In its 2012 Bicycle Crash Analysis report, the City of Chicago wrote that it is dedicated to setting goals for improving the safety of its roads for cyclists, drivers and pedestrians. The report further stated that it pursued its analysis of factors contributing to Chicago bike crashes in order to achieve its goals of the 2015 Chicago Bike Plan and 2020 Streets for Cycling Plan. Lawmakers, city officials and law enforcement members have recognized the importance of implementing laws that promote the safety of bicyclists on Illinois roads and highways. Some of the most relevant and important laws that are applicable to bicycle safety in Illinois include:
- Illinois Compiled Statutes Section 605 ILCS 5/Illinois Highway Code
- Municipal Code of Chicago, Title 9: Vehicles, Traffic and Rail Transportation
- Bicyclist Safety Enforcement Initiative
- Pedestrian Safety Crosswalk Enforcement Initiative
- Red Light Camera Enforcement Initiative
- 9-40-160: Drivers to Exercise Due Care
- 11-703: Overtaking a Vehicle on the Left
- 9-40-060: Driving, Standing or Parking on Bicycle Paths or Lanes Prohibited
- 9-40-120: Cars May not Obstruct Intersections or Crosswalks
- 9-36-060: Drivers May not Overtake Other Vehicles at Crosswalks
Knowing and Understanding Bicycle Laws
All drivers, bike riders and pedestrians have duty to understand Illinois traffic laws. The Latin phrase, “Ignorantia juris non excusat,” has its roots and tradition in the development of the American common law. Translated, this phrase means, “Ignorance of the law excuses no one.” This means that even individuals unaware of their wrongdoing, such as dooring a bike rider, may be liable for their acts under Illinois laws.
The Legal Duty of Drivers Under Illinois Law
Under Illinois law, all drivers have a legal obligation to avoid hitting bike riders on the road. Drivers must make an effort to operate their vehicles in a safe fashion. If a driver fails to exercise due care, he or she may be found to be in violation of 9-40-160.
The Legal Rights of Bike Riders in Illinois
Drivers frequently act as though bike riders are a nuisance on the road. The law provides no support for this attitude, as bicyclists are afforded the same legal rights and duties under Illinois law as car drivers.
Illinois Bicycle Safety Laws
Illinois has a series of laws under its Code that provide safety regulations for bike riders. Bicyclists should make sure that they fully understand what is expected of them under Illinois laws. Illinois bicyclist safety laws require:
- All bicyclists obey traffic laws or face a $50-$200 fine
- Drivers must yield to cyclists turning right or left
- Drivers must leave at least 3 feet of clearance when passing cyclists
- Bicyclists are prohibited from riding on sidewalks in certain parts of Chicago or may face a $50 fine
- Bicyclists must ride at a safe speed
- Cyclists have a legal obligation to signal to others on the road unless an exception applies
- Cyclists must ride in a single file line
- Cyclists must use front white headlights and red reflectors/lights at nighttime
- Cyclists may not talk on the phone or text while bicycling, otherwise they may face a $20 to $500 fine
- Drivers may now open car doors into ongoing traffic, unless it is reasonably safe to do so for the unloading of passengers
- All bicycles must be registered with the Chicago Police Department
Taking Caution When Riding on the Road
Bike riders should use caution when riding on the streets of Chicago. Unfortunately, many car drivers are not aware of Illinois bike safety laws. They may be unaware of the dangers of “dooring accidents” and the provisions that disallow opening doors in the streets of Chicago.
Asserting a Legal Claim for Compensation
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, you may have a legal claim for compensation. You can talk with Illinois bicycle accident attorneys to learn more about bicycle safety laws and how they may apply in your case. If a driver has failed to uphold his or her duty to drive safely on the roads and has caused a bike accident, you may be entitled to compensation.