Cycling in the City (Part I)
As the weather heats up, cyclists around the city will get their bikes out of storage, dust off the seats, oil the chains, fill up the tires, and hit the streets of Chicago. Because bikes and cars share the roadways, this is also a good time for the city to remind both motorists and bicyclists to be mindful of each other and to respect the rules of the road.
Sounds easy enough, but how many people (bikers and drivers alike) know just what the rules are? Both the city of Chicago and state of Illinois have introduced new laws in 2008 with the intention to make bike riding less hazardous; however, the new regulations are not necessarily on everyone’s radar yet.
This month, Governor Rod Blagojevich has turned to the airwaves to get the word out about the changes with a radio campaign that is running on 10 stations throughout the region. The 30-second spots inform the general public about the new law, which says vehicles must give cyclists at least three feet of room when passing. The promotional ads, called “Please Don’t Squeeze,” are not solely focused on motorists, though. They ask bikers to obey all traffic rules and ride responsibly as well.
Along with the “three-foot rule,” Mayor Daley also instated additional laws in the city against cars turning in front of a bicyclist, parking in or obstructing a designated bike lane, and “dooring” (opening a car door into the path of an oncoming biker). All offenses are fineable, although there is some question as to how often drivers would actually be caught in the act and written a citation (which can cost between $150 and $500). Officials say the laws were created more to get people to take notice of certain behaviors that can endanger bikers and to take bike safety seriously.
Read Part II of Cycling in the City: Learn about a multi-stage project (already underway) aimed at making Chicago one of the most bike-friendly towns in the country.