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What Are Illinois Rules for Drivers Sharing the Road with Bicycles?

Posted on in Bicycle Accidents

Waukegan Bike Accident Attorney

Motorists and bicycle riders together share the responsibility for keeping Illinois roadways safe for all and preventing bike accidents. This is especially true in Lake County, which contains more than 59 miles of bikeways and trails maintained by the Lake County Division of Transportation, over 45 miles of the Grand Illinois Trail, and over 25 miles of US Bike Route 37. Here are four safety points that everyone should keep in mind this summer: (1) Visibility, (2) Awareness, (3) Right of way, and (4) the Dutch Reach.

1. Visibility

Early mornings and late evenings are popular times for bike riding. Just remember that dim light, fog, and mist can make it harder for cars to see the small profile of a bike rider, especially on hilly or curvy roads where there is little or no paved shoulder. If you like to ride your bike at night or at times of low visibility, make sure your bike is equipped per Illinois law. Bicycles must have a white reflector or lamp on the front that is visible at least 500 feet away and a red reflector or lamp on the rear that is visible in a car’s headlights at distances between 100 feet and 600 feet. New bicycles are also required to have reflectors on the pedals and on the sides of the bike frame or tires.

2. Awareness

Distracted driving is an obvious danger to cyclists. Illinois law specifically directs drivers to “exercise due care to avoid colliding with ... any person operating a bicycle or other device propelled by human power.” Drivers are to sound their horn when necessary and “exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused, incapacitated or intoxicated person” (625 ILCS 5/11-1003.1).

3. Right of Way.

Bicycle riders generally have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists and must generally follow the same traffic rules as motorists. For example, bike riders must indicate turns via hand signals. If a bike rider is injured in an accident, they could be judged partly at fault if they fail to follow the rules of the road.

At intersections and when passing on straightaways, car and truck drivers are required to yield the right of way to a bicyclist just as you would to other vehicles.

It is against the law in Illinois for a motorist to pass “unnecessarily close” to a bicyclist (625 ILCS 5/11-703). If you violate this law and cause a cyclist to crash, you could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor or, if the cyclist suffers great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement, you could be charged with a Class 3 felony. If criminal charges are filed, you are likely to be found negligent and liable for monetary damages in a personal injury lawsuit.

Bicycles traveling slower than the flow of motorized traffic are instructed by law to ride “as close as practicable and safe to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway” in most situations (625 ILCS 5/11-1505).

Many cities, including Chicago, have designated bike lanes on their streets. Motorists are never to drive, park, idle, or pick up passengers in bike lanes, even if bikes are not present at the moment.

4. The Dutch Reach

Illinois law states that “No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so” (625 ILCS 5/11-1407). A motorist who “doors” a bike rider could be held liable for injuries caused to the cyclist. Safety experts recommend that you use the Dutch Reach method when opening your car door, grasping the door with your near hand to prevent it from flying open and reaching across your body with your far hand to operate the latch. This maneuver causes you to naturally turn your body toward the door and become aware of an approaching cyclist before opening the door.

A Waukegan Bike Accident Lawyer for Your Protection

Failure to follow these safety tips can lead to car vs. bike accidents that can, in turn, result in severe, even permanent, injuries to the cyclist. If you have been in a bike accident,  before accepting a settlement from the auto driver’s insurance company, consult with an experienced Lake County pedestrian accident attorney to ensure that you receive all due compensation. Call the Waukegan office of Salvi & Maher, L.L.C. at 847-662-3303.






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