New laws are passed to keep cyclists safe

 
Published4/12/2008 11:50 PM

I had the pleasure last week of speaking with Margo O'Hara, director of communications for the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, regarding new legislative activity that affects Illinois cyclists.

There is plenty of good news on that front. Last year's SB0080 became law Jan. 1 and it made three basic changes that benefit Illinois cyclists.

 

Most importantly, it set a minimum distance at which motorists must pass cyclists. The operator of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle or individual proceeding in the same direction on a highway has to leave a safe distance of not less than 3 feet when passing the bicycle or individual.

Even though 99 percent of the drivers I encounter while riding in traffic are very courteous, almost every ride involves at least one jerk who nearly takes off my left elbow. This can be very unnerving for cyclists and, with the new law in effect, Margo recommends that we report any offending driver to local police.

In March, the City of Chicago passed the 2008 Bicycle Safety Ordinance, which prohibits opening a car door into moving traffic; sets a 3-foot minimum passing distance; increases fines for parking in a bike lane or marked shared lane; and prohibits motorists from turning right in front of a bicyclist.

The ordinance sets a minimum fine of $500 when these actions leads to a bicycle crash.

Lastly, the Vulnerable Users Bill (HB 4861) is nearing a vote in Springfield. In 2007, more than 160 pedestrians and bicyclists were killed on roads in Illinois. This bill proposes that drivers who kill a bicyclist or pedestrian would be fined a minimum of $12,500, face up to a year in jail and be subject to the suspension or revocation of their driver's license.

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Current penalties include neither jail time nor significant monetary fines.

An easy way to stay up to date with legislative bicycling bills is to visit the CBF's Web site, www.biketraffic.org/legislation.

Bike swap set:

The Arlington Heights Bicycle Association sponsors its annual Bike Swap at Centennial Park, 1209 Burr Oak Drive, Arlington Heights, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 26.

If you're in the market for a bicycle but don't feel like buying a new one, it's worth your time to check out the large variety of bikes for sale by local residents.

You can find anything from old beaters to high-end performance bikes. Be sure to bring cash if you plan to buy anything. For details, visit www.cyclearlington.com.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Ride planned in Union

The Schaumburg Bicycle Club's seventh annual Spring Forward ride will be April 27 in Union. Celebrate spring and the promise of another great bicycling season with one of the best early season rides in the country.

Eighteen-, 31- and 62-mile routes are available. Fruit, bagels, brownies liquid refreshments and friendly volunteers will greet you at the rest stops.

Non-bicycling friends and family can have fun visiting Union's Railroad Museum, Donley's Wild West Town or shop at the Huntley Mall.

Registration is available online until April 22 and in person the morning of the ride. For details, visit www.schaumburgbicycleclub.org.

• Todd Underwood covers cycling in theChicago area. To contact him, e-mail todd@peppergroup.com or write to c/o Daily Herald, 385 Airport Road, Suite A, Elgin, IL 60123.

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