Vehicles vs. Bike Riders
Who among us hasn’t had to slam the brakes as a bicycle rider came out of nowhere and cut you off on a busy city street? On the flip side, bike riders need to know what protections they have from vehicles? Who is right in various situations? That is what we set out to find — who has the right of way, where, and why?
As a licensed motor vehicle operator, drivers have more responsibilities than bike riders. While new rules are being created to monitor bikes, they generally have the right of way. Here are a few ways that drivers must take responsibility on the roads:
First, bicycles have the right of way at the intersection. According to the Chicago municipal code (MC) 9-16-020 (e) and (f), when a car and a bike are heading in the same direction, a car may not turn right in front of the biker. And, the car or truck must not be a threat to the bike rider and give appropriate space when turning right.
Similarly, at an intersection, drivers must give oncoming bikers the right of way before turning.
Second, drivers are required to give bikes space to ride. The Illinois Bicycle Rules of the Road states “motorists are required to allow at least 3 feet of space between them and a bicyclist when passing.”
Third, drivers must allow bicycle riders to remain in front of them on narrow streets. The Chicago Complete Street Tips for Motorists states that bikers have the right to go in front of cars when there are no bike lanes or the lanes are narrow. Bicycle riders can also use left hand lanes when they signal to drivers.
Bicycle Rider Rules
Just because motorists must give way to bicycle riders, it does not mean that bikers can avoid traffic rules. Here are a few ways that bike riders must take responsibility:
First, bikers are restricted in what they can carry when riding and using electronic equipment. Chicago MC 9-52-060 requires bikers to have at least one hand free at all times to ride a bike. No packages or articles that they carry may be so large that they require both hands to hold. Similarly, Chicago MC 9-52-110 states bikers are not allow to operate electronic equipment while riding, unless they use hands-free devices. This is to ensure that riders have at least one hand on the handlebars at all times and pay attention to what is happening on the road. Riders can be fined if they violate these rules because they endangers others, as well as the bicyclist.
Second, all bikes are required to register. The city of Chicago MC 9-120-030 requires all bikes to be registered with the city. All pertinent information about the bicycle and the rider must be included. This is done to track riders who might not follow the law and for security. If the serial number is removed or other identifying properties from the bike are altered, the rider may face a fine or even the loss of the bike.
Third, safety first. All bicycle riders must wear approved safety apparel while riding and obeying all traffic laws and signals. According to the Illinois Bicycle Rules of The Road, “When riding your bicycle on Illinois roadways, you must obey the same traffic laws, signs and signals that apply to motorists.”
That means bike riders need to ride in the same direction as traffic. While many bikers claim that riding against traffic is better to avoid an accident, it is against the law to do so. Bikers who violate safety regulations can face a penalty of $150 for each offense.
Fourth, bike riders need to travel in single file. According to Illinois State Law, Sec. 11-1505.1, bike riders may not ride side-by-side, except for specified bike paths designed for this purpose. While bikers may pass other bike riders, they need to give appropriate space to do so, and should only be in the side-by-side for the briefest period of time possible.
As the cost of operating vehicles and parking get more expensive, it is no surprise that bicycle ownership has increased by 150% among Chicago area residents. Bikes have become a practical mode of transportation to work and a valuable way to exercise.
However, the City reports that 9.8% of all crashes involve bikes. And, this has occurred while the number of separate bike lanes has significantly increased.
Simply stated, as our City’s traffic diversifies, both bikers and drivers have to watch the road more carefully to maintain a safe traffic environment. Unfortunately, even when rules are followed, accidents still happen.
Injuries to cyclists can be extreme and life-changing. As an experienced personal injury attorney, I feel it is my responsibility to protect bicycle riders from the negligent actions of drivers. If you or a loved one is injured in a cycling accident, please call my office or email.
The key to our success is the time we take to get to know our clients as individuals. We establish a personal relationship to understand every detail of their case and the impact it has had on their family.
The attorneys at Friend, Levinson & Turner Law make the legal process as stress-free as possible. We focus on recovering compensation for you – while you concentrate on your physical and emotional recovery.
If you or a loved one is a victim of the negligence of others, please call my office at 312-346-8465 or contact us using the form below.