Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Distracted Bicycling" Ordinance Proposed

Chicago Alderman Margaret Laurino of the 39th Ward, Chairman of the Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety of the Chicago City Council, has proposed an ordinance that would extend the Illinois distracted driving law to bicyclists. Under the proposed ordinance, bicyclists would be banned from using communication devices (namely cell phones, PDAs, mobile computers, etc.) for talking, emailing, texting, etc. except for in the case of hands free cell phone usage. The current ordinance only specifically addresses motorists.

Bicyclists caught the first time would be fined $50 and if they cause an accident they would be fined up to $500. is reporting that the proposal would have to go through committee before the full City Council would even vote on the issue. It is unlikely this would happen until later in the fall. Hearings, as of last week, have not been scheduled.

Ron Burke of the Active Transportation Alliance in Chicago, does not take issue with the distracted biking law but rather that the extension to bicyclists may distract law enforcement from improving on enforcement of the distracted driving law. "There's relatively little enforcement of the hands free cell phone requirement. That doesn't mean it's a bad idea to have it on the books. I think it still helps, but clearly enforcement would be better," Burke said.

Attorney Mike Keating of Keating Law Offices stated, "A fundamental point of the Illinois Rules of the Road is that bicyclists and motorists should share the road. In this case, we should also share the responsibility of using the roadways without distractions from cellphones and other electronic devices. This proposed ordinance is a logical extension and a fair one."

If you have any questions regarding this post or an issue involving Illinois personal injury law, please contact Illinois Bicycle Attorney Mike Keating at 312-208-7702 or 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All e-mails and phone calls are returned promptly. All initial consultations are confidential and free. This post was written with the assistance of Joel Barker, a recent graduate of DePaul University's College of Law.