The term “cycling community” gets thrown around often when talking about cyclists in Chicago. Everyone, regardless of how or why they ride their bike, is included in this community no matter their involvement. However, for it to be a true community there needs to be members who both support and look out for fellow cyclists. With that in mind, the Freeman Kevenides Law Firm has become a crucial supporter for cyclists across Chicagoland.
“People ask me sometimes what makes us different, there are other firms out there that say they are bike law firms,” attorney Brendan Kevenides said. “What makes us different is that’s all we do. We are the only firm, as far as I know, that only handles vulnerable user cases with the vast majority being bicycles.”
The Chicago firm almost exclusively handles bicycle cases, with some pedestrian cases as well. Since its creation in 2013 attorneys Kevenides and his partner Jim Freeman have been handling cases involving cyclists and championing the cause in a number of ways. However, the new firm was far from the start for either partner when it came to cycling cases.
Kevenides said he has been a cyclist for nearly all of his life in one aspect or another. As a personal injury lawyer, he handled a case where a man was killed after being hit by a car while riding his bike. After resolving that case he began to attract more and more attention from cyclists who were involved in accidents. It was around that time that Kevenides began writing his blog, The Chicago Bicycle Advocate. He still regularly writes and posts cases and news cyclists may need or want to learn involving their rights.
Freeman seemed to grow an underground following in the cycling world when he worked as a bicycle mechanic. Cyclists began asking him questions and bringing their cases to him for representation and as his success continued he and Kevenides became rivals of sort. After finally coming together, they now are on the forefront of cycling law by not only defending cyclists but also teaching and sponsoring groups and teams throughout the Chicagoland area.
“I work with Active Trans a lot, they have their crash support group that I help to train the people who receive the phone calls, I’m a member of their new advisory board,” Kevenides said. “My partner is on the board of directors at West town Bikes. I’m also a certified instructor with the League of American Bicyclists. I teach people how to ride safely in the city. We sponsor two racing clubs and I’m a member of the Chicago Cycling Club on their board. We are all over the place, are pretty deeply immersed in the cycling community, we like to consider ourselves part of it.”
Because of their involvement, the firm has kept close track of the changes going on in the city of Chicago involving the cycling infrastructure. Kevenides said he believes the city is headed in the right direction, even if some of the numbers may be contradictory. The most important thing, Kevenides said, is to get as many people out on bikes as possible. As more people take their bikes out, drivers will become more accustomed to having them around and the city will be forced to continue their plan of protected bike lanes. While there may be more crashes now than there were ten years ago, that is simply because there are more cyclists around. The actual percentage of cyclists involved in accidents is going down, Kevenides said.
The other benefit of their close coverage of cycling accidents is finding and classifying the different kinds of accidents. Kevenides said that there are three kinds of accidents that they see the most often. The most common kind is dooring, where a parked car opens a door into the bike lane causing the cyclists to either hit the door head on or swerve into traffic. This is by far the most seen kind of accident, Kevenides said. Following dooring is what the firm calls left-crosses, where a cyclist with the right-of-way isn’t seen by an oncoming car turning left either hitting the cyclist or causing the bike to hit the car. The third most common accident is the right-hook. In this case both the driver and cyclist are going in the same direction with the car turning right with the cyclist on its side, causing an accident.
The firm’s involvement with cyclists is more than just a role of support. Both Kevenides and Freeman are cyclists themselves as both partners take their bike into work every day. Additionally, Kevenides owns a road, cyclorcross and fixed gear bike along with his commuting bike. With all of this experience, Kevenides can attest to the dangers of cycling first hand. The lawyer has been involved in two accidents himself while riding, with the most recent coming just last year when Kevenides was involved in a dooring accident along Milwaukee Ave. in Wicker Park. His first accident occurred when Kevenides was just a teenager, but resulted in him waking up in the hospital.
While the majority of their cases and accidents in general happen within city limits, Kevenides said Chicago is probably much safer than most suburbs. Chicago drivers have now had a few years to become accustomed to the presence of cyclists in the streets, where suburban drivers are often much more unaware.
With each passing event the law firm becomes deeper involved in the cycling community, not only as advocates but participants. Kevenides said that they have been active at as many events recently as possible and he is now passing his love of cycling down to his daughter. Possibly for that very reason, however, Kevenides said he would love for their hard work now to eventually put them out of business.