Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Bicycle Isn't a "Vehicle" in Illinois? Why IL Needs to Update Its Laws.

Despite the fact that the Illinois Motor Vehicle Code has a specific section for bicycles, Illinois law ironically does not generally classify a bicycle as a vehicle. Illinois law defines a vehicle as any device used to transport people on upon a highway, but it also specifically excludes any device “moved by human power" and as a result bicycles are not included in the definition of "vehicle."

Illinois courts have consistently and strictly enforced this definition, which has denied cyclists true equality with other vehicles. The definition not only directly impacts bicyclists legal rights to freely use the roads but can could affect their ability to obtain compensation through the court system in the unfortunate event of a collision.

Two cases stand out. First, in Boub v. Township of Wayne the Illinois Supreme Court held that because a bicycle was not a vehicle, cyclists are not the intended users of the road and therefore they have no right to compensation for injuries caused by poor road conditions. Second, in Standard Mutual Ins. Co. v. Rogers the court held that because a bike is not a vehicle, a cyclist is not necessarily covered by his insurance if the rider is involved in a collision.

These cases are inconsistent with the many progressive changes made to the laws in Illinois and many municipalities, especially Chicago, in the last few years. As such, there is a strong legal argument that these cases are outdated and distinguishable from the current laws for bicyclists.

The attorneys at Keating Law Offices are spearheading efforts in Illinois to change these laws to more accurately reflect the role bicycling has in modern society.

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 MKeating@KeatingLegal.com 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 Simon Baker, a third year law student at DePaul University's College of Law. Mr. Baker is the Editor of Articles, Notes and Comments for the DePaul Law Review.