Bike Laws

Do you know your rights on the road?
Laws at the local and state levels protect you, whether you are traveling by bike or by foot. Below are some laws you might want to be aware of both as a cyclist and a motorist. Hey, let’s be safe out there and Share the Road.

Upcoming Legislation
“Dead Red” Stoplight Law & Engineering Solutions
LIB (League of Illinois Bicyclists) Newsletter, Summer 2011
You are biking on a relatively quiet road and you reach a stoplight at a busy road. You are not able to trigger the stoplight for a green and the pedestrian push button (if any) is 20 feet off the road. If a car does happen to come up behind you, the overly timid motorist stops too far back of you to trigger the light. You sit there waiting, and waiting…

Most bicyclists (and motorcyclists) are familiar with this scenario. A new law is expected to be signed by Gov. Pat Quinn later this summer that would allow both groups to treat red lights as stop signs, if the signal fails to detect them and change to green “within a reasonable period of time.”

The new law was proposed by motorcyclists but bicyclists were added later, thanks to the efforts of the Active Transportation Alliance. Due to a legislative compromise, Chicago would be exempt from the new law.

The bill was approved by the state legislature in May and now awaits Gov. Quinn to sign it into law.

LIB welcomes the legislative change as a way to address this issue – an unintended consequence of demand-actuated stoplights. However, having detection systems that sense bicycles and motorcycles is a better and safer solution so cyclists do not have to go through red lights.

There are already nationally-accepted pavement markings indicating where to position one’s bike over the “sweet spot” of the existing detector loop, as well as better detection systems that can be used for new and reconstructed stoplights.

LIB has recently raised this issue at meetings with Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon and policy advisors from IDOT and the Governor’s office, suggesting that the bill’s signing is a great time to add the engineering solutions to the state’s design manuals.

For now, here is a trick to try when riding. If your bike is not triggering the traffic signal sensor, change the location of your bike in the lane. If you can see the rectangular loop detector in the pavement (before the stop line), stop over the right edge of the rectangle and lean your bike to the left. The metal in your pedal and crank will have a better chance of triggering the (magnetic) sensor, even if you have a carbon frame. Another trick that motorcyclists use is to install a small neodymium magnet on your bike.

For more information on triggering sensors and better detectors, you can view the first three minutes of the “Other Infrastructure” segment of our Introduction to Bicycle Planning seminar.

Changes in Illinois Law
On July 5, 2010, Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill into law making it illegal for automobile drivers to crowd bikers.

Under Public Act 96-1007, a person driving a motor vehicle shall not, in a reckless manner, drive the vehicle unnecessarily close to, toward, or near a bicyclist, pedestrian, or a person riding a horse or driving an animal drawn vehicle. The law makes it a Class A misdemeanor if the violation does not result in great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement. The violation is a Class 3 felony if it results in great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement to the victim. The law also requires a motorist to leave a safe distance, not less than three feet, when passing a bicyclist or individual.

Governor Quinn also signed legislation that will create a specialty license plate to educate the public about sharing the road with cyclists. 

Illinois Statutes Regarding Bicycles
Illinois Vehicle Code 625 ILCS 5/
"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 . . ." Section 11-1502

Sec. 11-1407. Opening and closing vehicle doors
No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonably safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of a vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers. (Source: P.A. 79-1069.) 625 ILCS 5/11 Rules of the Road—Bicycles

Sec. 1-106. Bicycle.
Every device propelled by human power upon which any person may ride, having two tandem wheels except scooters and similar devices.

Sec. 11-1501. Application of rules.
(a) It is unlawful for any person to do any act forbidden or fail to perform any act required in Article XV of Chapter 11 of this Code [625 ILCS 5/11-1501 et seq.]. 
(b) The parent of any child and the guardian of any ward shall not authorize or knowingly permit any such child or ward to violate any of the provisions of this Code.

Sec. 11-1502. Traffic laws apply to persons riding bicycles.
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 by this Code, except as to special regulations in this Article XV [625 ILCS 5/11-1501 et seq.] and except as to those provisions of this Code which by their nature can have no application.

Sec. 11-1503. Riding on bicycles.
(a) A person propelling a bicycle shall not ride other than upon or astride a permanent and regular seat attached thereto. 
(b) No bicycle shall be used to carry more persons at one time than the number for which it is designed and equipped, except that an adult rider may carry a child securely attached to his person in a back pack or sling.

Sec. 11-1504. Clinging to vehicles.
No person riding upon any bicycle, coaster, roller skates, sled or toy vehicle shall attach the same or himself to any vehicle upon a roadway.

Sec. 11-1505. Position of bicycles and motorized pedal cycles on roadways—Riding on roadways and bicycle paths.
(a) Any person operating a bicycle or motorized pedal cycle upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under the following situations: 1. When overtaking and passing another bicycle, motorized pedal cycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction; or 2. When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway; or 3. When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, motorized pedal cycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge. For purposes of this subsection, a "substandard width lane" means a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle or motorized pedal cycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane. 
(b) Any person operating a bicycle or motorized pedal cycle upon a one-way highway with two or more marked traffic lanes may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of such roadway as practicable.

Sec. 11-1505.
1. Don't ride more than 2 abreast; Stay in one lane
Persons riding bicycles or motorized pedal cycles upon a roadway shall not ride more than 2 abreast, except on paths or parts of roadways set aside for their exclusive use. Persons riding 2 abreast shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic and, on a laned roadway, shall ride within a single lane subject to the provisions of Section 11-1505 [625 ILCS 5/11-1505].

Sec. 11-1506. Carrying articles.
No person operating a bicycle shall carry any package, bundle or article which prevents the use of both hands in the control and operation of the bicycle. A person operating a bicycle shall keep at least one hand on the handlebars at all times.

