10 Rules To Keep Cyclists Safe in Chicago
Bicycle accidents happen much too frequently. A bicyclist could be hit by a moving vehicle or injured in a “dooring” accident.
For whatever reason, it seems like motorized vehicles just ignore, or forget, that bicycles deserve the same respect as vehicles when sharing the road. To put it very plainly, the rules that apply to driving a motor vehicle also apply to riding a bicycle.
- Go with the flow. Bicycles must travel in the same direction as the flow of traffic.
- Right-of-way laws apply. Bicycles share the same right-of-way laws to which vehicles must adhere. That being said, here is a refresher:
- Unmarked intersections: When there is no signage at an intersection or crosswalk, the vehicle/bicycle to the right has the right of way. The vehicle/bicycle on the left must yield.
- 2-way intersections: Vehicles/bicycles must yield the right-of-way to those on the cross street before going ahead.
- 4-way intersections: The first vehicle/bicycle to the intersection is the first to go.
- STOP for school busses. When approaching a school bus that is coming to a stop, a bicyclist must come to a complete stop while the bus STOP arm is out and its stoplights are flashing. Once the STOP arm is retracted, a bicyclist may continue on its way.
- Emergency vehicles ALWAYS have the right-of-way. Drivers and bicyclists alike are required by law, when necessary, to pull over to the side of the road and stop until the emergency vehicle has passed.
- Parking. A bicycle may park wherever parking is permitted, be it on the curb of a street or on a sidewalk. Just please be mindful to park so that traffic and/or pedestrians can still get by.
- Lock up bicycles. Locking up a bicycle prevents theft. Locking a bike to a permanent structure will decrease the chances of a theft occurring. Good examples of structures to which you can lock a bicycle include fences, bike racks and large trees. Reliable bicycle locks are recommended and include U-locks or padlocks with chains or thick cables. Lock the whole bike. For example, run a cable through both the front and rear tires, as well as through the bicycle frame. This prevents pieces of the bicycle from being stolen.
- Obey directions from police officers. Police officers may give directions that are contrary to the right-of-way laws. Police direction is supreme to right-of-way laws.
- Yield to pedestrians and the disabled. Pedestrians have the right-of-way. If riding on a sidewalk, pedestrians have the right-of-way, and if there are many people around, walk instead of riding through the crowd. Drivers and bicyclists must give the right-of-way to disabled persons.
- Wear a helmet. Although not required by Illinois law, it is a good idea to always wear a helmet while riding a bicycle. Out of the about 1,000 bicycle related deaths in the U.S. each year, three fourths of those deaths are due to head injuries.
- Stay away from parked cars. Try to stay four feet from parked cars in order to avoid “dooring” accidents. Often times people inside parked vehicles will open a door without looking back to check for bicyclists. If there is enough room to avoid the open car door, bicyclists should try to do so. However, if there is no room, or if it would be unsafe to be four feet from parked cars, remain aware of the parked cars ahead and slow down so braking in an instant to avoid a suddenly open door will be easier to do.