New Illinois Law to Treat Bicyclists and Cars as Equals

Gov. Bruce Rauner recently signed a bill into law that treats bicycles and automobiles as equals, giving bicyclists the same rights including but not limited to right of way.


The bike-sharing service, Divvy, launched in Chicago in June 2013 with 750 bikes at 75 stations, and many more bicyclists also share the roads with drivers. The city of Chicago has more than 200 miles of on-street protected, buffered, and shared bike lanes as well as many miles of off-street bike paths, making it one of the best large cities for bicycling. In addition, Chicago has more than 13,000 bike racks and sheltered bike parking areas at many CTA stops.

As great as this service seems to be, I often wonder why they can’t figure out a way to include helmets.

The city aims to have a bike accommodation within a half mile of every Chicagoan, as part of their “Chicago Streets for Cycling Plan 2020.” This is a great goal, but there is a darker side to bicycling that needs to be approached.

As a country, we saw 726 fatalities in 2014 of bicyclists crashing with automobiles. The number of fatalities fluctuates; however, the number of injuries in 2014 on bicycles increased to 50,000. One-third of all bicycling injuries were caused by being struck by a car. What can we do to stay safe on bicycles?

First of all, it is important to wear a properly fitting helmet. It may also be helpful to wear neon colors or to have reflectors to ensure that you will be seen by drivers. Always hold the handlebars, and be aware of your surroundings. Avoid road hazards, such as potholes. Also, avoid riding at night, which can be more dangerous.

On the automobile side, car accidents are the leading cause of death globally for young people ages 15 to 29. Just about 1.3 million people die in car crashes every year globally.

In case of an accident on a bike or in a car, remember to tend to your own medical needs first. Also take pictures of the accident, which can help if it goes to trial. Ask for the other person’s information, and talk to witnesses. Call the police, and get an ambulance if necessary.

Then, as soon as possible, get a lawyer who understands bike laws, who can help you protect your own rights as a bicyclist on the road.


Gordon Johnson

Attorney Gordon Johnson is one of the nations leading brain injury advocates. He is Past-Chair of the TBILG, a national group of more than 150 brain injury advocates. He has spoken at numerous brain injury seminars and is the author of some of the most read brain injury web pages on the internet.

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