Friday, September 18, 2009

Chicago Law Requires Motorists to Use "Due Care" Around Bicyclists

A frequent complaint of bicyclists in Chicago is that drivers of motor vehicles do not act like bicyclists have a right to be on the road, let alone treat bicyclists with respect. As discussed on this blog before, bicyclists in Illinois are permitted users of the roadway. This means bicyclists have every right to be on the road as a motorist does. What is interesting about Chicago is the Chicago Municipal Code explicitly states that drivers must use "due care" to avoid colliding with a bicyclist. Section 9-40-160 of the Municipal Code states as follows:

"Every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian, or any person operating a bicycle or other device propelled by human or animal power, upon any roadway, and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary and shall exercise proper precautions upon observing any child or any confused or incapacitated person upon a roadway." Amended Coun. J. 3-12-08, p. 22781, § 1

Under the law, "due care" means the "care that an ordinarily reasonable and prudent person would use under the same or similar circumstances." In other words, cutting off bicyclists, making left-hand turns in front of bicyclists, tailgating bicyclists, etc. are actions really far from "due care." Motorists not only should give bicyclists respect, but they are required to give respect as it is what the legal notion of "due care" requires.