Especially in a city like Chicago, more and more bicyclists are commuting and sharing the roadways with motorists. The biggest fear of most bicyclists is being struck by a motor vehicle. In fact, the fear of a collision with an automobile is the single greatest impediment to getting more people on bikes—many people want to ride, but don’t feel safe when bicycle infrastructure is inadequate or nonexistent.
It is very important to remember that as a cyclist there are things you can and should do to avoid collisions with automobiles and injuries from collisions. Here is a list of laws, commonly referred to as the rules of the road, that bicyclists must follow:
- The traffic laws that apply to a driver of a vehicle also apply to cyclists, except where the laws by their nature can have no application to cyclists. (NOTE: This means cyclists have the same rights and duties as motorists.)
- If traveling below the normal speed of traffic, a cyclist must ride as close as practicable and safe to the right-hand curb or edge of the road, except:
- When passing another bike.
- When preparing for a left turn.
- When trying to avoid unsafe conditions (e.g. pedestrians, animals, debris, potholes).
- When making a right turn.3.
- Cyclists may ride no more than two (2) abreast, except on paths or roads used exclusively for bikes. However, cyclists riding two (2) abreast may not impede the normal and reasonable flow of traffic and must ride within a single lane.
- Cyclists may not carry anything that prevents the use of both hands to control the bike.
- Cyclists must always keep at least one (1) hand on the handlebars.
- When ridden at night, a bike must have a lamp on the front which emits white light visible from at least 500 feet and a red reflector on the rear visible from one hundred (100) to six hundred (600) feet. A red lamp in the rear may be used in addition to a white reflector.
- All bikes must have a brake.
- If a police officer has a reasonable belief that a bike is not safe or does not have the equipment required by law, he/she may stop the rider and inspect the bike.
- A bicycle can only be occupied and/or ridden by the number of people the bike is designed to accommodate (i.e., one (1) person per seat). However, an exception exists for adults carrying a child in a pack.
- Cyclists may not cling or grab onto vehicles.
- A parent or guardian of a child can not knowingly permit a child to violate the law.
- Additionally, cities and township may have conditions that specifically apply to cyclists. For example, in the City of Chicago, ordinances provide:
- Cyclists twelve (12) years of age or older may not ride on a sidewalk unless it is a designated bicycle route and no cyclist may ride on a sidewalk in a business district.
- Cyclists may not ride on a road which has an adjacent bicycle path.
- Cyclists must ride single file except on bicycle paths or parts of the roadway specifically set aside for the exclusive use of cyclists.
*Source, Article XV of Chapter 11 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/Ch. 11 Art. XV)
For more information with bicycle safety tips, please read the Bicycle Rules of the Road published by the Illinois Secretary of State.
Tragically, even though we have clear Rules of the Road, each year hundreds of bicyclists are killed in each year in preventable motor vehicle crashes. To discuss a potential case with one of Passen & Powell’s attorneys, call us at 312-527-4500 for a Free Consultation.