[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Passing laws: Illinois requires that in the event a motor vehicle passes a bicycle it shall leave a safe distance, not less than 3 feet, when passing the bicycle.
Helmet law: There is no state law in Illinois that requires the operator of a bicycle to wear a helmet. However, although not required by law it is strongly recommended.
Laws to Protect the Bicyclist: There are certain laws entitled “vulnerable user laws.” These laws, in essence, require the vehicle least at risk to yield to the vehicle most at risk. By example, a motor vehicle would have to yield to a bicycle and a bicycle would have to yield to a pedestrian. Illinois does not have any specific vulnerable laws, but those of laws that protect bicyclist.
Illinois law requires that:
- A person driving a motor vehicle shall not, in a reckless manner, drive the motor vehicle unnecessarily close to, toward, or near a bicyclist, pedestrian, or a person riding a horse or driving an animal drawn vehicle; and
- If found guilty, shall be punished with:
- A Class A misdemeanor if the violation does not result in great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement to another; or
- A Class 3 felony if the violation results in great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement to another.
Distracted Driving Laws: As almost every bicyclist knows, distracted driving creates one of the most dangerous risks to a bicycle on a public roadway. Every state has varying laws to attempt to reduce the amount of distracted driving that exists. Nonetheless, it still presents a serious problem.
In Illinois there have been laws passed to attempt to reduce distracted driving by punishing violators. Here is a summary of the present laws. There will be links at the end of this article to the specific laws in full detail.
- A person under the age of 19 years who holds an instruction permit, or a person under the age of 19 years who holds a graduated license, may not drive a vehicle on a roadway while using a wireless phone;
- A person, regardless of age, may not use a wireless phone at any time while operating a motor vehicle on a roadway in a school speed zone, or in a roadway work zone;
- A person may not operate a motor vehicle on a roadway while using an electronic communication device to read or send a text message;
- A school bus driver may never operate a school bus while using his/her cell phone; and
- A commercial motor vehicle operator may never use a hand-held mobile phone or engage in texting while driving.
Where to Ride – Lane Position Laws for a Bicyclist: Generally speaking, Illinois law requires the bicyclist to be as close to the right hand edge of the road as possible. However there are some important exceptions that I will outline below:
- When passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction;
- When preparing to take a left turn at an intersection or onto a private road or driveway;
- When reasonably necessary to avoid unsafe conditions such as riding in a lane that is too narrow;
- When approaching a place where a right turn is authorized; or
- When upon a one-way highway with two or more marked traffic lanes, in which case a bicyclist may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of such roadway as practical.
Sidewalk Riding: The general rule in Illinois is that you are permitted to ride on sidewalks. However, there are certain rules and exceptions that must be followed. So you may ride on a sidewalk subject to the following:
- You must yield the right of way to any pedestrian and shall give audible signal before overtaking and passing such pedestrian;
- You are not allowed to ride on the sidewalk or crosswalk where such use of bicycles is prohibited by official traffic-control devices; and
- You have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same It is important to note that Illinois does not require that bicyclists use any lane or path other than a normal vehicular traffic lane. So if there is a sidewalk, the choice of road or sidewalk is yours to make.
Riding a Bike under the Influence: Obviously, it is never a good idea to drive any vehicle under the influence of alcohol. However, in Illinois, bicycles are not defined as vehicles. Illinois’s law prohibiting driving while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances is written so that it applies to vehicles and therefore does not directly apply to bicyclists. However bicycles should not be operated while under the influence and a bicyclist may potentially be charged with a DUI because bicyclists are subject to the duties applicable to vehicles as defined by Illinois statute.
Stop Sign Laws: Generally, in Illinois, bicycles have to follow the same rules as motor vehicles regarding the requirement to come to a complete stop when directed to stop by traffic control devices and Illinois does not authorize bicyclists to disobey traffic lights that fail to detect bicyclists.
However, other than Chicago, an Illinois bicycle rider may not wait for a red light to turn green, provided he/she waits a reasonable period of time (not less than 120 seconds) because of a signal malfunction or because the signal has failed to detect the arrival of bicycle due to the vehicle’s size or weight, shall have the right to proceed, after yielding the right of way to oncoming traffic facing a green signal, subject to the rules applicable after making a stop at a stop sign.
Illinois does provide that its state traffic laws does not prevent local authorities the jurisdiction and power within the reasonable exercise of the police power from regulating the operation of bicycles and requiring the registration and licensing of same, including the requirement of a registration fee
Important Resources and Links
Many of the laws pertaining to bicycles can be found in the Illinois Vehicle Code which is found in Chapter 625 Section 5 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes (Ill. Comp. Stat.), available here:
Illinois has a website regarding Bicycling Laws, here is a link:
Illinois Bicycle Rules of the Road pamphlet:
Bicycle Laws for Chicago: