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What rights do bicyclists have in Chicago?

On Behalf of | Apr 18, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

older man sitting next to his bicycle reading newspaper

Cycling is an excellent mode of transportation because of its health benefits and minimal environmental impact. However, cyclists can encounter substantial risks when sharing the road with other vehicles.

The law establishes various rights that riders should be aware of as they travel Chicago’s roads.

The rights of cyclists to the road

The most basic right of cyclists is their permission to access roads like any other vehicle. Motor vehicle operators must drive safely around bicycles and may not threaten, intimidate or crowd cyclists.

Drivers must also allow at least three feet of space when passing bicyclists and proceed slowly. Automobiles may not stop or park in bike lanes, nor may they open their door into the path of a cyclist. The law also states that cars may not make a right-hook turn in front of a bicycle.

Exceptions to various restrictions

Like other vehicles, bicycles have restrictions and safety guidelines, but cyclists have exceptions under specific circumstances. For example, though bikes should stay to the right on streets, a cyclist has the right to move to the center of a lane if a hazard appears or the road narrows.

Also, cyclists should typically avoid sidewalks, but they may ride cautiously on sidewalks in a business district if a sign permits it or the sidewalk is the only way to access a roadway, intersection, bike path or share station. Children under 12 may ride on sidewalks but should exercise caution and respect walkers.

Like other vehicles, the law restricts cyclists from using communication devices while traveling. However, a cyclist can use such a device in a hands-free, voice-activated mode or when reporting an emergency.

Other laws exist to establish the rights of cyclists. Understanding the law can help riders protect themselves legally if a bicycle accident occurs.