A new Illinois state law passed in August 2016 and which will go into effect on January 1, 2017 clarified conflicting state law on the right-of-way rights afforded to Illinois bicyclists sharing the road.
Gov. Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 5912, which amends the Illinois Vehicle Code to state that every bicyclist on a “highway” (i.e., road or roadway), should be afforded all the rights of any other vehicle driver, “including, but not limited to” the one’s associated with right-of-way.
The law was born out of a tragedy in Kane County, Illinois where Dennis Jurs, a 68 year old Army veteran and avid bicyclist, was killed subsequent to a collision with a motor vehicle. At the particular intersection where the incident occurred both north and southbound vehicles have stop signs, but east and westbound vehicles do not.
In this particular case, the motor vehicle driver was ticketed for failing to yield the right-of-way to the bicyclist, but a judge later dismissed the ticket due to an ambiguity in Illinois law. The ambiguity, detailed in conflicting Illinois Appellate cases on the subject, stated that individuals riding bikes were not afforded the same right-of-way protections under law as those driving automobiles.
Bill Passed to Protect Bicycle Riders’ Rights
In response to the unfairness of the current state of Illinois law –only protecting those driving motor vehicles but not bicyclists performing the same conduct, Rep. Anna Moeller (D-Elgin), sponsored a bill which clarified existing law to ensure that those riding bicycles were afforded the same rights as those driving cars. The bill was later co-sponsored by Rep. Michael Tryon (R-Crystal Lake), Rep. Steven Anderson (R-Springfield) and Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-North Aurora). “This law ensures that a person riding a bicycle and obeying the rules that apply will be afforded the same protection as law abiding automobile motorists with regards to their right-of-way rights’ said Illinois State representative Keith Wheeler, (R-North Aurora). After slight alternations on the original language of the bill further clarifying its applicability only to bicycle riders and their right-of-way rights, the bill ultimately passed both houses of the Illinois Legislature with only one no vote.
This clarification of this state law represents the importance bicyclists now possess in the modern transportation system. More and more individuals choose bicycle riding as their primary mode of transportation. Those individuals often ride their bicycles to work, to the train, or simply as a hobby and means of exercise. The law makes crystal clear that in Illinois bicycle riders are afforded the same right-of-way rights on Illinois roads as those driving cars.
The Chicago personal injury attorneys at Harrington, Thompson, Acker & Harrington, Ltd. represent injured bicycle riders. If you have been injured while riding a bicycle, do not hesitate to contact us toll-free at (800) 828-5828 or through the contact page on our website for a free consultation to the merits of any possible bicycle injury claim