Bicyclist dodges drivers illegally passing other drivers on Northwest Highway

Type

Right hook or left hook
Had to stop abruptly

What happened

Second time in less than a week. Before approaching intersection of Harlem Avenue and Northwest Highway heading northbound, two drivers have swerved into the bike lane in order to pass a vehicle (on the right). I was riding in the bike lane and always assume people will attempt to kill me and drive recklessly. Given that, riding in a marked bike lane and just before an intersection is not when you expect someone to pass a car (on the right) and drive into the bike lane. I notice drivers like to do this even if it’s a stop sign or red light if they are turning right. They seem to get off on passing someone, nearly killing a bicyclist and speeding towards the intersection.

Since I was doored by a drunk driver in the area last year, I always remain extremely cautious. The two vehicles were an SUV and a minivan, both red. I am saving money to purchase a camera to record this sort of behavior. I assume the drivers are drunk or not paying attention at all. I didn’t experience this until the recent opening of two bars that are open later in the evening, both of which are located along Northwest Highway close to this intersection. In addition the street lights have been completely blacked out from the 5600-6000 blocks of North Northwest Highway, though I have noticed blacked out street lights in significant portions of Chicago at night in many neighborhoods. I always am cautious but can’t account for a technical problem on my bike that might occur just as someone is swerving into me riding in order to pass another vehicle, which would then almost certainly cause a fatal accident.

Suggested improvements for this location: Improved lighting on bike lane, the installation of reflectors that I have seen on streets such as Division Street west of Western Avenue along marked bike lanes such as the one along Northwest Highway, possible monitoring of the intersection by police to ticket itinerant drivers (probably not possible in an area populated heavily by police as residents), and delayed traffic lights so that cars must stop before turning. Another improvement might be the plastic lane protectors such as those along Kinzie Street, that would eliminate the issue of cars passing and swerving into bicyclists.