Thursday, September 21, 2017

Bicyclist Killed In Crash With Van In Belvidere, Illinois

An Illinois bicyclist was killed Tuesday evening as a result of severe injuries sustained in a crash with a Dodge Ram van in Belvidere, Illinois. According to reports, 53-year old James Day of Belvidere suffered blunt trauma to the chest as the result of a bicycle accident at 6:40 p.m. in the evening on Squaw Prairie Road. Mr. Day was pronounced dead at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center after he was transported from the scene of the crash via ambulance. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Day's family and all those affected by this tragedy. 

The bicycle crash occurred approximately a half mile west of Poplar Grove Road on Squaw Prairie. Belvidere, Illinois is in Winnebago County just east of Rockford. The location of the crash is near Belvidere North High School and north of Belvidere's town center. 

The 3-Foot Rule Is An Illinois Bike Law Designed To Protect Bicyclists

Both the bicyclist and the driver of the van were proceeding westbound on Poplar Grove Road at the time of the crash. While no other details were provided, it is worth noting that Illinois law requires the operators of motor vehicles to provide at least 3-feet when passing a bicyclist while travelling in the same direction. The "three foot rule" is provided by Section 11-703 of the Illinois Vehicle Code. 
Overtaking a vehicle on the left. The following rules govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction, subject to those limitations, exceptions, and special rules otherwise stated in this Chapter: (d) The operator of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle or individual proceeding in the same direction on a highway shall leave a safe distance, but not less than 3 feet, when passing the bicycle or individual and shall maintain that distance until safely past the overtaken bicycle or individual.

New Illinois Bike Laws Designed To Provided Additional Legal Protection To Bicyclists

In addition, a new law that will go into effect in 2018 is designed to provide additional protections to bicyclists that may face passing vehicles. Illinois Public Act 100-0359 which was signed into law last month gives bicyclists added protection in No Passing Zones and allows bicyclists to legally ride on the shoulder. 

The new bike law 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. 

The new law also provides 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.