Illinois Cycling Laws
Bicycling is a great way to get around, but it can be dangerous. In the United States, there are over 900 bicyclists killed and an estimated 476,000 injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes each year. That's one death every 8 hours and one injury every 2 minutes!
Are you the victim of a bicycle accident and seeking financial compensation for your damages? At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are legal advocates for injured bicyclists harmed by another's negligence.
Contact a Chicago bicycle accident lawyer at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for legal advice and schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Illinois Traffic Laws and Road Rules: Rights and Duties
The best way to prevent bicycle injuries is by knowing your rights and duties on the road. It's important to know what you are allowed to do when you ride bikes in Illinois so you don't end up getting hit by a car or ticketed for doing something illegal.
Illinois, Chicago in particular, has striven to be a bike-friendly state and has put specific laws in place to protect bike riders while they are riding on roadways.
For the most part, bicycles are to be treated as any other vehicle on the road regarding right-of-way and general traffic laws. However, there are Illinois state statutes targeted to bicycle riders and how motorists should interact with bicycles on the road.
These laws are in place to ensure that Illinois is a safe place for bicyclists to ride and prevent accidents whenever possible.
Unlike operating a motor vehicle where you are required to have a driver's license, Anyone young or old can ride bikes as long as they obey the road rules, stop signs, and Illinois cycling laws. Specific rules apply when riding bikes on sidewalks compared to shared city streets, roads, and highways.
State of Illinois Vehicle Code: Cycling Laws
The ultimate goal of most Illinois traffic laws, including those regarding bicycles, is to prevent accidents and keep everyone on the roadways safe. Bicyclists and pedestrians are protected by law due to injury when a vehicle crashes into these vulnerable individuals.
Not only must bicyclists obey the road rules, but motorists are also expected to use extreme caution to avoid crashing with a cyclist. Some of the statutes that pertain to bike riders on the roads in Illinois under ILLINOIS VEHICLE CODE 625 ILCS5/ include:
- 11-1502: This section states that bicyclists should be granted all the same rights and duties as other vehicles on the road.
- 11-1504: Bike riders should not cling to or attach themselves to any vehicle on a roadway for their protection.
- 11-1505: Bicyclists should position themselves whenever possible to the far right of a roadway except under certain circumstances, including when turning left, overtaking another cyclist or vehicle, avoiding obstructions, and avoiding right-hand turn lanes.
- 11-1505.1: When traveling on a roadway, bike riders should ride no more than two abreast and not impede traffic.
- 11-1507: This section refers to equipment required by bicycles, including a front headlight and rear red reflector for night riding, and all bikes must have functional brakes and side and pedal reflectors.
Illinois Vehicle Code Rules of the Road
In addition to the laws about bicyclists, some statutes target motorists who share the roads with bicycles.
- 11-1003.1.This section states that all drivers must "exercise due care" to avoid colliding with any person riding a bicycle.
- 11-1407. This section prohibits opening a vehicle door into oncomingtraffic to prevent bicycle dooring accidents. When safe, doors should only be opened long enough to load or unload passengers.
- Sec 11-603.When passing a bicycle on the left, drivers must maintain a safe distance, at least three feet, until they are past the bicycle.
- 11-902.When turning left at an intersection, drivers must yield to the bicyclists traveling in the opposite direction that are in or approaching the intersection.
When these laws are broken, motorists can face a penalty. However, what is more concerning is when disregarding these laws leads to accidents involving motor vehicles and cyclists.
If the cyclist is injured, these laws can help prove liability on the driver's part for causing the accident. As in any vehicle accident, if a driver hits and injures a cyclist, they can be responsible for paying for medical costs, wages losses, and other expenses the victim may be facing.
Before passing a pedestrian on a bicycle, the bicyclist should give an audible signal while traveling at a slow speed or yield the right-of-way. Wait until pedestrians grant you the right-of-way before overtaking them on a road or sidewalk.
Riding Bikes on the Sidewalk Against Traffic in Illinois
According to Illinois law, bicycles are prohibited on certain kinds of sidewalks. 625 ILCS 5/11-1416. Bicycles may not be ridden on any sidewalk or pedestrian path where signs have been posted prohibiting such travel. In addition, local ordinances also regulate the usage of bicycles on sidewalks and crosswalks, which can vary from municipality to municipality.
