The Rules of the Road for Bicycle Commuters

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Commuting by bicycle can provide many benefits.  In a city the size of Chicago, where traffic is a constant problem, especially at rush hour, commuting by bicycle may allow you to save time and avoid traffic, and in many cases, bikers can save hundreds of dollars a month in parking fees.  Bicycling also provides a great source of exercise each day, and for the environmentally conscious among us, biking has no exhaust emissions and leaves virtually no carbon footprint.

While there are many benefits to commuting by bike, the bike commuter also has certain responsibilities.  Whether you’ve just recently made the decision to start commuting by bike, or you’re a seasoned bicycle commuter, reviewing the laws and your responsibilities in this area can help to make your commute safe and enjoyable.

In keeping with our mission of “helping people know the law,” we’ve compiled ten laws from the Illinois Vehicle Code and the Chicago Municipal Code which pertain to bicyclists.  Our hope is that, by reviewing this list, you’ll be able to ensure that your commute is a safe one.

  1. If traveling below the normal speed of traffic, a cyclist must ride as close as practicable and safe to the right-hand curb or edge of the road, except:
    1. When passing another bike.
    2. When preparing for a left turn.
    3. When trying to avoid unsafe conditions (e.g. pedestrians, animals, debris, potholes).
    4. When making a right turn.
  2. If on a one way road, a cyclist may ride as close as practicable and safe to the left-hand curb or edge of the road.
  3. Cyclists may ride no more than 2 abreast, except on paths or roads used exclusively for bikes. However, cyclists riding 2 abreast may not impede the normal and reasonable flow of traffic and must ride within a single lane.
  4. Cyclists may not carry anything that prevents the use of both hands to control the bike.
  5. Cyclists must always keep at least one hand on the handlebars.
  6. When ridden at night, a bike must have a lamp on the front which emits white light visible from at least 500 feet and a red reflector on the rear visible from 100 to 600 feet. A red lamp in the rear may be used in addition to a reflector.
  7. All bikes must have a brake.
  8. If a police officer has a reasonable belief that a bike is not safe or does not have the equipment required by law, he/she may stop the rider and inspect the bike.
  9. Cyclists may not cling or grab onto vehicles.
  10. Cyclists within the business districts of Chicago may not ride on any sidewalk or paved path other than the roadway, unless that paved path has specifically been designated and posted as a bike path.

If you have any questions about your rights and responsibilities as a bicycle commuter, or if you’ve been injured during your commute, feel free to call us at 1-866-758-0031.

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