Wait For It…

Dangerous city traffic situation

The maxim of comedy to “wait for it,” meaning, wait for the punchline, is ingrained into my memory mostly by the fabulously written, outrageous comedy of the early aughts, Arrested Development. Much as I will never be able to hear an air horn again without jumping immediately to an image of Pete Rose sliding into a base and scatological thoughts in my head, I cannot get over the Ron Howard narration instructing me, the viewer, to “wait for it.”

Well, my almost-daily bike ride always inspires me to write about something, and, unfortunately, near-death experiences at the same intersection (both directions on the same day) inspired me to write thusly.

I wish I could be as funny as the aforementioned show, but nearly running people over is serious business.

Left Is Not Always Right (of Way)

Because beating dead horses (no Churchill Downs or Bob Baffert references right now) is kind of what I do, this is a good place to start.

When you are the operator of a motor vehicle in Illinois and are making a left turn, it is always your duty to FIRST wait until the coast is clear before beginning your turn.

What if you have a green arrow? NO!

But the vehicles coming toward me are far away (I think I can beat them). NO!

I don’t see any cars, just a bike. NO!

I can start my turn without looking toward the crosswalk of the street I am turning onto to check for pedestrians. NO!

To summarize for the stubborn, you cannot turn left unless you are certain you have the right of way and you are sure there is no pedestrian, bicycle, or anything else in your pathway.

Even if those folks are scampering across the street on a red light or Do Not Walk sign.

Even if you are in a hurry.

Even if you have a green arrow.

Even if your light has turned red.

What About Me?

While it does seem to be all about “me” in traffic land, with lots of folks in their own little worlds, it is not the way things are intended to be.

Pedestrians always lose to cars and trucks, as do bicyclists, motorcyclists, scooters, and just about everything else. When you operate a car or truck, you are a huge vehicle vis-à-vis the others on the roadway and it is your job to be careful to look for others upon the road.

Even if they are darting across the road, running against the light.

Swear at them all you want, either loudly or under your breath, for those of you restrained types, but don’t run people, bikes, or other things over just because you’re mad at them, running late, or, as a gentleman explained to me when he rushed past my vehicle and scraped my side view mirror, “I have to get home and pee.” Sorry—legitimate issue, but not an excuse for running into others.

All About Me

This post isn’t about me, but here’s what happened to me.

My first near-death experience was starting from a red light that turned green. I began coasting forward clipping into my pedals when first one, then another, vehicle blasted through the left turn lane facing me when I had a green light. The first car was way too late, but clearly accelerating to beat the light. I was able to look up and unclip and slow, but then a second one, a giant SUV, driven by a man holding a phone to his ear (yes, operating a vehicle with a non-hands free device is illegal—do it often enough and you’ll get your license suspended) blew through. He never saw me, looked at me, or slowed. If I hadn’t been able to stop on a dime (thank you, disc brakes), I wouldn’t be writing this.

Okay, not so bad. I continued my ride up north and on the way back at the same intersection, I had a similar experience. This time, I had a solid green light. I was proceeding in the protected bike lane on a solid green light. I looked carefully to my right, my left, and straight ahead to be sure no one was in my path. I had the right-of-way, but that means nothing, apparently. Next thing I know, as I’m in the intersection, a vehicle plows through the intersection making a left turn right in front of me. I was back far enough so I could see it and slow down.

But then the second vehicle—this time a giant pickup truck—flew through a left turn right into my path. He never slowed, never made any attempt to avoid me, and even yelled at me as he watched me slam my brakes and stop sideways (nearly toppling over) just in time. He decided he was going to make that turn even if he didn’t have the right to, and even if there was a living human in his way. He really just didn’t care.

And you wonder why I keep preaching this stuff.

Stay safe. Be aware of your surroundings. Look for and notice pedestrians, bikes, and other vehicles. And do not assume that a green light gives you the green light with no strings attached.


  • Making a left turn REQUIRES you to be certain the right -of-way is clear.
  • Just having a green arrow or light does not allow you to go in all circumstances.
  • You may hate cyclists or be having a bad day, but if you “take it out” on the cyclist, your day will become a lot worse.

Contact Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Stephen Hoffman

As in all cases involving injury, dog bites or injuries, workers’ compensation, medical malpractice, or other injury and potential liability, if you have been hit by a vehicle, immediately get medical treatment, report the crash to police and your own insurance company, and contact a lawyer with expertise in your type of case, such as bicycle accidents or pedestrians hit by cars.

If you've been in an accident and have questions, contact Chicago personal injury attorney Stephen L. Hoffman for a free consultation at (773) 944-9737. Stephen has over 30 years of legal experience and has collected millions of dollars for his clients. He is listed as a SuperLawyer, has a 10.0 rating on Avvo, and is BBB A+ accredited. He is also an Executive Level Member of the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.

Stephen handles personal injury claims on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay anything up front, and he only gets paid if you do. Don’t wait another day; contact Stephen now.

Categories: Bicycle Accidents