Sec. 11-1507. Lamps and other equipment on bicycles.
(a) Every bicycle when in use at nighttime shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type approved by the Department which shall be visible from all distances from 100 feet to 600 feet to the rear when directly in front of lawful lower beams of headlamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector. 
(b) A bicycle shall not be equipped with nor shall any person use upon a bicycle any siren. 
(c) Every bicycle shall be equipped with a brake which will adequately control movement of and stop and hold such bicycle. 
(d) No person shall sell a new bicycle or pedal for use on a bicycle that is not equipped with a reflex reflector conforming to specifications prescribed by the Department, on each pedal, visible from the front and rear of the bicycle during darkness from a distance of 200 feet. 
(e) No person shall sell or offer for sale a new bicycle that is not equipped with side reflectors. Such reflectors shall be visible from each side of the bicycle from a distance of 500 feet and shall be essentially colorless or red to the rear of the center of the bicycle and essentially colorless or amber to the front of the center of the bicycle provided. The requirements of this paragraph may be met by reflective materials which shall be at least 3/16 of an inch wide on each side of each tire or rim to indicate as clearly as possible the continuous circular shape and size of the tires or rims of such bicycle and which reflective materials may be of the same color on both the front and rear tire or rim. Such reflectors shall conform to specifications prescribed by the Department. 
(f) No person shall sell or offer for sale a new bicycle that is not equipped with an essentially colorless front-facing reflector.

Sec. 11-1508. Bicycle identifying number.
A person engaged in the business of selling bicycles at retail shall not sell any bicycle unless the bicycle has an identifying number permanently stamped or cast on its frame.

Sec. 11-1509. Inspecting bicycles.
A uniformed police officer may at any time upon reasonable cause to believe that a bicycle is unsafe or not equipped as required by law, or that its equipment is not in proper adjustment or repair, require the person riding the bicycle to stop and submit the bicycle to an inspection and such test with reference thereto as may be appropriate.

Sec. 11-1510. Left turns.
(a) A person riding a bicycle or motorized pedalcycle intending to turn left shall follow a course described in Section 11-801 or in paragraph (b) of this Section. 
(b) A person riding a bicycle or motorized pedalcycle intending to turn left shall approach the turn as close as practicable to the right curb or edge of the roadway. After proceeding across the intersecting roadway to the far corner of the curb or intersection of the roadway edges, the bicyclist or motorized pedalcycle driver shall stop, as much as practicable out of the way of traffic. After stopping the person shall yield to any traffic proceeding in either direction along the roadway such person had been using. After yielding, the bicycle or motorized pedalcycle driver shall comply with any official traffic control device or police officer regulating traffic on the highway along which he intends to proceed, and the bicyclist or motorized pedalcycle driver may proceed in the new direction. 
(c) Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions, the Department and local authorities in their respective jurisdictions may cause official traffic-control devices to be placed and thereby require and direct that a specific course be traveled by turning bicycles and motorized pedalcycles, and when such devices are so placed, no person shall turn a bicycle or motorized pedalcycle other than as directed and required by such devices.

Sec. 11-1511. Turn and stop signals.
(a) Except as provided in this Section, a person riding a bicycle shall comply with Section 11-804 [625 ILCS 5/11-804]. 
(b) A signal of intention to turn right or left when required shall be given during not less than the last 100 feet traveled by the bicycle before turning, and shall be given while the bicycle is stopped waiting to turn. A signal by hand and arm need not be given continuously if the hand is needed in the control or operation of the bicycle.

Sec. 11-1512. Bicycles on sidewalks.
(a) A person propelling a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, shall yield the right of way to any pedestrian and shall give audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian. 
(b) A person shall not ride a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, where such use of bicycles is prohibited by official traffic-control devices. (c) A person propelling a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, shall have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.

Sec. 11-1513. Bicycle parking.
(a) A person may park a bicycle on a sidewalk unless prohibited or restricted by an official traffic-control device. 
(b) A bicycle parked on a sidewalk shall not impede the normal and reasonable movement of pedestrian or other traffic. 
(c) A bicycle may be parked on the roadway at any angle to the curb or edge of the roadway at any location where parking is allowed. 
(d) A bicycle may be parked on the roadway abreast of another bicycle or bicycles near the side of the roadway at any location where parking is allowed. 
(e) A person shall not park a bicycle on a roadway in such a manner as to obstruct the movement of a legally parked motor vehicle. 
(f) In all other respects, bicycles parked anywhere on a highway shall conform with the provisions of this Code regulating the parking of vehicles.

Sec. 11-1514. Bicycle racing.
(a) Bicycle racing on a highway shall not be unlawful when a racing event has been approved by State or local authorities on any highway under their respective jurisdictions. Approval of bicycle highway racing events shall be granted only under conditions which assure reasonable safety for all race participants, spectators and other highways users, and which prevent unreasonable interference with traffic flow which would seriously inconvenience other highway users. 
(b) By agreement with the approving authority, participants in an approved bicycle highway racing event may be exempted from compliance with any traffic laws otherwise applicable thereto, provided that traffic control is adequate to assure the safety of all highway users.

Sec. 11-1515. Commercial Messengers.
No person, firm, or corporation shall operate a commercial bicycle messenger service in a city with a population of more than 2,000,000 unless the bicycles used are covered by a liability insurance policy at the expense of the person, firm, or corporation. The insurance policy shall be issued in amounts no less than the minimum amounts set for bodily injury or death and for destruction of property under Section 7-203 of this Code [625 ILCS 5/7-203]. No insurer other than an insurer authorized to do business in this State shall issue a policy under this Section.