The pedestrian-friendly layout of Chicago was built with cyclists in mind and often allows cyclists to get around even easier than commuters on foot.
If you are someone who prefers an active lifestyle to sitting around, would rather feel the wind in your hair than control the climate, or just favors pushing pedals to waiting in traffic, cycling through Chicago might be just the thing for you. Chicago offers a great deal of bicycle paths, lanes, and trails that span the majority of the city. The intricate chain of bike lanes wound throughout Chicago streets allow cyclists to commute through traffic in a relatively safe way.
However, there are risks involved with bicycling through the city. You are traveling at a rate of speed comparable to most vehicles but with only the protection of most pedestrians. This means that mistakes on a bicycle are often more severe than those involving pedestrians (which usually happen at a lower rate of speed) or cars (which are equipped with seatbelts, airbags, roofs, and windshields). For those of you who embrace the risks and thrills of seeing Chicago by cycle, here are some ideas to keep in mind.
Illinois Traffic Laws Apply to All
Whether you travel our fair city by bike or car, the traffic rules are designed to apply to and protect everyone. This means that as a cyclist you must obey all traffic signals, warnings, and signs. You are safest and least likely to have a collision when you do so and you are breaking the law if you do not. This is particularly important to remember at intersections. Intersections are the most dangerous places for both cars and cyclists; the majority of collisions happen at these crossing areas. There are so many moving parts that go into a traffic intersection that cyclists are truly at a much higher risk when using them.
It’s Important to Know the Laws
While traffic laws apply equally to cars and cycles, there are some laws that are unique to those who commute via bike. For example, no person over the age of 12 years old is allowed to ride a bicycle on a Chicago sidewalk unless that route is specifically marked as a bicycle route. There are also laws that pertain specifically to the equipment required for cyclists. Illinois law mandates that all bicycles used after dark must have a white light on the front that should be visible from a distance of 500 feet. On the back of all bikes in use after dark must be a red reflector or a red light. That light needs to be visible from at least 600 feet.
Visibility is Key
The importance of proper attire cannot be overemphasized. Bright and reflective clothing is one of your best defenses against a collision with a car. If a driver cannot see you, they also may not be able to avoid running into you. If you are driving at night you may want to invest in a wearable flashing light, as there may not be enough light to shine off of your reflective clothing. This will not only help you avoid a collision with a driver but may also help prevent a parked driver from hitting you with their car door. It is quite common in Chicago for cyclists in bike lanes, which are right next to parked cars, to collide with a driver’s door as the driver attempts to exit their car. Bright clothing can help you avoid this.
Our team at Willens Law Offices hopes that all of our Chicago cyclists arrive safely at their destination. However, if you have been involved in a bicycle accident, contact the attorneys at our firm today at (312) 957-4166.