In Transit: Suburban cyclists want a little respect from drivers

  • Sharing the road with cars takes vigilance and caution, suburban cyclists say.

    Sharing the road with cars takes vigilance and caution, suburban cyclists say. Patrick Kunzer/pkunzer@dailyherald

  • April is Distracted Driving month and the Illinois State Police will conduct extra patrols looking for drivers using hand-held devices.

    April is Distracted Driving month and the Illinois State Police will conduct extra patrols looking for drivers using hand-held devices. Daily Herald file photo

 
 
Posted4/8/2019 5:30 AM

Diane Pedersen hit the pavement when an oblivious driver struck her bicycle in Naperville.

Bryan Ketter held his breath when a Land Rover almost obliterated his bike in St. Charles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

And Bob Thomson is unnerved when drivers holler, "Bikes don't belong on the road!"

After our March column about Kane County Transportation Director Carl Schoedel's bicycle being rear-ended, local cyclists shared their misadventures.

One common concern: Suburbanites don't expect cyclists.

"Drivers turning right without looking is a frequent risk for cyclists and pedestrians," Pedersen said. Back in fall 2013, she double-checked a stopped car before proceeding on a green light at the busy intersection of Washington Street and Iroquois Avenue in Naperville.

"I really thought the guy had seen me and my flashing bike lights before I proceeded to ride," she said. Unfortunately, the driver turned right into Pedersen.

"Because he was turning after being stopped, he wasn't going very fast, so I was just knocked from my bike, landing hard on my arm, and suffering minor bruises and abrasions," Pedersen said. "My bike's front wheel was crushed."

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St. Charles cyclist Bryan Ketter, meanwhile, says he experiences one or two close calls a month.

While Ketter stopped at 7th and Prairie streets near downtown St. Charles on March 14, "a woman in a Land Rover never looked up and came within 6 inches of my front tire."

Disconnects between cars and bikes so troubled Ketter and his neighbors that they organized a traffic-calming meeting that drew a crowd. Now they're working with the city on a fix.

"We have decided residential streets are for all of us, including kids and bikes," Ketter said.

Cyclist Chris Drouganis finds most drivers are courteous, but is pained by a few bad apples.

At a St. Patrick's Day bike event in Wauconda, "a driver in a pickup truck came blowing by blasting his horn at us," he recounted.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Later on a 45 mph street, "a few drivers made a point to not move over at all. Getting passed by an aggressive driver while they're going 45 mph and texting is nerve-wracking," Drouganis said.

Cyclists aren't the only ones with opinions about sharing the road. Driver David Jacobson gets irked when "cyclists are riding on the street ... rather than on the paved bike path," for example, Bode/Springinsguth Road in Schaumburg.

And Joanne Reisener of Volo wishes cyclists would use common sense and ride in single file. Last spring "I was going south down Callahan Road in Wauconda when I came up behind a group of about 30 bikers going two or three abreast down the road.

"The road was curvy and hilly, so as I went out and around to pass there was another group coming north I couldn't see. Everyone so lucky I could cut back in and miss them all," Reisener said.

Avid cyclist Bob Thomson of St. Charles has "had drivers pull up slowly next to me and tell me that bikes don't belong. They yell stuff out their window, blow their horns, etc."

Illinois law requires drivers to give cyclists at least 3 feet of space when passing, but "I've had vehicles pass me within less that one foot," Thomson said.

He uses bike paths occasionally but warns they're not for "serious bikers" because of walkers, joggers, people with strollers and dogs also occupying the space.

"They are understandably enjoying their time getting outside. They just need to understand that they are not alone," Thomson said.

Got an opinion on driving or cycling in the suburbs? Drop an email to mpyke@dailyherald.com.

One more thing

"Isn't it illegal for any vehicle to ride on the shoulder?" a reader asked. It turns out that a law clarifying bicycles are allowed on the shoulder went into effect in 2018. What about sidewalks? "The state vehicle code allows people biking to ride on the sidewalk unless otherwise marked so," Kyle Whitehead of the Active Transportation Alliance said.

You should know

CN Railroad is seeking to install 4½ miles of train track parallel to its existing mainline close to homes near Hoffman Estates and east Elgin. The deadline to comment on the plan is April 15. Email Soren.G.Hall@usace.army.mil.

Gridlock alert

Bridge closures start this week on I-355 in Glen Ellyn. The Hill Avenue bridge closes Monday for a week and will be followed by Crescent Boulevard.

Eyes on the road

April is Distracted Driving month and the Illinois State Police will conduct extra patrols looking for drivers using hand-held devices.

Three state troopers died after being struck by motorists this year while federal data shows 3,166 people were killed in collisions involving distracted drivers in 2017.

Disturbingly, 71 percent of drivers shoot photos or videos when passing emergency vehicles on the side of the road, the National Safety Council and Emergency Responder Safety Institute reports.

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