigate swiftly and promptly.

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Cyclist is hit by a car and has to wait for a shift change to get a 911 response.  As if that’s not bad enough, then they don’t do a damn thing to help. So sad. 

Unfortunately, police don't issue tickets against drivers in many situations where they should. Pursuing an insurance claim against the at-fault driver's insurance company (and making their rates go up), is as much justice as most of us will get.

The insurance-related path is the best available, and arguably it would be better at this point if money was flowing to you instead of to the city in the form of a traffic ticket/fine. 

Anne's correct. On another and related note:  In Chicago and elsewhere, the lack of police staffing is part of a national trend, and for separate reasons there are some who advocate for that decrease from a variety of perspectives unrelated to transportation.  CPD morale and responsiveness is down, retirements and job vacancies are up. 

Meanwhile, Milwaukee Avenue is an unfortunate example of CDOT's views, vision and methods with respect to multi-modal traffic and transportation.  The discussion of a myriad of collisions on Milwaukee can be found throughout Chainlink.  From a safety standpoint in my studied opinion, it's a good example of how not to do things.  Compounding the troubles, people are lured into using Milwaukee Ave., adding to the problems.

Agree but what if driver is not insured and/or has an expired driver's license?  It's not the job of the victim or insurance company to enforce traffic laws, it falls on the police. Failure for them to do so, particularly when someone is injured (not just paralyzed or dead) is apathetic and dismissive. If funding is part of the problem, imagine the revenue they could bring in with more enforcement of laws, especially more numerous infractions like bike lane parking violations?

Good reply from Dave Simmons, Executive Director, Ride Illinois I wanted to share:


Illinois has laws that aim to protect cyclists (3 foot passing, anti-harassment, etc), but local law enforcement isn’t always aware of them which only exacerbates the challenges that cyclists face.

Stiffer penalties for motorists who injure or a vulnerable road user is a topic that is discussed somewhat regularly. Ride Illinois, Active Trans and some other organizations are meeting in July to discuss shared legislative priorities for 2022. The topic of stiffer penalties for motorists is on that list. We know that our future discussion does not solve your situation or your injuries.

For what it’s worth, there are currently 10 states that have Vulnerable Road User Laws – far too few! The following page from the League of American Bicyclists is a good resource for VRU laws. It’s something that will be leveraged if and when this legislation is pursued in Illinois. While we can’t promise that will be in 2022, your crash is another example as to why a VRU law needs to be seriously considered.

I was doored mid-block, the driver admitted fault to the officer, and the officer still refused to ticket him because they didn't witness it. The shift leader (sorry I don't know his rank) even went so far as to quip: "you probably ran a red light before that, so should we ticket you too?"

Luckily, only my bike was damaged. His insurance admitted fault and paid out in full. As it was my primary mean of transportation, I billed them for CTA rides, ubers, cabs, etc until my bike was repaired. The driver got off with his insurance paying $700 - $800 instead of that and a $1,000 ticket.

Crazy!  "probably ran red light..."   Seems like we all need cameras and record every mile we ride!

When I was 5 a dude stole our car and hit me with it and it took CPD 3 hours to bother to show up.

Even though this did not work out how it SHOULD have worked out, you should know that you did the most important thing YOU could do: You were your own best advocate. You contacted the police. You engaged the driver and her insurance company. You sought advice from trusted sources.

Wishing you a speedy recovery. 

When I was hit by a driver while riding my bike, he had minimal insurance.  My car insurance paid out for the full amount minus his full amount.  Check with your insurance agent if you don't drive on how to get more protection.  I doubled my policy after I understood this, and the price didn't increase very much at all.

Meanwhile, it was correct above that the city could generate more police funding by issuing more tickets, however helping to fund the police that way was specifically not what some folks wanted.  It was felt the city was exploiting public safety systems to raise revenues as these article both discuss.  Chicago then reimagined its traffic and parking enforcement for speeding, vehicles, parking, and the related fines & fees.  Here's some background discussion:

And from NPR:

I hope you're able to recover, both physically and perhaps from the other party involved.

Thanks @Mike Keating!

Good point @Eric Pounder!  I have no car or car insurance but since this crash, I've been added as additional driver to my significant other's policy. Wish I had done this before.

@ketoguychicago, thanks, yes the city exploits us all in many ways and I feel for the low-income drivers who have that burden. But ticketing should be increased where safety is an issue, i.e. blocking bike lanes, doorings, hitting people with your car, etc.   A ticket for an expired meter or city sticker, on the other hand, is the opposite I would argue.


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