Tuesday, January 2, 2018

New Illinois Laws to Protect Bicyclists Go Into Effect In 2018

The New Bicycle Laws

Three new bicycle laws that were signed into law as Illinois Public Act 100-0359 went in to effect on January 1, 2018. This new legislation advances the rights of bicyclists and the role of bicycles in a modern transportation scheme in Illinois. This was a particularly impressive result by statewide bicycle advocacy group Ride Illinois.  The new law makes changes in Illinois bicycle laws within the Illinois Vehicle Code

Provides Bicyclists Enhanced Safety In No Passing Zones

The new law Amends Section 11-703 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, "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 under state law) in a no passing zone. This statutory change mitigates against 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. 

Allows 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 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, "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 

The prior version of Section 11-1507 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, "Lights And Other Equipment On Bicycles," stated that a rear red reflector was required by bicyclists in all situations. Under the prior law, a rear red light could only be used in addition to the rear reflector. Under this illogical construction, a red light on its own, no matter how bright, was technically not sufficient but a lone red reflector could be allowed. This obviously made no sense practically. Illinois bicyclists now 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. 

The work by Ride Illinois in successfully advocating for all Illinois bicyclists should be applauded by every bicyclist in the state. 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.