More and more people are getting out on their bikes these days in an effort to save the environment and to save money, and the City of Chicago supports the increase in bicyclists. Along with this increase comes a greater need for safety awareness and precautions, for all those on the road.
The City of Chicago’s Bike 2015 Plan supports increasing bike usage and reducing bike-related injuries. One way the City plans to reduce such injuries is by improving its bike-law enforcement.
Surprisingly, many riders don’t know that they are held to the same standards as motor vehicle drivers. Although there are some laws that are obviously directed at bicyclists only (think wearing a headlamp at night or no adult riding on sidewalks), overall Chicago and Illinois laws require that cyclists abide by the same Rules of the Road as motor vehicle drivers. The law provides the same rights to cyclists as to those driving motor vehicles but the laws also hold cyclists to the same responsibility standards.
Actual enforcement of the bike laws on bicyclists has been pretty lax to date. Fairly recently, the City has conducted a campaign in which participants stop bicyclists to educate on them on the law and safety, not to give out tickets. This grace period may soon come to a close, though.
This has some bikers confused, some upset. But, the City is not out to punish the bicyclists; rather the goal is to change habits and to warn about dangerous behavior in an effort to improve overall safety and prevent serious accidents.
Bikers might argue that the better way to improve safety would be cracking down on bad drivers, as bikes are clearly no competition for a vehicle in a collision. This year alone, 4 Chicago cyclists have died in bike-car collisions. However, bicyclists and motor vehicle operators need to respect one another to ensure bike and motor safety as a whole. Without bicyclists being safe and following rules, even the safest, most prudent of motor vehicle drivers would find it hard if not impossible to avoid a dangerous collision.
If you are unfamiliar with the Rules of the Road, you should familiarize yourself before you take your next ride. You should take all measure necessary to help to ensure that you have a safe, injury-free ride every time you get out on the roads.