Bicycle Accidents, Safety, and Rules of the Road

Written by James P. Nally on . Posted in Uncategorized

Bicycles as a means of transportation are exploding in popularity. Within the last few years people have bought into the idea that they are a great way to get some exercise and leave a smaller carbon footprint. The city of Chicago in particular has been very aggressive in establishing dedicated bicycle routes. Invariably, the increased use of bicycles will also result in an increase in bicycle accidents: bicycle car collisions, bicycle pedestrian accidents, and bicycle injuries as a result of road conditions.

State law provides that bicycles are treated the same as other vehicles, and bicycles have their own section in the Illinois Vehicle Code which states “Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle.”

Bicyclists operating on public roadways must ride as close as possible to the right-hand curb. On one-way streets bicycles may travel on the left-hand curb side. Turns and stops must be signaled just like in a motor vehicle, by hand or mechanical signal. On a public roadway bikers cannot ride more than 2 abreast and shall not impede the normal flow of traffic. Bicycles operating at night must have a lamp emitting a white light on the front and a red reflector or light on the rear of the bicycle. A police officer on reasonable cause who believes a bicycle is unsafe may require the person riding the bicycle to stop and submit to an inspection.

Special rules apply to bicycles in dedicated bicycle lanes. The city of Chicago has established a number of dedicated bicycle lanes, including in the downtown area. These bicycle lanes are subject of their own traffic signals in many cases. Bikers must obey all traffic signals and in particular obey the bicycle traffic signals. Because these bike lanes are new the chance of pedestrians stepping out into bicycle traffic increases, along with the chance of pedestrian- bike collisions. Because bicycles and cars share the same streets, bike- car accidents occur. Bikers can also be injured by potholes or other obstructions in the roadway. Under Illinois law, intended and permitted users of a roadway may have a claim against the municipality for failure to maintain a road. However bikers on roadways not designated as bicycle routes may not be able to make claims for injuries due to road conditions.

Undoubtedly the burgeoning popularity of bicycles will result in more bike accidents. If you are injured while riding your bike, or as a pedestrian struck by a bike, our law firm is available to give you advice on your legal rights.