Thursday, August 31, 2017

New Illinois Bicycle Laws Further Help Protect Bicyclists

Illinois Public Act 100-0359

On August 25, 2017, House Bill 1784 was signed into law as Illinois Public Act 100-0359. This new legislation, which was successfully advocated by Ride Illinois, further advances the rights of bicyclists and the role of bicycles in a modern transportation scheme in Illinois. This was a particularly impressive result by Ride Illinois in that the bill received a unanimous "Yes" vote from every voting member of the House and Senate and was signed into law by the Governor. The new law makes the several changes in Illinois bicycle laws within the Illinois Vehicle Code

Providing Bicyclists Enhanced Safety In No Passing Zones

Amends Section 11-703, "Overtaking A Vehicle On The Left," to allow for a motor vehicle to pass a bicycle in a "no passing" zone as long as three conditions are met. First, the bicyclist is going less than half of the posted speed limit. Second, the motor vehicle does not have to speed in order to pass the bicyclists. Third, that the motor vehicles adheres to Illinois' "3-Foot Rule" and gives the bicyclist at least three feet when passing. 

Prior to this change a motorist could face a traffic ticket for passing a bicycle (a vehicle) in a no passing zone. This change alleviates the risk of a driver claiming that the bicycle was causing a "back up" because faster moving motor vehicles could not legally go around the bicyclist. 

Allowing Bicyclists To Legally Ride On The Shoulder 

The new changes also provide that a bicycle may drive on the shoulder. According to the prior version of Section 11-709.1, "Driving On the Shoulder," only emergency vehicles, authorized transit buses, some farm equipment, and service vehicles could legally ride on the shoulder. This change clarifies that bicycles can do what may be the most safe thing in some situations which is to ride on the shoulder as opposed to directly on the roadway.

Clarifies That Rear Red Lights May Be Used Instead Of Reflector 

There was what was probably an unintentional error in the prior version of Section 11-1507, "Lights And Other Equipment On Bicycles," that a rear red reflector was required in all situations. Under the prior law, a rear red light could only be used in addition to the rear reflector. A red light on its own, no matter how bright, was technically not sufficient but a lone red reflector could be. This obviously made no sense practically. Going forward, Illinois bicyclists will be able to "ride legal" with a rear red light without having to also have a reflector. It is the experience of most bicyclists that a rear red light, especially modern LED lights, makes the rider much more visible than just a reflector. 

It is important that we recognize our elected officials in the House and Senate who chose to act as sponsors for this legislation. 

House Sponsors: Rep. Tim ButlerAnna MoellerThomas MorrisonFrances Ann Hurley and Dave Severin

Senate Sponsors: Sen. Heather A. Steans - Ira I. SilversteinDale FowlerJim Oberweis and Cristina Castro

The "heavy lifting" of Ride Illinois in successfully advocating for all Illinois bicyclists cannot be overstated. This legislation is an important part of continually advancing the rights of Illinois bicyclists and advocating for safe bicycling in Illinois. These changes will increase the safety for Illinois bicyclists and reduce the risk of injuries and deaths from bicycle accidents and crashes. Please click here for more information on Ride Illinois and supporting the organization's important legislative and advocacy efforts. 

Bicycle Law Attorney Michael S. Keating

Attorney Mike Keating has extensive legislative experience and a history of fighting for the rights of bicyclists in Illinois. In 2016, he helped draft "Dennis' Law," the landmark legislation that clarified Illinois law to mandate that bicyclists receive the same rights to the "right-of-way" as drivers of motor vehicles and that bicycles were "vehicles." Mike Keating is one of the Chairs of the Legislative Committee for the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association where he reviews all legislation that might affect the rights of those injured in a bicycle crash. In addition, he is the Chair of the Bicycle Litigation Group for the American Association for Justice, the nation's largest trial lawyers organization. Mike previously served as the Assistant Counsel to the Illinois House of Representatives. 

Keating Law Offices

Keating Law Offices is the premiere personal injury law firm representing victims of bicycle accidents in Illinois. The firm is based in Chicago, Illinois and represents clients throughout Illinois. Keating Law Offices has recovered millions of dollars on behalf of hundreds of Illinois bicyclists who were injured through no fault of their own while bicycling. The firm is nationally recognized as leaders in bicycle litigation.