Generally, bicycles need to be ridden in the same direction as motor vehicle traffic (without regard for oncoming and conflicting traffic, resulting in a crash). According to Illinois law, when you ride against the flow of car traffic is unsafe because of an obstruction or hazardous condition, it can cause problems with safety and the legality of this practice.
Is It Illegal to Ride a Bike Without a Helmet in Illinois?
Local and state laws have specific rules on wearing a helmet while cycling.
It is not uncommon for bike riders to argue that they should not have to wear a helmet while they ride their bicycle because it is an unnecessary accessory or "overkill."
Although this may be the case in some cases, such as when traveling at very slow speeds on quiet roads, there are many instances where wearing a helmet can prevent serious head injuries and fatalities.
The state of Illinois requires bicycle riders under the age of 18 to wear a helmet designed for bicycle safety that fits them properly. A bicyclist can be issued a citation if they are caught biking without a helmet, but helmets are encouraged as part of being safe on a bicycle, and there is no fine associated with wearing one. 625 ILCS 5/11-1412
It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle on any public path where signs have been posted prohibiting such travel in Illinois. 625 ILCS 5/11-1416
Riding Motorized Bicycle on the Sidewalk in Illinois
According to Illinois cycling laws, a bicyclist is not allowed to ride on the sidewalk. If you receive a citation, it may be possible to contest it, but there is no guarantee that your case will be dismissed.
Cyclists must follow the law while they ride their bikes in Illinois and avoid disobeying traffic laws to stay out of court and avoid receiving a citation.
The Penalties Cyclists Face If They Break the Law in Illinois
If an officer stops a cyclist and appears to be breaking the law, they will most likely receive a warning or be ticketed. Most cyclists do not face serious consequences for breaking the law.
Typically, cyclists will receive a citation for breaking the law. The penalty usually consists of fines, court fees, or both. For many types of violations, cyclists are required to attend an educational program that the court schedules. 625 ILCS 5/5-105
The purpose behind this is to learn more about bicycle rules and how to stay safe on the road to protect drivers and pedestrians.
Suppose a cyclist fails to attend an educational program. In that case, they will be required to attend regular court sessions, and their fines may be increased until they can complete the requirements of their sentence.
What to Do When Stopped While Biking
While you ride your bicycle, you must follow all traffic rules that apply to bicyclists. However, if a police officer stops you while cycling, there are some steps that you can take to help yourself stay safe and avoid receiving a citation.
- Stop for the officer when they have stopped you on your bicycle. Cyclists must comply with any instructions given by a law enforcement officer during a traffic stop. Failure to comply can result in a more serious charge being filed against you.
- Remain polite with the officer and answer their questions honestly. Cyclists must follow all traffic rules to avoid receiving a citation or going to court, but it is also very important not to argue with the police. Arguing about your innocence can make matters worse for you in court.
- If you are unsure about the law, it is best to politely ask for clarification from the police officer. It can be confusing if you are not familiar with all of the bicycle laws, but cyclists must know what they can do without placing themselves at risk of receiving a citation or going to court.
- Be patient during the entire process. Bicycle citations are not punishable with jail time, but it can be frustrating if you have to attend court sessions and pay high fines because of a mistake you made while cycling.
What Cyclists Can Do to Avoid Being Stopped by Police Officers
The best thing that cyclists can do is obey all traffic laws and avoid breaking the law while riding their bikes. Cycling rules exist for a reason, and cyclists should avoid placing themselves at a higher risk by disobeying traffic laws.
Avoid riding after dark unless you have been provided with proper lighting equipment from your city's Department of Transportation. Bikes have the same rights as all motor vehicles and are required to be equipped with specific types of lights and reflectors, so a cyclist must follow these rules.
How to Contest a Citation
There may come a time where you need to contest a ticket. For example, if you feel that you were issued a ticket unjustly or some clerical error on your ticket, you have the same rights as the driver, and it is possible to contest the citation.
To do this, you should call the court listed on your ticket and make an appointment to see a judge. You may also access your case online, with most courts allowing easy access through their website.
Injured in an Illinois Bike Accident? Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer to Resolve your Compensation Case
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC is dedicated to helping Illinois bicyclists get the compensation they deserve when injured due to the driver's fault. Our Illinois bike attorneys will review your case for free and advise you of your legal rights without any cost or obligation on your end.
Call our law office at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for legal services and schedule a free case evaluation.
We accept all personal injury cases and wrongful death lawsuits through contingency fee agreements, meaning no upfront fees are required until your case is resolved.