Monday, March 23, 2020

Can I Ride My Bike? The Role of Bicycling Under Governor JB Pritzker's "Stay In Place" Order

Governor Pritzker's Executive Order also known as the "Stay In Place Order"
On March 20, 2020 Illinois Governor JB Pritzker issued an "Executive Order In Response to COVID-19." What has been commonly referred to as the "Stay In Place Order" also details requirements for social distancing and outlines when certain activities are permissible. Governor Pritzker's power to take this extreme action stems from the powers vested in him as Governor of the State of Illinois under the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act. This Act allows Governor Pritzker to issue a "Gubernatorial Disaster Proclamation" and take immediate action without any laws being first passed by the Illinois Senate and the House of Representatives as is typically required with a change in the law. 

An Executive Order under these circumstances is unusual in that disaster proclamations are most often scene in the wake of natural disasters like tornadoes and floods. However, given the scope of the coronavirus outbreak and its viral nature, Governor Pritzker was within his authority to take direct and immediate action. The Executive Order effectively controls the laws surrounding bicycling in Illinois during the pendency of the order. The order is currently in effect until Tuesday, April 7, 2020. 

Non-Exempt Travel By Bicycle Is Prohibited

The Order prohibits all travel, including travel by bicycle, as a part of the general order for Illinois residents to remain at home. However,  there are exemptions within the order. The exceptions are under "Essential Activities," "Essential Government Functions" and "Essential Businesses and Operations." In any event, the order also stresses that Illinois residents are to practice "social distancing" and to stay six feet from one another in the event they are permitted to leave their home. The exemptions related to bicycles are detailed below. 

Bicycling To Obtain Necessary Goods Permitted

It is important to remember that Illinois residents may still travel to get necessary supplies or food for themselves, family members, or other members of their household. This even includes supplies needed to work from home or any items needed around the house for safety or cleaning. Grocery stores and hardware stores are allowed to remain open. 

Bicycling for "Outdoor Activity" Permitted 
as an "Essential Activity"

Presumably as a part of efforts to keep people in their homes as much as possible, while the order does specifically exclude bicycling as a part of unnecessary travel, the order does permit bicycling "for outdoor activity." It appears that the order is making a distinction between a resident leaving their home to travel by bicycle when no exemption exists for them and riding a bicycle as a part of time spent outdoors. However, if one chooses to use a bicycle to get outside and get some fresh air. That is acceptable and after being cooped up inside your home - probably good for your mental as well as physical health. 

Bicycle Shops Deemed an 
"Essential Business and Operation"

Bicycle shops and "related facilities" are deemed an "Essential Business and Operation" under the order. The order does not detail what is a "related facility" to a bicycle shop, but a plain language reading of the order would suggest that it is any facility engaged in work to sell, service and repair bicycles. What is interesting about the language of the order is it appears that the words "bicycle shops and related facilities" were tacked onto the part of the order that is otherwise related to gas stations and automobile supply and repair locations. The inclusion of bicycle shops is no doubt the result of the typically excellent advocacy work by the Active Transportation Alliance which coordinated a campaign to allow bicycle shops to remain open as a part of "essential services." 

Use Good Judgment 

The purpose of this order is that while this is an extreme steps, taking this action now will prevent the coronavirus from spreading further. If the spread of the virus can be limited, this will allow our health care providers to provide the best possible care for those who have been inflicted with COVID-19. If you do have to leave your home for permitted travel, be sure to follow the requirements for social distancing as well as taking steps necessary to reduce the spread of germs. Remember, we are all in this together and a series of decisions, both big and small, will have an impact in how much this continues to effect our lives. 

Keating Law Office Remains In Operation

Keating Law Offfices, as a provider of professional legal services, is deemed an "essential operation" and remains open. The firm's staff is currently working and are available for phone calls, video chat, e-mail or other communication if necessary. Simply call the firm at 833-CALL-KLO (833-225-5556) or email This page is enabled with online chat that allows you to engage with a live operator. Please know that we are here to help, contact us anytime.